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New Piano Technology Means Long-Distance Lessons in Kansas City

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In Kansas City, Kansas, new technology means distance is not a barrier for students hoping to study piano in school, the Kansas City Star reports

Using Skype and a piano with special technology, students at Eisenhower Middle School in the Kansas City school district take lessons with university faculty and students at the University of Kansas, 40 miles away. 

The students use a piano that allows the instructor to "play" keys on the student's piano and the student to "play" the instructor's. The teacher and student move through the lesson using video chat, with the teacher modeling and student practicing remotely. (Check out the Star's video for a look at how it works.)

Just nine students are taking lessons so far. They were selected by their music teacher through an essay contest. The Star reports that time was the limiting factor, and that there was more demand from both middle school students and potential teachers.

The program allows students who might not have been able to afford lessons or locate a local piano teacher to study the instrument.

The piano is a Yamaha instrument called the Disklavier, a combination of disk (for floppy disk) and Klavier, the German word for keyboard. The Star reports that this use of the Yamaha piano to connect public school students with teachers remotely is, as far as Yamaha knows, unique. 

While the Kansas City program is after school, other schools have taken steps to incorporate piano labs into school-day music classes. Pianist Lang Lang recently discussed a music education program his foundation is supporting in which students use digital keyboards (and headphones) to study the instrument together in the same classroom. And The Huffington Post featured a piece on a public school teacher who set up a similar piano lab in New York City.

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