Sikeston music teacher helps students learn to play in harmony

Sunday, August 24, 2008
MOLLIE LANDERS ~ Standard Democrat Carolyn Klein teaches piano lessons in a different way. Pictured at a recent practice, clockwise from bottom left, were: Caden Bailey, 9; Hailey Allen, 13; Klein; Sarah Sanders, 12; Bailey Schott, 6 and Noah Dansby, 10.

SIKESTON, Mo — An area resident is teaching piano in a way that's a bit different from the norm.

Carolyn Klein's piano studio, at the The Christian Academy in Sikeston, consists of four digital pianos in which students are able to plug in headphones and listen to themselves play. After practicing individually for a few minutes at the beginning of class, the students unplug their headphones and spend most of their class time playing as a group and working out kinks together.

"The children love this because they're not singled out and they're not made to feel that they didn't learn the piece as good as they should have," Klein said. "They move ahead as a group."

Klein thinks the students get "the best of both worlds" by learning in the classroom piano lab.

"They're getting both advantages. There are times during the lesson where I just take one on one while the others have the earphones on and they're practicing," she said. "The stimulation and the enthusiasm of all of them playing together gives them incentive to work harder. It gives them so much desire to keep up. They have camaraderie but they also have a little competitiveness."

Klein said she includes lots of incentives for the students, such as prizes for practicing or stickers for good work. At the end of this summer's session, the students will have a pizza party to celebrate their hard work.

Teresa Dansby, whose son, Noah, takes lessons from Klein, is surprised by her son's progress within the past year.

"To play like they're playing for no more lessons than they've had, she has to be really good," Dansby said.

"She's a really good teacher. She'll always help you with questions you ask," Noah said. He is a student in Klein's summer session class.

While the summer session is a bit more laid back, classes during the school year are typically 45 minutes once a week.

Klein, who taught piano lessons from 1977 to 1987, said she first saw the classroom piano concept while she was teaching elementary music in Memphis, Tenn., from 1989 to 2005. It immediately interested her because it was something she had never seen before.

Klein began teaching classroom piano classes in September 2007 with only six students. She finished this school year with 10 students, and has 13 enrolled for the coming school year. She said she may add another piano to her studio next year if her roster keeps growing.

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