The following was prepared by an After School staff member.

Back in April 2014, the Valli Kee Community Center obtained a full size digital piano. This piano was, and still is, kept in the office and moved out during free time. Very aware of the community center’s belongings, the kids immediately noticed this new addition on the day it made its appearance.

Naturally, some kids were more intrigued by it than others, but nearly everyone flocked to it and played it like the drums. With many years of piano experience and teaching, I offered to teach anyone who would follow my instructions and put in the effort. However, like learning any instrument, the initial learning process is filled with monotonous alien like tasks many kids dread. This took on a physical form as a 25-page packet called “Introduction to Piano” was given to each kid who showed interest.

On top of the repetitive learning process, the option of “computer free time” at their fingertips made it more difficult for kids to learn. As weeks went by, these obstacles drove many kids away despite encouragement from staff to continue. By the end of the school year, there were two students left; Katya (an 8th grader) and Sofiya (a 4th grader). Other kids still occasionally played on the piano, but these two showed commitment and wanted instruction.

Fast forward to October, Katya and Sofiya have 7 months of piano behind them and have shown remarkable progress. Katya completed the “Introduction to Piano” packet. As a middle school student, she has harder coursework and essentially less time. Regardless of this constraint, she still found time to practice. Sofiya has shown more passion and willingness to learn unlike I have seen in any kid, including myself when I was her age. The majority of kids who take up piano lessons cannot wait for the day they can quit. This will likely never be the case for Sofiya as she has told me many times, “I will never quit piano.”From Hope, To Change

Kent Youth and Family Services

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