Kelly, West Dallas

Kelly is majoring in piano performance and pedagogy at Meadows School of the Arts. For summer 2011, she was named a Maguire & Irby Family Foundation Public Service Summer Intern by the Cary M. Maguire Center for Ethics & Public Responsibility at SMU. Kelly is interning at West Dallas Community School, where she is teaching piano to students in first through fourth grades.

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A recital and a new idea

I finished my final week at West Dallas and could not be more proud of my students. From the moment that they walked onto the stage to their final bow, each student exhibited confidence, dignity and a healthy sense of pride in the work that they accomplished over the summer.

I was pleased with the thought and care that they put into the performance despite some nerves and recital jitters. Each student maintained a steady tempo, most of them were able to project beautiful dynamic contrasts, and when a few of them had memory slips, they were able to skip to the end of their pieces and finish with poise. I found this especially commendable as they played for an audience of nearly 100 people (all very enthusiastic), including family members, friends, and school faculty. That is NOT easy an easy first-time recital experience.

I was so blessed to receive feedback and thanks both from parents whom I had not yet met and those whom I had. The foremost question I received was “Where do we go from here?” Several students (and their parents) have stood out in their work ethic, attitude, natural ability, and dedication, and I am determined to do my best to make sure that they continue to receive lessons during my final year at SMU. I was surprised at how much some of the parents of other students who I thought weren’t as interested in piano lessons want their kids to continue as well.

I am currently in the midst of writing a proposal to Dallas piano teachers and their studios to share my vision with them about continuing these students’ piano lessons until next spring and to ask them for their help in making it a reality. I believe that this could be an especially beneficial situation for proficient high school piano students who are looking for volunteer community service hours to fulfill. This opportunity would allow them to learn and refine the art of pedagogy in a positive environment, and to build relational bridges to a group of people that they otherwise might never have the opportunity to get to know.

I can personally attest to what a positive experience this opportunity is as I have seen growth in my own technique, musicianship, ability to adapt and teach to different students’ learning styles, patience, and compassion.

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