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Above: Stephanie Joseph '14 directs a student in the piano class during the pilot
program.
Below: Sarah Gothers '14 leads a piano lesson.

Piano lesson pilot introduces music to schoolchildren

Music students at Providence College teach piano lessons to elementary school children as a community project and gain some education skills in the process.


During a pilot program hosted by the Department of Music, Providence College’s Smith Center for the Arts echoed with music from a younger set of students.

The department offered “Experiencing Piano: Children’s Piano Lessons,” a class for children ages 6-10 and team taught by PC students Sarah Gothers ’14 (Unionville, Conn.), Mary McDermott ’14 (Hopedale, Mass.), and Stephanie Joseph ’14 (Malden, Mass.).

Fifteen elementary schoolchildren from Providence and surrounding communities participated in the six-week program.

Intended for youths with little to no experience, the class focused on studying note and rhythm reading, and through short performances and a final recital, it helped build their confidence in playing in front of their peers.

“I saw a need for a community-based, music-related project, and a program like this brings people into PC,” said Dr. Sang Woo Kang, associate professor and department chair. “It’s great exposure for what we do, and it is good to have people here to see the building, the program, and the teachers."

For Gothers and McDermott, music education majors, and Joseph, a music performance major, teaching a large class at an introductory level was a new experience.

“I had to rethink how to explain things,” McDermott said. “I definitely had to put myself in their shoes because all of this is brand new to them.” 

Trying out teaching

For Joseph, teaching a class at any level was a new challenge. As a music performance major, she had given private piano lessons before but never taught a group. This program gave her the opportunity to experience the field of education.

“It gives all music majors the chance to explore teaching,” she said. “I still felt like a student. I watched Sarah and Mary and learned from them, so I feel more comfortable in a classroom setting now.” 

The student-teachers received feedback on their teaching after each class and learned valuable post-graduate skills, such as how to direct a class, said Kang. 

Kang said the introductory piano class was so successful that the music department hopes to host it again this fall and expand the class so that even more youths can participate. 

“Through this program, children were able to experience the joys of music at a young age,” he said. “Receiving such great training this early will help encourage them to seek out music, go to concerts, and continue to take music lessons.”

 

— Nick Tavares ’16

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