New Keyboards Offer New Opportunities

New Westview Piano Class Provides Another Fine Arts Option
Posted on 09/16/2020
This is the image for the news article titled New Westview Piano Class Provides Another Fine Arts OptionLast year room H-1 offered storage space at Westview High School and Garner Anderson was honing his athleticism as a football, baseball and basketball player. This year H-1 transformed into a piano class and Anderson is ready to prove himself on the keyboard as well as the fields and court.

Anderson can be found at one of the 15 keyboards Jennifer Cupples, assistant band director and music teacher at Westview, requested to expand music options beyond band and chorus. Thus far, 24 students have taken advantage of the piano lessons that include music history and theory as well.

“Seniors have to have a fine arts credit,” Cupples explained. “Many took chorus but they really didn’t want to sing. The keyboards give us another option for hands-on learning.”

Having seen success at her previous school offering a piano class, Cupples took Randy Frazier, director of Weakley County Schools, up on his offer to help improve arts education. She requested the instruments last spring and they were waiting for students when they returned in mid-August.

Most of the students taking the class have no musical background so Cupples began with the basics of learning notes and reading music.

Each week, she distributes a list of the assigned pieces, usually five or six, with the music getting more complex as the semester progresses. The students can then work individually with Cupples offering one-to-one guidance on trickier passages.

A room filled with first-time piano players might sound like a headache waiting to happen. However, each keyboard came not only with a piano seat but a pair of headphones. The “sounds of silence” when entering H-1 is due to each player plugged in and playing at his own pace and for his or her ears only. Cupples plugs in to hear whenever she is needed.
As a COVID-19 precaution, currently the students use their own headsets.

Garner AndersonWhen asked why Anderson, 16 years old and a junior, chose to return to something he’d left behind after early childhood lessons were abandoned, he is matter of fact, “My mom set me up for it,” he admits.

Reluctant at first, he now acknowledges the class is “pretty fun” and he is looking forward to showing his skeptical teammates a different side of his talents.

“We know that arts education makes a well-rounded student,” said Frazier of his desire to increase opportunities for music, art, theater, and dance. “We already have teachers who integrate the arts into their reading, social studies, science and math classes. And we are doing what we can with the budget we have to provide focused classes. I’m very happy to help teachers like Mrs. Cupples open up new possibilities for our students.”

To see photos from one of the classes, visit our Photo Albums.

See below for a short video captured for National Arts in Education Week.

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