Students at Western Middle School in Louisville, Kentucky will begin the 2011-2012 school year with a Yamaha digital piano lab – thanks to another partnership between Jefferson County Public Schools and local piano experts at Gist Piano Center. On Wednesday, August 17, representatives from Gist Piano Center and Jefferson County Public Schools assembled the 15-piano Yamaha digital piano lab for what turned out to be the first day of classes in the school year. The pianos, which came from another JCPS school, were brought in, unboxed and inspected for missing components before assembly.
“We were lucky that they were so well packaged,” said Tim King of JCPS. “We were only missing a few screws, some AC adaptors and a couple of stands. Thankfully, we were able to set the pianos up just in time for classes.”
In its initial phase, the Yamaha digital piano lab at Western will provide students with an opportunity to learn basic note names, rhythm values and elementary music as they explore the basics of music structure.
“We all know that music improves student test scores,” said James Harding of Gist. “When I think what my 30 years of piano traning did for me, I get really excited about kids sitting down at a keyboard. There is so much discovery ahead of them and the skills they learn from piano lessons will benefit them throughout their lives.”
Currently, faculty at Western are working on a grant proposal to equip each piano with headphones and lab teaching software that will further enhance the students’ music education. For information on how you can help this exciting program, contact Tim King.
Western Middle School is the JCPS districtwide magnet middle school for Visual and Performing Arts. Students choose from a variety of foci, including: Dance, Drama, Visual Arts, Band, String Orchestra, and Vocal Music. Visual and performing arts classes include opportunities for interdisciplinary learning to provide students with experience in all areas of the magnet program.
Students attending Western’s Visual and Performing Arts Magnet School will receive “first right of review” when applying to high schools offering visual and performing arts programs. Although this does not guarantee placement in a visual and performing arts high school, it does give students an opportunity to apply and receive early consideration by the school’s review committee.
Active participation in music study has been shown to increase student IQs by as much as five points. Further studies have shown that piano lessons exercise the parts of the brain responsible for mathematics, spacial intellegence, critical thinking and social interaction. Though we don’t yet fully understand all of the cognitive and social benefits associated with music lessons, developmental experts today recommend making the discipline of music study a regular part of every child’s education.
“Music is the one language everyone on our planet speaks,” said Tim King. “Our mission is to make sure our students understand that language and receive all of the benefits it has to offer.”