There is something magical about the piano lab when it comes to pedagogy for beginner piano students. I have taught private lessons for more than a decade and found that beginning students are more engaged, less frustrated, and learn quicker in the piano lab setting. One reason for this is that learning with up to 16 other students addresses many of their social/emotional needs, on which COVID-19 most definitely put a strain.
The 9th-12th grade students at Western Heights are motivated and excited to learn and share their music.
For most of my students, private music lessons would be out of the question. These students come from incredibly diverse ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds, with a student body of nearly 75% ethnic minorities and over 92% from low-income homes. As one of the few piano instructors in an Oklahoma public school, I consider myself lucky to teach piano to these students. I love showing students through piano how to find the joy in working hard on big goals, a skill I hope they take to other areas in their lives.
There is plenty of empirical data showing how music helps students' socioemotional needs. I can most certainly tell you that I have seen this anecdotally, too. Many students have come to me saying that piano has helped them cope with life. For this reason, during the year we were virtual because of COVID-19, I started an after school piano program where students were able to come to the school, which helped address their socioemotional needs.
The piano lab at our high school has proven to be a very popular elective where students are highly engaged.
In the four years I have taught at this school, the program has grown from 90 to 136 students, requiring the addition of more pianos. My goal is to expand the program by adding another keyboard so we can reach more students. Funding for this project will help provide students with another piano keyboard for the piano lab.
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