ISU Magazine

Volume 41 | Number 1 | Fall/Winter 2010

Red Hill in winter

Instructor Abbi Clark offers musical advice to Allysa Watt.

Photo by ISU Photographic Services

Piano Program Tickles Keys and Excitement

Fall 2010 Issue | By Andrew Taylor

Fall 2010 marks the 10th anniversary of Idaho State University's Preparatory Piano Program, which has received rave reviews by both its students and instructors, offering an invaluable internship for piano majors and a service much appreciated by the community.

"This incredible program, led by Dr. Kori Bond and assisted by Abbi Clark, is an ISU highlight, providing quality piano instruction to a large number of community children at a very affordable cost," said Herbert Maschner, an ISU's director of the Idaho Museum of Natural History, whose 8-year-old son Alexander participated in the program during the 2009-10 academic year.

The program uses ISU piano students as instructors to teach piano to the public, from preschoolers to seniors. It is an arrangement that has worked well for both parties.

Although most aspiring pianists participating in the program are school age, there are students as young as 5 and as old as 70. Students in the Preparatory Piano Program have a recital at the end of each semester and they can be invited to a master class, taught by Bond or a guest clinician.

The program has taught approximately 500 students in the last 10 years, and now it has grown to where it teaches 60 to 80 students per semester. Individual teachers, depending on their experience, will teach from two to 20 students per semester in private, one-on-one lessons.

But the Preparatory Piano Program is about much more than the experience and enrichment it gives its students: ISU music students, who are the program's teachers, also benefit.

Bond said that it is very important for pianists to learn good teaching skills because teaching piano is a necessary part of their careers.

"Needing to have experience teaching is more true of pianists than most other instrumentalists, and there is a huge market for people wanting to take lessons," Bond said. "Many ISU piano students will make part of their living teaching piano. Students need the experience and skills they learn from this program."

"For me it has been a good time and a wonderful opportunity to learn to teach with other ISU students," said Evan Heath, a piano performance major who has taught in the program for five years. "It allows me to share ideas and experiences with the other teachers and I feel like it has allowed me to greatly improve my teaching."

Heath also noted that it has benefited him financially and that the money he has earned from teaching the piano lessons has helped him pay for his college education. Also, it has allowed him to earn money doing something he loves and that is his vocation.

"I've really enjoyed it," Heath said. "Teaching in the program offers me a direct link to the music community and to opportunities I wouldn't have had, such as judging musical competitions."

To help celebrate the 10th year, the program purchased a new Steinway piano, which will be used for teaching lessons or for practice. The Steinway piano was purchased with assistance from the Bistline Foundation, which provided a $7,000 grant. The other half of the cost was covered by fees collected by the teachers in the Preparatory Piano Program.

Bond expressed appreciation to both parties.

"The Bistline Foundation has regularly and annually supported the ISU Summer Piano Institute, and now it came through with a timely and generous grant when we had the opportunity to buy the piano," Bond said. "This is just one of many ways the Bistline Foundation and the family have supported the arts and music in our community."

The cost of the program is $156 per semester for weekly half-hour lessons, and students have the option for taking 45-minute or hour lessons.

The program accepts new students at the beginning of each semester, but is usually full within a few weeks.

For more information on the program contact Bond at (208) 282-2551 or bondkori@isu.edu.