LAWRENCE – The University of Kansas School of Music has acquired a new Yamaha Disklavier-reproducing piano that will enable elementary school students at a rural, low-income district to take part in remote music lessons through ground-breaking distance learning technology.
The Disklavier piano will be placed in Horton Elementary School, which serves low-income families with 70 percent of the students under the poverty line. Horton Coordinator Will Maderos-Treastor, a School of Music graduate, will head the weekly program at the school beginning in fall 2015.
Scott McBride Smith, professor of piano, will oversee the new project in which music majors will offer elementary students piano lessons via distance learning.
“We wanted to give an opportunity to students who have not had the chance to take piano lessons to do so,” Smith said. “With the remarkable technology of the Disklavier, members of our KU Music Teachers National Association Student Chapter will be able to remotely conduct piano lessons for young students without actually having to commute several hours back and forth to their schools. It’s a win-win, since young people who likely wouldn’t get the opportunity to learn the piano for various reasons will be getting lessons, and it enables MTNA student-members in our program to hone their teaching skills as well as to connect musically with the community.”
Disklavier pianos are infused with a powerful networking capability that enables two or more instruments to be connected over the Internet via Yamaha’s proprietary DisklavierTV, powered by RemoteLive technology. This enables a pianist to perform live in one location while their exact keystrokes and pedal movements are transmitted in real time to the other instrument anywhere else in the world, along with video. This unique technology allows long-distance piano lessons, performances and master classes to take place as if everyone was in the same room at the same time.
The KU School of Music, Yamaha Corporation of America, and Band of Angels, a Kansas City-based nonprofit organization that provides musical opportunities for youngsters in need, partnered to purchase the Disklavier.
Mike Meyer, of Meyer Music, a family-owned music store in Kansas City, and also chairman of the Band of Angels board, was excited about the opportunity to partner with the KU School of Music.
“This is a perfect opportunity to put to good use the advanced distance-learning capabilities that Disklavier technology provides,” Meyer said. “Everyone jumped at the chance to make this a reality once they heard about how the Disklavier would bring together KU student teachers and children and teens who might not otherwise get to experience the joy of learning and playing music.”