Category Archives: Classroom Music

Asbury University Partners with Gist Piano Center to Create New Roland Piano Lab

Students at Asbury University in Wilmore, Kentucky are beginning their Spring, 2013 semester with a brand new Roland Digital Piano Lab – thanks to a partnership between Roland Corporation, US and the local piano experts at Gist Piano Center.

One of only two private schools in Kentucky with a nationally-accredited music program, Asbury University requires all of its music students to take keyboard proficiency classes. In addition to replacing old and failing lab equipment, the new Roland pianos will provide Asbury students and surrounding community members an opportunity to incorporate new technologies into their piano lessons.

Each of the nine new Roland pianos is compatible with a number of FREE iPad apps that give students the ability to practice with digital flashcards, record and mix their own music, and play with music background files at whatever speed is comfortable for them. The included lab conferencing system gives the instructor the ability to listen and coach each student individually, assign students to practice groups, or even create custom finger exercises that can be displayed on a SMART Board or printed as student handouts.

“Our new Roland digital keyboard lab is outstanding, and a definite improvement compared to the equipment of our former keyboard lab,” says Don Zent, Professor of Piano and Keyboard Studies Coordinator at Asbury University. “We are excited about the good sound, responsive touch, and solid workmanship of our new Roland pianos. We’re also excited about the opportunity to incorporate new learning tools like iPads, music training apps and SMART Boards into our curriculum.”

Take a look at Asbury University’s new Roland Learning Lab! Continue reading


One Stop Shopping for RMM Teaching Information

This month’s guest blogger is an icon in the music education community.  Coming to us via our friends at Roland, here’s some excellent resource information on Recreational Music Making from Brenda Dillon:


Many teachers who are vaguely familiar with RMM (Recreational Music Making) want to know more about it before they include this kind of teaching in their schedules.  Music Teachers National Association is offering an excellent opportunity for this kind of information by having an RMM Track during Pedagogy Saturday at the MTNA convention in Anaheim, CA, on March 9, 2013.

A committee composed of Brenda Dillon (TX RMM author and teacher trainer), Emily Book McGree (Director of Education at Parlando School for the Arts in Boulder, CO) and Dr. Nan Baker Richerson (piano faculty at Gist Piano Academy in Lexington, KY) determined the topics and selected the clinicians. After a keynote address by Brian Chung (Senior Vice President of Kawai America), the following topics will be addressed:

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Stressed & Blessed: A Music Educator’s Opinion

Teaching a music classFifteen teachers, all at the top of their craft, all leaders in the district and their schools, cast their eyes down at the Department Chair meeting this week. They wrote notes and nodded lightly as the Content Area Coordinator outlined our lack of funds and increased standards in our departments. Once in a while, from my seat in the back, I noticed a teacher look to the left or right, no doubt wondering if we were all feeling as defeated.

If I took a barometer reading of the room, it would no doubt register “change.” But the change wasn’t exciting; it was debilitating. Even though we aren’t used to getting more funds, it’s disheartening to work so hard for so little. Even though we know about the new standards, there is no money for professional development and very little time in our large classes to immerse in studying strategies to meet them.

I’m known as a bit of a rebel out west, so maybe I have it all wrong, but I couldn’t help being frustrated at our meeting’s mood. Why do teachers expect a pay raise, enough training, and small classes? Since the beginning of our careers, these issues have incited riot, strike and career change, yet the same issues have cycled through every generation. If we love teaching, why do we not face change with the resources we DO have?

Here’s what I have:

  1. I have a curiosity that killed a schoolhouse of cats. I’m constantly looking for a new way, a better way. I don’t need additional funds to be creative.
  2. I have a sense of humor that suits the most sarcastic middle school student. I didn’t have to pay for it. Some wish I would.
  3. I have at least one teacher colleague who shares my dreams, my frustrations, and who is always willing to share, vent, or unpack the new standards.
  4. I have students who walk in every day, aching to be blessed with information, a new perspective, and a smile.
  5. I have a coffee pot and chocolate in my room.

If I gave a “state of the classroom” address it would sound a little like this:

Things aren’t much different; find a different way.

Take what you can from the stores of goodness that are deeper than the paycheck, the class size, the technology. Sit in your teaching space and look around. Breathe it in, then close your eyes. It’s likely you have a lot.