Ten children in Wilkinson County, who would not normally get a chance to learn piano, will soon spread their fingers across ivory keys of two digital pianos delivered to the elementary school Tuesday, May 14. The instruments were moved with the help of sisters from Zeta Phi Beta sorority and are part of a new public outreach program, “Bobcat Keys,” by Georgia College’s Department of Music. Two more pianos will soon be added.
Students and their parents were present to see the upright pianos arrive, and youngsters received their piano method books. Assistant Professors of Music Dr. Owen Lovell and Dr. Tina Holmes-Davis were present, as well. Lovell spoke to the group, and elementary students got a chance to play on the keyboards.
The program officially begins in August, when Georgia College students will teach youngsters to play.
“The educational and behavioral benefits of piano lessons for school-age children are well-documented,” said Lovell, who supervises and directs Bobcat Keys.
“We begin this program, realizing these benefits are more difficult in some rural Central Georgia counties,” he said. “Access to a qualified piano teacher and a suitable practice instrument can be hard to find.”
One day a week this fall, five Georgia College service-oriented piano majors will get important career training by teaching Wilkinson students, grades two through five. Youngsters will receive private and group lessons at the university’s newly-renovated Porter Hall piano lab—one of Central Georgia’s only All-Steinway schools. Then, they’ll practice what they learned on the four pianos loaned to Wilkinson County Elementary School.
Transportation to campus is being funded by a Knight Foundation grant and educational materials by the Office of ENGAGE—Georgia College’s Quality Enhancement Plan that supports community-based learning. Bobcat Keys operates under the Center for Music Education at Georgia College, which will be implementing a variety of new programs and initiatives for education students and the community.