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Piano Lessons…at School?

Piano Lessons…at School?

Paul Soulek

St. John Lutheran School in Seward, Nebraska educates 170 students in grades K-8. The offering of private piano lessons during the school day has quickly grown into a valuable supplement to the church and school’s strong music program. 

The program is organized by St. John’s church and school music staff. Lessons are taught by music education students from Concordia University along with a local piano teacher who is a member of the congregation. 30-35 students take advantage of this opportunity on an average year. Support staff at the church and school are instrumental in determining best locations and availability for lessons. Classroom teachers provide a list of times when students could be excused for a 25-minute lesson during the school day. 

Parents use a Google Form to sign up their children for lessons and provide their contact information. The form also provides information on lesson fees, attendance policies, and payment information. The school music teacher enjoys the challenge of a puzzle and does a great job matching piano teacher availability with the list of interested students. Teachers receive a list of their lesson times along with parent contact information. The piano teacher picks up the student from their classroom at the first lesson, but students travel to their lesson on their own in subsequent weeks. Kindergarteners especially enjoy this grown up responsibility!

The songs of the Church are an integral part of piano instruction at St. John. Piano teachers and church/school staff frequently arrange the school’s Hymn of the Month in a simplified setting, and students often use this as the prelude for weekly chapel services. Individual instruction also allows students to grow quicker in their musical development, which also benefits choral and instrumental ensembles in the rest of the school.

The financial and personnel investment for our school has been minimal and the rewards have been great. Parents enjoy having one less after school activity, and teachers and support staff are eager to help in areas of logistics and scheduling. Students enjoy great teachers in a friendly and familiar environment. I see future church musicians learning to love the songs of the Church. Praise be to God for this gift in our midst!