Art Beat: Area piano teachers and students get ready for Piano Extravaganza

For many kids taking piano lessons is often the first step into the world of music and luckily here in the Black Hills there is a group of teachers who offer them more than one way to play.

In this week's Art Beat we'll take a look at what it takes to get ready for an upcoming event that gives piano students the opportunity to team up.

These four piano students have each been taking weekly private lessons for years, but on this day they are working together getting ready for the upcoming Piano Extravaganza.

Diane Ketel, Piano Teacher, says "It's organized by the BH Area Music Teachers Association which is part of the Music Theacher's National Association and we do this because pianists, as the boys said, many times don't get to play together with others and life is good when you have to play well with others."

These piano students each practiced the same pieces during their private lessons and this is the first time they are playing their songs together.

Levi Busching, Piano Student, says "So we're doing some duets together. There's two parts to them, a primo and a segundo. One of us plays primo and one of us plays segundo.So it's basically a song split into two parts for two pieces, or two people."

Playing in the upcoming Extravaganza also gives the kids a taste of what it's like to play in a band or orchestra.

Diana says "So this gives a chance for these young people to learn how to follow a director and we have six different levels so that even a first year student can participate in this and learn how to be part of an ensemble."

These students like to change it up a little and enjoy the double duet format and the other benefits of a group performance.

Youngjin Yang says "You get to work with other people, because usually when you're playing piano you play by yourself."

Jess Christensen says "That you get to work with other people. Because usually when you're playing piano you play by yourself and when someone makes a mistake you just keep going because you don't who and you just keep going."

Luther Busching says "I like it since there's a lot of people and then you get to meet a lot of people who all share your interest in the piano and you get to talk with them and stuff ."

Studies have shown that music can and does benefit children is so many ways.

Diane has been teaching piano since college and knows the studies are true.

Diane says "First of all it helps them organize things. The practicing helps with schedule maybe 15, 20 minutes of their day. But also by the time they are done they are musically literate and they can read music."

Many students first learn to play piano and often other instruments follow.

Jess says "I like it because it's basically the one instrument you can learn to help you learn every other instrument and it's also a lot of fun."
Luther says "It just seems very colorful since you can play it so many different ways. Some instruments aren't as colorful and more one way to play it."

The Piano Extravaganza will feature performances by 40 teachers and students with six pianos all together this Saturday at the Rushmore Mall starting at 1 p.m.

The parents of the four boys who were featured in this story reiterated how music has been beneficial in their son's lives from helping them with organizational skills to getting better grades.