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Integration of pianos in blended learning

Noel Elementary School provides students with the chance to study blended learning stations in addition to traditional subjects.

Blended education is a teaching strategy that is specific to students. “Where students learn based upon their own strengths and limitations,” it states. It is based on individual student data and focuses upon growth,” according to the district website.

Jennie Chavez from Noel said that enrichment laboratories were added to provide students with the opportunity to pursue different interests. Chris Munoz is a music teacher and decided to play pianos. The 16 instruments arrived in August. He is hopeful that Milam Elementary will receive five more.

Chavez said that Chavez also incorporates blended learning in music into his regular classes.

There are stations for students just like in the classrooms. It takes 45 minutes to sit at a piano.

Munoz explained that he gives children a different learning experience by teaching them from different stations.

On Thursday, he was demonstrating to students how different approaches can be used to teach about the grand staff.

Munoz explained, “So, we’re talking to the grandstaff at each of these stations but in different methods, so the hopes are that one or more of those ways is how the kid really understands that concept.”

Chavez claimed that Munoz started at the beginning, learning how to sit at the instrument as well as where your hands are when you touch the keys.

“I’ve been at the beginning of the school year and he’s still learning how to sit properly. At this point he can play an entire music,” she explained.

Chavez said that the program gives students opportunities they might never get otherwise.

Munoz stated, “Most of these kids have never even heard of a piano before.” While I have probably had one in the corner over the years, actually sitting down and using a piano to play is something that these kids are experiencing for the first time in our district. Milam doesn’t have one on campus, but Noel Elementary has it.

Chavez indicated that parents are as excited as he is.

“We have shared pictures with Facebook and other social media. Chavez said that the kids will talk about it at home with their parents and they are excited by the comments and feedback from parents.

“Munoz was telling me today about how students love to go to music. … He felt like PE has always been his competition; you know how PE is loved by the children; music is their passion, so it’s wonderful,” she continued.

Noel has approximately 436 students from grades three through five.

Munoz has been at the campus for four years.

His experience with professional orchestras inspired him to explore piano stations.

“… It was a pleasure to work with the different piano competitions.

Munoz stated, “One of my main goals here, is that every Student, hopefully, Will Continue in Fine Arts when They Go on to Middle School.”

The inspiration of third-graders who have learned the entire song from scratch has been a third-grader. They now want extra time to master the pieces.

Munoz declared, “Everyone wants to be the second one.”

Chavez mentioned that Munoz uses a routine to clean hands for students before they sit down.

“They are aware of how unique it is. I have told them that Odessa’s campus is the only one with this. So they all want the pianos to be treated well. They want to be here for future generations and take pride in it. Once they’re done they shut the lid and turn off the pianos. This area is not permitted to have any drinks. Munoz explained that everyone is following the rules.

Chavez claimed that Munoz has an honor choir. Not all elementary schools do.

Munoz stated that he would like to organize a recital and bring in a piano, or a baby grand, into the cafeteria. He explained that most students use mini or digital pianos.

They are hopeful the COVID numbers will come down so they can perform live. Munoz however has live-streamed them.

Chavez shared that she’s seen the positive impact of blended learning on academics and the benefits pianos can make.

“… They appreciate that personalization. But, then they like that enrichment laboratories have been integrated into their schedules. Each morning, they get to go to a different enrichment center. It’s not always the same one. They know the routine. Chavez stated that they would do the enrichment laboratory first thing in the morning. After that, they would go to class. Chavez also said that it had helped them be more focused and have a greater sense of freedom.

She mentioned that teachers would also like to learn the piano.

Chavez explained that she’s been drawn to classes during walk-throughs. She has also learned about musical instruments and musical staffs.

“… Walking-throughs should last between 5-10 mins. I can’t believe it took me that long. I don’t remember ever having learned that much music. …,” Chavez said.