If you take an underserved students in a Kansas City middle school, add University piano professors 40 miles away and then put them together with a new Disklavier, what do you get? Hopefully, you get a successful, new way to teach piano to a new generation.

A sixth-grade boy sits at Eisenhower Middle School while his piano teacher sits at the University of Kansas in Lawrence.

The two are among nine student/instructor pairs who’ve been working together for four weeks through a first-of-its-kind partnership involving the Kansas City, Kan., School District and KU Pianos Without Borders.

With help from a charity called the Band of Angels, the latest in piano technology is allowing these Eisenhower students a chance for private lessons.

And the results are already encouraging.

“I’ve seen it in action and I know it works,” said Mike Myers, owner of Myers Music and a member of Band of Angels. Myers Music is one of the leading providers of school instrument rentals in the area. “It is one of the coolest things I’ve seen in a long time.”

A student music teacher in Lawrence taps a key on his piano, and that key on the middle school baby grand piano strikes a string. It’s music, and distance learning at a whole new level.

The implications are also pretty exciting.
“As far as we know this program is the first time the Disklavier has been used for remote lessons in a partnership between a college and elementary or middle school students,” said Dan Rodowicz, who manages keyboard division sales for Yamaha Corp. of America. “We’d love to see many more using this technology. You’re no longer constricted to time, space and distance. You could teach anyone from here to Russia.”

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