New piano lab installed

Sept. 26, 2007, midnight | By Susie Branson | 14 years, 2 months ago

Grant from Wolf Trap allows update in technology

Blair's piano lab in room seven was completely revamped over the summer to cater to piano, music theory and music technology classes. These updates include new software, communication boxes, flat screen monitors, a digital sound system and improved headsets.

Blair is the only school in the county to have such a modern piano lab with updated technical equipment. The new configurations and equipment in the lab aim to provide students with a more professional and efficient learning environment.

Photo: Josey helps students familiarize with the lab's new software.

The new software includes new features that can allow two people across the room to hear each other play through the headsets, according to fine arts department resource teacher, Sara Josey. All headset communication is connected through the teacher's communication box, allowing the teacher to tune into any student's playing.

Last spring Josey won a scholarship after Montgomery County supervisors nominated her for her outstanding performance in "technology in the arts" classes at Blair. The scholarship included a grant from Wolf Trap's foundation scholarship program which paid for a residency guest to visit Blair and provided funds to update the lab's software and hardware.

When the chosen residency guest, Michael Josephs, who writes music for films, came to visit Blair it became evident that the lab could not last another year due to its constant wear. "The sound was full of static, the wires were frayed, and the electricity would just quit randomly sometimes in the middle of class," said Josey.

Photo: Students practice with the new software programs in class.

While the majority of the work is completed, the lab still needs some minor funds to supply cases and DVDs, and a county worker to come in and hide the jungle of cords hanging from the ceiling. "All we have to do now is re-learn how to use everything," music teacher Michelle Roberts said.

With additions like the newest Sibelius music notation software that guides and records students' performances, the new lab is a huge step-up from last year and strongly benefits both teachers and students. "It is way easier to teach in the room now with the new layout and system making it much easier to maneuver around the desks," Roberts said.

The new lab equipment will also benefit students in the future, providing them with early experiences in working with the new configurations and programs. "The kids who enroll in these specific classes involving the piano lab usually want to continue with this field past the high school level," Roberts said. "The new lab provides the proper experiences, knowledge of systems and the technical idiom to sufficiently send them down their chosen paths."

It is evident that the students appreciate and value the lab's new improvements. "All you heard out of the students on the first day of school was gasps of 'whoa' and 'cool,'" Josey said. "You can really tell they recognize and appreciate it."

Susie Branson. Key facts of Susie Branson: she's a junior in CAP, her favorite food is peanut butter, she plays soccer and lacrosse, she can't stand talking on the phone, loves country music, and her favorite ice cream is Phish Food. She is way too competitive for … More »

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