St. Ursula Academy invested in its fine and performing arts curriculum by adding a state-of-the-art piano lab, which can be used by students in grades 6-12 for a variety of music-related courses. The piano lab follows last year’s addition of a Black Box Theater to also enhance the performing arts curriculum.
The lab is made up of 11 Yamaha Digital Pianos (10 for students, one for a teacher) controlled by an LC4 Lab Controller System. The LC4 system connects all pianos through headsets, which allows students to work individually, in pairs, or in groups. This setup is identical to that offered in university music departments and select high schools around the country. In addition to teaching music and techniques at the piano, the goal of the piano lab is to instill music fundamentals that students may apply to any area of music.
Features of the pianos include 88 weighted keys, with a touch similar to an acoustic piano, as well as the ability to change instrument sounds. For example, students can play 10 different parts of a musical composition, each with a different "instrument." Music faculty member Kristina Perna said, “Often, I'll have students play in ensembles and choose an ‘intelligent’ instrumentation. For example, we might structure the lesson such that lower sounds might be a cello or trombone, while higher sounds could be a flute or violin.”
The Collegiate Block schedule at SUA—where students have four 80-minute classes each semester—allows time for students to learn a subject in more depth. The piano class taught in the lab is a perfect example of a curriculum that needs the extra time for students to learn and practice to master the material.
- Performing Arts