Learn guitar. Learn piano. Learn flute.

By: Kendra Bragg Harding, ArtistCorps Member

It took a few minutes for everyone to arrive for Guitar Club this week, but that gave me a chance to spend some time with three or four students who arrived a little early. One took an immediate interest to the piano in the corner. I told him it was okay for us to look at it and play it some. While the other few students sort of halfway listened and more interested in seeing how loudly they could play on the piano, this kid was genuinely interested in what I had to say.

He asked a lot of questions about the pedals and what they do. I had him play notes with and without each pedal and compare the sounds. It was really interesting to watch his confidence grow as he made connections about all the things the piano could do: make long sounds, short sounds, loud sounds, soft sounds. The confidence only fueled his desire to ask questions. His friends soon began to pay attention to what was happeneing and wanted to try their hand at it after he took his turn.

After a few minutes more students began to file into the classroom and we got started with guitar time. When everyone handed me their paper with their three goals, his read: “Learn guitar. Learn piano. Learn flute.” I looked at the class and told them that maybe we could have a piano day where we each got to try it and learn about it. As for flute, I told him that we’re having a special guest on the 29th who is going to play us a special flute piece with beatboxing in it! The whole class got interested in that.

Everyone’s goals yielded some sort of new idea for me in terms of activities we could do, and important things to learn, but I was most struck by this kid’s interest in lots of instruments. I want to oblige as much as possible. I wouldn’t even mind starting a Piano Club if the schedule would permit it. That’s the amazing thing about serving kids: you can spark an idea in them that gets you rolling with finding new ideas yourself. I think it’s easy to think of instruction as an “I speak, you listen” kind of relationship, but it’s really not. It is (or at least should be) a dialogue. I’m so glad we had a few minutes before class to plunk around on the piano because that has clearly fueled some interest in the class and started me down the path of searching for ways to create yet another music program there. And all because one student showed up early and ready to learn.

March 4, 2016