Those of you who follow CIPC closely know that the organization’s staff and volunteers are firmly committed to ArtsConnect, the outreach and education program designed to help Celebrate the Art of Piano within our community. The program works with professional artists, community organizations, schools, health care organizations, and generous foundations to create innovative educational programs for young people, and to present concerts that have broad based appeal for all generations. One of the premiere projects of the ArtsConnect program is PianoKids.
PianoKids has taken several forms since it was first launched last year, but its central purpose remains constant: teach music fundamentals to school children in fun, interactive, and engaging ways. The first iteration had a trio of musicians (piano, violin, and cello) working with very young children in pre-K to third grade. The trio visited 11 schools. A second project brought older children to the 2016 competition, where they spent a full day learning music concepts through song and dance, met musicians and their instruments at an instrument “petting zoo,” watched competition performances, met contestants, and learned about rhythm by creating their own drum line.
This year PianoKids will work again in the schools, this time with children in grades K through 7 and with a new trio made up of Emily Rapson (French horn), Madeline Tolliver (flute), and Natsumi Shibagaki (returning on piano). It is being presented with strong support from the Cleveland Foundation and the George Gund Foundation.
Sophié van der Westhuizen, Director of the ArtsConnect program, explained the changes. “We’re returning to several of the same schools and we wanted to introduce new instruments to keep things fresh and interesting,” she said. “At the same time, by expanding the age range, we’re able to invite more students to join in the fun.”
The expansion takes several forms in addition to the new trio. By partnering with the Cleveland School of the Arts, the Rainey Institute, and the Boys & Girls Club of Cleveland, PianoKids will work for the first time with music students. The PianoKids Trio will present a group learning program tailored specifically to their higher levels of knowledge, as well as master classes for selected students.