From the alto saxophone to the violin, Keystone Oaks students have long had the opportunity to learn to play a musical instrument in school.
One popular instrument - the piano - was not among those that students could choose because space and scheduling constraints can make it a difficult course to offer.
Keystone Oaks has found a way to overcome those obstacles.
Thanks to inspiration from music teacher Mrs. Carol Smith, a $25,000 grant from Remake Learning, and the support of Keystone Oaks' administration and Board of School Directors, 8th grade students at Keystone Oaks Middle School now have the opportunity to take a nine-week Intro to Piano course.
"We are very fortunate here at Keystone Oaks to have a district that was willing to secure funding, find the space, and make the necessary adjustments to the schedule to provide students with this opportunity," Mrs. Smith said.
The Remake Learning grant allowed the District to purchase 12 Yamaha P125 keyboards with stands and benches and - Mrs. Smith’s favorite part - a Yamaha LC4 Music Lab system, which allows her to assist students individually, project small groups, or have all of the students hear each other through their headphones. The headphones also came with microphones which allow everyone to communicate while playing and helps the lessons run more smoothly.
The Piano I course is designed so that any student can enroll in the class, regardless of their previous experiences playing the piano. Of the seven students currently enrolled in the course, only one student has taken lessons.
“I am proud of all of the progress that these students have made in a few short weeks,” Mrs. Smith said. “They have learned to read bass and treble clef, play solo repertoire in different keys and hand positions, play duets, and they’ve even played in a piano ensemble setting, which is four people playing at once.”
By the end of the school year, nearly 20 8th grade students will have learned the basics of playing the piano. While learning a new instrument can be intimidating, she hopes that these students’ positive experience will inspire others to enroll in the course next year.
“Starting something new is always scary, but in the end, students will be able to complete this class with a great sense of accomplishment,” Mrs. Smith said. “And they will have a fun skill that they can use for the rest of their lives.”