Gilmore Launches Virtual Piano Labs

July 31, 2020

girl stands in front of the gilmore sign with a keyboard

When schools were closed earlier this year due to the coronavirus pandemic, Piano Labs were cancelled. Now, after some very creative thinking and fast action by a team of Gilmore staff, volunteer piano teachers, and helpful folks from Casio and Sweetwater Sound, Piano Lab students are taking lessons from home.

“Students were really disappointed to miss their weekly Piano Lab sessions,” explained Adam Schumaker, Director of Education. “Most of them don’t have pianos at home, so they can’t practice or continue their studies on their own. It became really important for us to find a solution.” He and his team began laying the groundwork in early March.

Three challenges lay ahead: choosing the best video conferencing software that would work across all of the brands and versions of phones, tablets, and computers used by students and teachers; providing tech support to get everyone up and running; and making sure every student had their own piano and access to their piano music.

Software and tech support required hundreds of hours of phone time, researching various options and then walking teachers and students through downloads, tutorials, and connectivity issues. As for pianos, The Gilmore used contributions from foundations and donors to purchase 160 Casio digital keyboards, which are loaned to students free of charge while they are enrolled in Piano Labs.

“The keyboard investment fulfills a longtime goal of The Gilmore,” said Mr. Schumaker. “By making sure every student has a keyboard, we can also make sure that every student has the opportunity for daily practice.”

Nearly 100 students, a portion of the regular student base, currently are enrolled in the labs, which began in early June and will continue through July 31.

The Gilmore’s summer virtual Piano Labs are being taught for previously enrolled students at Woods Lake Elementary School (Kalamazoo), Spring Valley Elementary School (Kalamazoo), Ann J. Kellog Elementary School (Battle Creek), the Maple Street YMCA, The Kalamazoo County Juvenile Home, and KRESA’s Young Adult Program. Additional programs were taught in collaboration with our Battle Creek partners through the Burma Center, Camp I Can through the Urban League, and Battle Creek’s 21st Century Summer Program. . For more information please contact Adam Schumaker at aschumaker@thegilmore.org

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