Austin Academy is lucky to have one of the five piano labs in the GISD. Only one other middle school has a piano lab.
Our facility contains 18 digital pianos for the students to use during class. The keyboards offer a real piano keyboard feel with some fun and exciting extras. Students can choose from a variety of different electronic sounds to personalize the music they’re playing, and choosing to record their playing allows them to hear their performance immediately. The recording component includes recorded performances of over 50 masterworks from great composers. The students can listen to themselves on the headsets that are provided, and ask me questions using the headset’s microphone.
Students may enroll in Piano Lab as early as 6th grade, and can continue their piano studies throughout their middle school career.
Our classes contain students in all three grades at a variety of ability levels from beginner to advanced. No prior piano training is necessary, and those who study piano privately may enroll to take advantage of the extra practice time and our wonderful equipment.
Our curriculum includes basic to advanced keyboard technique, method book study, work at-your-own-pace practice time, and solo and ensemble opportunities. A piano ensemble is simply a group of 2 or more pianists performing at the same time. Too often, pianists play only by themselves. But with our lab setup, our students have the opportunity to play together through their headsets while actually playing on separate keyboards. Our students perform on an Ensemble Recital in the Fall in the AAE Cafeteria.
There are a variety of other performance opportunities for Piano Lab students.
In addition to the Fall Ensemble Recital, we have a Spring Recital in May. In December, I take the Piano Lab students into the community to perform in recital. Also, this year, nearly one-quarter of the piano lab students chose to participate in our district’s middle school Piano Solo & Ensemble Contest with the majority of the students receiving a 1st division rating.
Another unique opportunity here at Austin Academy is the choice to take Piano Lab as a 0-Hour class.
It meets every day at 8:00 and is a class for a grade just like any other class that meets during the day. Transportation is the parent’s responsibility since the buses don’t run that early. There are strict attendance guidelines so be sure your student could be here before signing up for this time. Also realize that 0 Hour piano is a very popular course and usually has a waiting list of students so not all can participate. If you have questions about 0 Hour, please speak to a counselor.