“Class Piano for the Elementary Music Classroom”
Vestavia Hills Elementary East Music Program
Vestavia Hills, AL
My advocacy initiative is to get kids excited about taking piano lessons again in our community. During Covid, I found that most of my students stopped taking piano lessons. This greatly affected our music program. I also spoke with several piano teachers in our area that stopped teaching piano to the younger students via zoom. They found that teaching the youngest students on camera was not effective. In the Fall of 2022, I set a goal for our program to help our students return to piano lessons.
The objectives of my advocacy initiative were to get students excited about piano again and to help students return to their piano teachers. We have learned through research that students engaged in arts learning have higher GPAs and lower dropout rates. And, their standardized test scores are higher as well (The Art of Education University).
My school is one of the top schools in the state. We regularly score between 97% and 100% on standardized tests.
Additionally, over 75% of our middle school students participate in an Arts Education class. Our middle school offer band, choir, theatre, art, and dance. The mission of my school system is to ensure each student learns without limits by pursuing knowledge and igniting curiosity about the world through a system distinguished by: a safe and nurturing environment, the courage to be creative, unparalleled community support, appreciation of diversity, and multiple paths to a bold future.
I felt that getting students excited about piano again fit well with our system’s mission statement. I provide a safe and comfortable learning environment for our students to have the courage to be creative. I also feel that getting students excited about piano again will help them create multiple paths to their future!
The target audience of my advocacy initiative was my Kindergarteners. I really wanted them to experience the excitement of playing piano for the first time with their friends at school. Then, I wanted to let them know where and how they could take piano lessons outside of class. This initiate has hopefully returned the younger students back to their piano teachers.
Because we know that students involved in the arts are four times more likely to be recognized for academic achievement. (www.miarted.org) I wanted to start teaching class piano in Kindergarten to get them engaged in music from the very beginning.
The overall timeline of my advocacy initiative was eight months. In the Fall of 2022, I began to speak with my principal regarding my advocacy initiative regarding class pianos. He encouraged me to apply for a PTO or Foundation grant. I knew that I would need around $1500 for a class set of “Rock and Roll It” piano keyboards. I wanted to use the “Rock and Roll It’ keyboard set because the pianos roll up and are easy to store. They also have forty-nine keys, and include a “play-by-color” songbook. I wanted my students to have instant success with learning songs and I believed this system was the best for class piano.
After speaking to my principal, I wrote a grant and submitted it to our PTO and administration. Our PTO is very supportive of our music and arts program. However, they were involved in a massive playground renovation and most of the fundraising was earmarked for that project. My principal and PTO board worked together to help find the funds for this initiative. We were able to buy twenty-five keyboards using technology funds, school funds, and PTO funds.
In March of 2023, the keyboards arrived. On the first day of Kindergarten piano, I saw the excitement in the kids faces. It was a wonderful feeling knowing that I had provided them this opportunity for such joy!
Overview of Planning and Execution
My principal, book keeper, PTO board, and I were involved in the planning and execution of my advocacy initiative. Their time line and commitment was about eight months. The principal and PTO board created a budget with money from technology and fundraising that would cover the costs of the keyboards.
Tools and Resources
I used several tools when working on this advocacy initiative. First, I communicated my plan to my principal. Then, I wrote a grant.
Next, I found out that it would lake a few weeks longer than expected. So, I waited until the funds came available. I used my computer to create the grant and research the project. I communicated to the principal and book keeper through email regarding the details of the purchase. My book-keeper helped me by researching the lowest price of the keyboard kits. And finally, when I received the keyboards, my intern helped me by putting batteries in all of the keyboards.
Marketing and Promotion
I used research as a strategy for marketing and promoting my advocacy initiative. I wanted to use information that would be helpful for our administration, faculty, and community to understand how important this is for our kids. This positively impacted my program through the joy and excitement of the kids during their “class piano” time. They absolutely love class piano and on the first day of school this year, my number one question was “When do we play the pianos?”
The overall cost of the pianos were $1500. The purchase was tax free and included free shipping from Amazon. I wish I would have included the cost of batteries. However, the funds were paid for by the principal and PTO, and he music department did not have any extra expenditures.
I didn’t realize that I needed to buy batteries for each of the keyboards! I wish I would have included that in my grant request. This year we received $1000 for classroom supplies from our state. I will be able to use this money to purchases batteries and extra headphones when using the pianos.
This advocacy initiative was effective and I used performances as data to support the effectiveness of the program.
The kids love the “Rock and Roll” Keyboard Kits. They love the “play by color” music book, and have instant success! This advocacy initiative has positively impacted my school music program by allowing students to become familiar with music notation earlier. Also, it will help our students reconnect with their piano teachers in our community.
Advice for others?
- Take a survey to see how many students are taking private music lessons outside of school.
- Use the survey data to discuss the needs of the students.
- Talk with your principal about the need for engaging activities and piano instruction. Discuss what program best fits the need of students.