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Music Matters

A student looks up at a screen displaying Jam 8 "Jamaica" while playing the piano. She wears a headset.Music has always been an important part of the fabric of Alabama School for the Blind (ASB). The school’s first band was organized in 1934 and they have not stopped performing since that time. In 2015 a new music facility was dedicated on the ASB campus, bringing together all band, piano, and choral activities in the school’s first building constructed and dedicated to music education. As more students became interested in learning how to play the piano, ASB faced an increased need for the equipment that it takes to make education in the piano accessible to students with all levels of vision. While the piano lab had the capacity for six Mac Studio computers with large screen monitors, they only had 1 and needed additional funding from philanthropic partners to fully equip the piano lab. 

A grant from the State Council on the Arts funded three additional Mac Studio computers and large screen monitors while additional funding from the Alabama Institute for Deaf and Blind Foundation provided the remaining two computers and monitors needed to provide the piano lab with a full complement of equipment. 

ASB piano teacher, Angela Smith, understands how vital music education is to all students. “The day the new Mac Studio computers and large screen monitors were added to the lab, individual, multi-media, multi-sensory learning spaces were instantly created!  In addition to the many options they provide for enlargement of traditional sheet music, the new equipment allows students to access online curricula, as well as supplementary digital music resources while sitting at a full-size keyboard. By utilizing the ease of access that the new items offer, students can learn and enjoy music in a more meaningful way by reflecting individual learning styles. Learning music encourages creativity, develops talent, builds confidence, increases communication skills, and teaches teamwork.  Fine motor skills are strengthened. It teaches discipline, trains the ear, and allows students to feel and express emotions appropriately. Music education is important because it enhances skills that are needed for students to experience success in so many areas of life,” said Smith. “The transition that our students here at ASB can make is remarkable. I am blessed to witness the transformation of a student who has little exposure to music into a gifted musician. 

Helen Keller once said that education brought light and music to her soul. The same is true for the students at ASB. Thanks to the State Council on the Arts, ASB can ensure the music plays on!