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Pianists display talents with piano lab school
Published 4/19/2013 6:00:00 AM
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Piano players of all ages will show off their talents at their year-end finale.

The Piano Pedagogy Lab School (PPLS) is a lab where WSU students looking to teach music can practice while offering piano lessons to community members who are looking to learn more about the piano, said PPLS Coordinator Michelle Mielke.

“Usually they video record their teachings,” she said. “I watch those and then we discuss them. That goes on very regularly in the first year of teaching.”

Sarah Stark, a senior piano performance and pedagogy major, has been in the PPLS program for three years and has taught 10 students in that time.

“Teaching has taught me to approach challenges from multiple perspectives because students learn in so many ways,” Stark said. “Some of my students I have had since I began teaching, so seeing how much they've grown over the last three years is really rewarding.”

Students from the community who participate in these classes also have the chance to compose their own piece of music over the year.

“It is very rewarding as a teacher to see how students have connected to their pieces, especially seeing their pieces with the art they create to represent it,” Stark said.

The other part of the end-of-year performance includes adopting a composer. This year's adopted composer, Edwin McLean, senior editor for the FJH music company, will visit elementary schools and talk to students there. He will also teach a master class and give a lecture.

Mielke said this is the 9th year the lab has brought a composer to their spring concert.

“We commissioned him to write three pieces specifically for our students, so they are going to premier those at the recital on Friday,” she said. “He wrote three different sets of pieces, one of them for really young students, and then sort of mid, and then a more intermediate sonatina.”

McLean said it's important for students to see that composers are ordinary people who use their creativity to write music.

"Hopefully it will encourage students to explore their own creative potential," he said.

McLean likes to use these kinds of opportunities to show kids what they can gain from learning piano at a young age. He said the lab is a great way for students to interact with composers.

“Everyone knows that it is easier to learn a language when one is young,” he said. “Music is also a language, comprised of musical tones rather than words. Also, research has shown it takes about 10,000 hours to master any skill proficiently. Better to start when young.”

Friday's student recital begins at 6:30 p.m. in Kimbrough Concert Hall. On Saturday, McLean will host his master class at 9 a.m. and a meet-the-composer event at 10:30 a.m., both in Kimbrough Concert Hall. Later that afternoon, there will be a clinic at 2 p.m. in Kimbrough 101.

These events are free and open to the public.

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