Thursday, May 25, 2017

Pawtucket School Children Learn Piano






Our piano program has ended for this last quarter and I must say that the children were very good students.  I was amazed at how fast they learned the songs.  I had twenty-six children in all from ages eight to eleven.  Some of the children had experience in playing other instruments.  two or three had pianos at home.  Most of the students did not have a piano to practice on outside of the class.  This was the beginning of the piano program at the schools.

The students attended the Cunningham School and the Nathanael Greene Schools, both elementary schools in Pawtucket, RI.  Neither of these schools has much in the way of a music program and so the students were very eager to learn how to play piano.  I was interested in the Pawtucket area because of the number of speakers of other languages in their households.  It is quite a diverse community which I felt would be a challenge to teach, considering the diversities of cultures.

They began with songs that they already knew, to help them gain confidence in hearing themselves play a song which they already knew.  Their enthusiasm showed me they were enjoying the classes.   I always begin with a brief discussion on the major music theory points pertaining to the songs.  As with any class, all students learned at their own pace.

I have been teaching these classes in other programs for thirteen years and it never ceases to amaze me that students tend to learn to play the keyboard quicker in a classroom than on their own.  They tend to share their knowledge and insights with each other.  Each makes their own observations and is willing to share.  I encourage them to support each other in class as well.  The students who are struggling learn much from the students who excel.

One - on - one instruction is very valuable for the students to practice and perfect their skills.  The children took advantage of their time alone to work on the skills and process the insights they had learned from others in the class.

The students were grouped by grades.  Unfortunately, one school had keyboards while my youngest students did not.  However, the youngest students learned more music theory than the others.  All students, were eager to learn.  Some needed more time to process the lessons, but all in all, they were very enthusiastic students.

I am planning on acquiring keyboards for the one class that did not have them and perhaps replace the ones which were damaged and worn and continuing with more advanced lessons on theory.  The students were beginning to learn how to use the left hand in playing songs with both hands.  They were also beginning to play songs that they never heard before.  At the end of the year they were gaining confidence and I was beginning to see how disciplined some of the children were compared to when they began the program with me.

I am honoring the students at a Spring Gala next month to be held at Old Slater Mills in Pawtucket, RI  If any businesses are interested in sponsoring this event, please visit my website.