A new partnership with the Chattanooga Public Library provides free piano lessons to local kids.
The Department of Performing Arts’s Music Division recently donated piano keyboards to the Chattanooga Public Library after upgrades to the University piano lab. The keyboards found new homes in the public library’s sound studio and on the fourth floor, but most of them sit nestled in an alcove of the second, children’s-only floor in the downtown library.
Two free piano classes meet once a week to teach the fundamentals of music making to kids. On Tuesday nights, the class taught by Martha Summa-Chadwick ’96 is an inclusive class, meaning, it teaches kids with neurological challenges and more traditional students in one setting.
The Thursday night class is led by Lynn Worcester Jones, assistant professor and keyboard area coordinator at UTC. Both volunteer teachers are assisted by teaching assistant interns and music majors Autumn Skiles and Lindsay Betts.
Nikolasa Tejero, associate professor of music theory and applied clarinet, is the driving force behind the keyboard donation and Scrappy’s Keyboards program. This isn’t the first time she’s facilitated a partnership between UTC and the public library.
After the success of her program Symphonic Tales, an event which began in 2014 and one that brings story time alive with area musicians and games for local preschoolers and library patrons, Tejero says she began brainstorming more ways to bring music education to area kids in underserved populations. She felt a strong need for more community access to free music education and knew the local public library would be a natural fit.
The young students spend eight weeks developing piano skills and exploring their talents in music making as they follow curriculum curated by the volunteer teachers, Worcester and Summa-Chadwick.
“These are for the most part, beginners … so these classes are geared for beginners. You’re not required to have any special skills when you show up, but you’re guaranteed to have a few when you leave,” Tejero explains.