Becky Neiger wanted to pass on her appreciation of music to her children-but not her fear of performing.

Becky Neiger took piano lessons as a child, but the Columbus mother of four never performed for an audience.

"That would have terrified me," she said.

As a parent, Neiger wanted to pass on her appreciation of music to her children, but she also wanted to make sure that they did not share her anxieties about performing.

So when the children were young, she enrolled them at The Conservatory of Piano in Worthington.

The years of piano lessons and recitals paid off for the children, who now range in age from 20 to 25, Neiger said.

"My kids are comfortable in front of a crowd," she said. "They are very capable of going in front of a group - whether they are speaking or playing piano."

Much of what students learn in piano lessons can help them as they grow into adulthood, said Penny Popper, associate director of the conservatory. The school, which teaches only piano, was founded by her late mother Eleanor Popper in 1971. Today, the school operates from two locations, one in Worthington and the other on the east side of Columbus.

Many of the students who take lessons at the school have parents who studied piano as youngsters. Even parents who disliked practicing as kids now see the benefits of studying the instrument, Popper said: "We have parents who say, 'I'm sorry that my mom let me quit.'"

Piano lessons also can positively impact a student's cognitive development, said William Van Sickle, director of education at the conservatory.

Mini Somasundaram Hennessy enrolled her four children in the school after reading numerous studies that talked about how music helps kids succeed in math and science.

"Kids who are involved in music - it seems to help them process information," said the Dublin obstetrician.

Piano also has helped the kids develop leadership skills and a sense of confidence, Hennessey said.

"For us piano is like school," she said. "Just as I wouldn't let my kids quit school, I'm not going to let them quit piano."

Music lessons also teach the value of working hard at something, Van Sickle added. As students are challenged with more difficult music, they must practice to master it.

The school's philosophy is that children need to take responsibility for practicing. Van Sickle and Popper don't want parents to have to nag their children to learn the music.

"One of the big things we're trying to do is make these kids accountable," he said. "Students are responsible for their actions."

Students who practice can see how they are improving, Popper said. Often they see improvements from week to week or month to month, she added.

"Kids feel themselves getting better," she said. "They can see their own success."

The ability to see how practicing pays off is a great life lesson, Neiger added.

Playing piano makes children realize "hard work pays off," she said. "Until they experience that, it's really hard for them to know it."