“The gift of playing the piano goes well beyond the music,” believes GWA teacher Corrie Beth Noll. “Students who take piano lessons, learn important life skills such as time management, collaboration, critical thinking, and problem solving.”
When Corrie Beth Noll came to George Walton in 2014, she was overwhelmed by the response to piano lessons. She began with 40 private lessons, with an ongoing waitlist. In an effort to reach more students, she proposed group piano classes as an alternative to private lessons. During her time as a graduate assistant at UGA, she taught group piano classes and believed this would be a great fit for GWA. Now, what began with 40 students has grown to 80.
Students in first through fifth grades are able to take group piano classes, while students sixth grade and above are offered private lessons. “We are excited about a new opportunity for upper school students this year,” said Noll. “For the first time ever, a piano class is being offered to them as a fine arts elective.” While group piano classes may seem a little unorthodox to some, they are actually very beneficial to students. During classes, students study varying styles of music, composers, and the history behind the music itself. They also explore music through playing individually and collaboratively. Weekly, pianists in Noll’s classes perform for one another and learn how to be attentive audience members. At the end of each semester, all piano students in the GWA Piano Studio are invited to perform in front of family and friends in seasonal recitals held in the auditorium on campus.
“Our piano classes provide students of all ability levels the opportunity to learn, play, and explore their potential as pianists and musicians,” explained Noll. “Students who play the piano are shown to have higher test scores and perform better in the classroom. Playing the piano is also beneficial beyond the classroom. It is proven that playing piano contributes to a reduction in stress, it stimulates brain development, and it even promotes positive hormone production. George Walton is the only school in our area to offer this type of opportunity to its students. I am blessed to be a part of such an important and valuable program.”