Three times a week during lunchtime about 25 middle school students attend the piano club taught by K-8 Music Teacher Bethany Woodfin. She is a new teacher who started at Metro Charter Academy in late January.
When she had her middle school students fill out music assessment sheets, she found that about 50% of the students showed interest in learning how to play the piano. The assessments showed Woodfin where the students are at in their learning, as well as how she can construct music to meet their personal interests.
A Metro student pratices her music notes.
“After that the Piano Club was created,” Woodfin said. “I wanted to create ownership and unity around some kind of club. It was great to have so many show an interest in learning piano.”
Club members meet on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 12:15 - 12:30 p.m. each week. The kids are able to bring their lunch to the music room to finish as they learn.
“For now, we do only have one piano to work with, so the structure and management of our time is very important,” Woodfin said. “On Mondays, I introduce a new concept that we are working on and demonstrate this concept. It could be technique, music notes, or timing on the chalk board and through a website called Virtual Piano.
“I will then point their attention to a new weekly song to practice that concept. The goal is to get every student in Piano Club to master the concept through playing the piece correctly by the end of the week. If we reach that goal, the students all earn a piece of candy.”
During the time Woodfin has after the initial instruction on Monday, she individually works on the piece with students. The other students will usually have a project that they can work on or they can choose to talk quietly with each other.
“My goal is to get one-on-one instruction with about seven to 10 students in each period. When a student has played through the song correctly, they get to write their name on the board,” Woodfin said. “I encourage the kids to go home and practice throughout the week. If they do not have a piano, then they can use the online virtual keyboard to practice music notes, fingering, and timing.”
Ms. Woodfin, far right takes a selfie with her Piano Club students.
To become a member of the Piano Club Woodfin has an interview process. She wants to ensure the students are there because they truly do want to learn piano and are excited to use the class piano.
“The whole reason we are working with the piano is because that is the instrument that sparked the kids’ interest,” Woodfin said. “Piano Club is a small way we are trying to grow passion, commitment, and positivity through the music program.
“Honestly, piano is not the easiest instrument to teach in a class setting, and I'm sure that the structure will morph as I continue to learn about the kids and grow as a teacher. For instance, I’d love to get a few smaller practice keyboards if we continue this in the future.”
Woodfin is very proud of how quickly the kids are learning and thriving in Piano Club, having just started in March.
“There was a lot of excitement over Piano Club initially,” Woodfin said. “The students found that it takes commitment and work to learn an instrument, but overall, the excitement and number has increased as the students are getting farther along and taking pride in their ability to play harder songs.
“I even had a student today who wanted to make a logo for the Piano Club and is going to work on one at home. I also have about three students who are asking for music pages to work ahead on at home. I create packets for them so that they can practice other additional pieces.”
For a teacher who just began in January, Woodfin has dived right into the experience. Prior to this she has taught individual lessons and traveled in a music group, but this is her first time being a classroom music teacher. She graduated in 2018.
“My experience has been that of any first-year teacher, but I am loving my time here overall. I am starting to really bond with the students, and I think that we are just turning a corner in the classroom,” Woodfin said.
Metro Charter Academy is a free public charter school in Romulus, Mich., serving students in kindergarten through eighth grade. National Heritage Academies (NHA), a charter school management company in Grand Rapids, Mich. has 98 tuition-free, public charter schools across nine states, serving more than 60,000 students in kindergarten through 12th grade. For more Is information, visit nhaschools.com.
Metro Charter Piano Club Members Take Advantage of Every Instruction Minute
Published: Jun 03, 2022NHA Communications Team
NHA Communications Team
Articles by NHA Communications Team
Published: Aug 12, 2022