Carolyn Klein's piano studio, which is located at The Christian Academy in Sikeston, consists of four digital pianos in which students are able to plug in headphones and listen to themselves play individually. After practicing individually for a few minutes at the beginning of class, the students spend most of their class time playing as a group and working out kinks together.
"The children love this because they're not singled out and they're not made to feel that they didn't learn the piece as good as they should have," Klein said. "They move ahead as a group."
Klein thinks the students get "the best of both worlds" by learning in the classroom piano lab.
"They're getting both advantages. There are times during the lesson where I just take one on one while the others have the earphones on and they're practicing," she said. "The stimulation and the enthusiasm of all of them playing together gives them incentive to work harder. It gives them so much desire to keep up. They have camaraderie but they also have a little competitiveness."
Klein said she includes lots of incentives for the students, such as prizes for practicing (Klein recommends at least 100 minutes a week) or stickers for good work. At the end of this summer's session, the students will have a pizza party to celebrate their hard work.
Teresa Dansby, whose son, Noah, takes lessons from Klein, is surprised by her son's progress within the past year.
"To play like they're playing for no more lessons than they've had, she has to be really good," Dansby said.
"She's a really good teacher. She'll always help you with questions you ask, Noah said. He is currently participating in Klein's summer session class.
While the summer session is a bit more laid back, classes during the school year are typically once a week for 45 minutes. Students are able to show off their newly learned skills at two recitals each year -- one at Christmas and one in the spring. Klein said the recitals consist of all different types of music, from patriotic music to songs from musicals. The summer students end their session by playing pieces for each other and celebrate their work with a party.
Klein, who taught piano lessons previously from 1977 to 1987, said, she first saw the classroom piano concept while she was teaching elementary music in Memphis, Tenn., where she taught from 1989 to 2005. It immediately interested her because it was something she had never seen before. When she decided she wanted to open her own classroom piano lab, she did a little research herself.
"I gleaned from all of the info I could find on the Internet, went back and reread some of the information I had from when I taught in Memphis," Klein said. She also noted that she read about all the different cities that have incorporated classroom piano into their city school systems.
Klein began teaching classroom piano classes in September 2007 with only six students. She finished this school year with 10 students, and has 13 enrolled for the upcoming school year. She said she may add another piano to her studio next year if her roster keeps growing.
To enroll a child in Klein's classroom piano lab, contact her at 472-5109.