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A 'great tool for growth'

New piano lab is a popular addition at Morgan County high school.

New piano lab is a popular addition at Morgan County high school.

September 27, 2005|By TRISH RUDDER

BERKELEY SPRINGS, W.VA.

trishr@herald-mail.com

Seven elementary school students happily tapped their way through "Three Blind Mice" Monday in Berkeley Springs High School's new piano lab.

"We made a huge leap today," noted their teacher Pat Springer. "We can look at the page and talk to our fingers."

Thirty students, including eight adults, are enrolled in the new piano lab's afternoon and evening programs.

Laura Hovermale, the adult and community education director of Morgan County Schools, said two classes are offered for beginners, one for the intermediate level and one for adults. This is the second week of classes, she said.

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Keyboards are used to practice at home by those who have them, she said. Hovermale said she is considering opening the lab another day for those who do not have a piano or keyboard at home, Hovermale said.

One of the beginner students, Robby Bellissimo, 9, is in the fourth grade at Warm Springs Intermediate School. His brother, Anthony is a 10th-grader at Berkeley Springs High School, said their mother, Terry Bellissimo.

"Anthony really enjoys playing piano with Pat Springer and suggested Robby take lessons," she said.

In addition to the afternoon and evening piano lab classes, Springer, the head teacher at the lab, said there are 35 Berkeley Springs High School students taking the class during the day. Another 10 students will be added next semester, she said.

Romey Michael's daughter, Odessa, 7, is also in the beginner class. Michael said Odessa has been interested in the piano since she was 3. Odessa has had a keyboard since that age, and other children who play the piano have shown her some "little things," she said.

"Children need tools to grow and the piano lab is a great tool for growth," Michael said.

Springer has been a piano teacher for 30 years, she said. She recently took an electronic piano technology course at Moravian College in Bethlehem, Pa.

Springer said she can program the electronic piano to repeat the measures, which allows the students to learn small sections of each piece.

"Kids always want to play too fast. This is better than a metronome. They can practice one hand at a time and listen to what the other hand sounds like. They learn the rhythm, the notes and the sound of the other hand."

The adult students want to start at the beginning of the lesson book, Springer said, even though they had some piano lessons a long time ago.

You don't have to read music to be eligible for the adult class, Hovermale said. There are two openings, she said.

Hovermale said she and Springer hope to have a recital at the end of the school year.

Hovermale said 10 classes meet once a week and a new program will start after Christmas. The cost is $50 per student, and a scholarship fund is set up for those students who cannot afford the fee, she said.

For more information, contact Hovermale at 304-258-2430.

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