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At Woodmont Elementary, piano lessons strike a chord

The halls are alive with the sound of music, or at least Woodmont Elementary School music teacher Rhonda Kent hopes they will.

The school is currently in the middle of a keyboard drive, requesting donations of piano-style keyboards — only ones with at least 60 working keys — for the sixth-graders.

While the younger students learn basic music skills with the recorder, Kent hopes to bring more of a challenge to the older students.

Last year, the school’s fifth-grade class voted and chose to learn the keyboard over the guitar. So this year, Kent brought in some of her own keyboards and also bought a few with school funds and donations from the community to bring the total number of keyboards to nine.

However, that’s still six short of her goal of 15.

“My goal is to have two students per instrument,” said Kent, who points to inadequate state funding for the shortage of keyboards. “With 28 or 29 students in a class, max 30, nine is still not enough.”

Keyboards are an ideal instrument, Kent said, because they are compact, portable and tech-savvy kids enjoy all their extra abilities. And, important in a small classroom, they have adjustable volumes.

Currently, the students are working on songs that only use the right hand. Eventually, Kent will start adding the left hand. They are also learning how to read music and music theory.

“I strongly think that every child should have mastery of one instrument in their lifetime,” Kent said.

There seems to be benefits outside the music room as well. Kent said she’s heard those students who are doing well on the keyboards have also been doing well in scholastic subjects like math.

Besides donations of keyboards or funds to purchase keyboards, Kent said she is also looking for stands, headphones that can go into the jack, splitters and AC adapters.

Contact Kyra Low: klow@fedwaymirror.com or (253) 925-5565.

How to help

The Woodmont Elementary School music department needs more electronic keyboards to teach piano to sixth-graders. Donations of any gently used keyboards with a range of 60 to 88 keys will be accepted. To learn more or donate, call (253) 945-4500 or e-mail bobbie-graesch@fwps.org.

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