SHAPING THE FUTURE OF PIANO EDUCATION WITH WAYLAND BAPTIST’S SPIRIO | r INITIATIVE
A bona fide pioneer in the Spirio | r universe, Wayland Baptist University brought Steinway‘s high-resolution technology to the high plains of northwest Texas just before the onset of COVID-19. And there is no stopping them now.
Working with Bryan Elmore, director of educational services at Steinway & Sons North Texas and Houston, visionary piano faculty developed the Wayland Spirio | r Initiative – a realistic assessment of domestic piano education and how Spirio | r addresses a host of challenges.
“What we learned through the pandemic was significant,” said Dr. Ann Stutes, Dean of the School of Creative Arts and professor of music. “We now know that we need not fear distance music education and there are many people beyond our community hungry for quality engagement with the piano. Spirio | r is our instrument of choice for many reasons, but especially for embracing distance learning at Steinway‘s uncompromising level of performance.”
From left: Dr. Kennith Freeman, associate professor of collaborative piano (pictured) and Dr. Richard Fountain recently employed Spirio| r to prepare 12 students for a UIL high school district contest. Eleven of them advanced to a state competition; Community music piano lessons at Wayland Baptist seem much more interesting with Spirio| r technology, as eight-year-old Sammy Strovis attests.
In addition to the collegiate program, Wayland offers a community music school where pupils at every level are intrigued with Spirio | r as a tool for practice and aural discovery. “They engage repertoire more deeply and energetically,” she said.
The spark ignited by Spirio | r could help increase enrollments across the country. “We need to attract more young people to the piano,” Dr. Stutes continued. “A way to do that is to meet them where they are – as digital natives who view learning with an iPad as the norm. Steinway‘s technology and legacy of excellence, in the hands of innovative teachers, is a boon to our discipline. We know we are connecting with more students through this initiative.”
Dr. Kennith Freeman, associate professor of collaborative piano, said students are developing autonomy when practicing with Spirio | r. With the ability to record, step away from the instrument, and playback what the audience is hearing, “they make decisions to determine if what they are attempting to convey is truly coming across or not,” he said. “They evaluate how things need to change.”
When one student majoring in piano heard his first playback on Spirio | r, he quietly shared with Dr. Stutes: ‘I hear my soul.’