2009-01-15 / Local & State

Students Get Hands-On Musical Experience

SF's music curriculum gets boost from "Yamaha" keyboarding program
By Chanin Rotz-Mountz STAFF WRITER

Southern Fulton music teacher Dan Meredith goes over a quick refresher with third grade students on the ins and outs of the Yamaha keyboarding system that gives them hands-on experience in learning different music concepts. Southern Fulton music teacher Dan Meredith goes over a quick refresher with third grade students on the ins and outs of the Yamaha keyboarding system that gives them hands-on experience in learning different music concepts. After 20 years of utilizing the same textbooks, longtime music teacher Dan Meredith wanted to start off this school year at Southern Fulton on a fresh new note - literally.

Armed with information obtained at a recent state music teachers' conference, Meredith successfully pitched the idea of implementing a nationwide concept at Southern Fulton known as Yamaha in Music Education. The system allows students to experience firsthand the various concepts of beats, melody, harmony, pitch and tempo through navigating their own state-of-theart keyboard, thereby allowing them to be active participants instead of onlookers.

In existence for well over 20 years nationwide, Meredith stated the implementation of the Yamaha program in grades kindergarten through sixth at Southern Fulton has been well received by the student body. In fact, the interest has been so great, a possibility could exist in expanding the program to the entire middle school level.

Each of the district's 15 student keyboards, which are designed and built for more rugged use, are equipped with two sets of headphones as well as a removable plate, allowing the station to convert from two users to one. The curriculum, Meredith indicated, is completely written by Yamaha and has been easily adapted to fit his former textbook curriculum.

"The system allows students to work collaboratively with a partner or by themselves," said Meredith, who noted muted speakers and headphones further allow students to work quietly on their own while being monitored through a nearby computer by their instructor.

Quizzes can be taken individually at the conclusion of each lesson plan with the results computed and logged in the computer system. Feedback is automatically given to each student through headphones at the completion of each quiz in hopes of bettering future results.

"I'm impressed with the progress I've seen thus far. The challenge, however, has been starting each grade at the same level of instruction," Meredith stated.

Even though Meredith has been impressed with the reaction and positive response from all seven grade levels, the benefits are already evident among his students - even those with reading difficulties who may have had problems reading music and learning words to a song.

"We're not teaching kids piano lessons. Our kids are learning firsthand about pitch, tempo and other musical concepts," concluded Meredith. "The kids are picking up songs faster and are better at singing on pitch by using these techniques."

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