The. Fairhope Piano Lab Program
Established in 2014
The Fairhope High School Piano Lab teaches beginning, intermediate and advanced students in a group setting. In the school’s digital piano lab, each student has his or her own piano to play during class.
Beginning with group lessons has many advantages:
- Piano study can be a solitary pursuit. By meeting together every day, they forge bonds of friendship while learning the basics.
- Group classes meet for 50 minutes.
- Group study is a proven winner. When extroverts and introverts come together in a classroom, the introverts are often swept up in the enthusiasm of the extrovert, while the extroverts become aware of the benefits for focused study. Many times, each personality type can influence the other, whether it be the fun of participating in class or preparing for a recital. With one-on-one instruction, a teacher could find it challenging to duplicate a similar situation.
- Charting everyone’s practice progress each week encourages students to maintain a consistent level of playing at home in order to keep up with the group. (We call this ‘friendly competition.’) Of course, this is optional and after school practice is totally up to that individual.
- Group piano offers many opportunities for performance. Playing together lends a rhythmic stability that would otherwise be missing. Plus, making music with others is great fun.
- In-class performances assist students in coping with mistakes and with successes. They learn to listen and offer constructive criticism to their peers, helping them learn to listen more closely to their own playing. It also helps address any nervous jitters months before an actual event.
- Students learn many basics of music theory by working in individual theory books, and participating in ear training assignments. Again, including these elements in a private lesson is often difficult to achieve.
- Computerized instruction is an additional benefit of the piano lab. At various time during the year students are given individual attention from the teacher, usually in preparation for a performance the end of the year “RECITAL”.
The Piano-Lab Programs 1, 2, 3 and 4 are now completing the sixth year at Fairhope High School. Four years ago, Clark Peterson was the first student to receive a piano scholarship from the University of South Alabama. Clark enrolled in the Piano Lab, Program 1 his sophomore year (2014), with no previous piano training. He continued studying level 2 through his junior year and completed level 3 his senior year.
Clark is presently finishing his third year at USA and has made piano performance his area of concentration. February 2nd, 2019, Clark won his first Piano Sonata Competition at USA. This young man and his family have benefited greatly from having this program at FHS. They never paid for a piano lesson!
Mary Bradley Knighton is a recent graduate from FHS where she was involved in our choral and piano program. She is presently studying at USA with an emphasis in vocal performance and a minor in Piano.