Learning to read and play music has never been more fun.
That’s because historical musicians like Beethoven and Mozart are now teaching the kids in the Lower Sackville Boys & Girls Club how to play the piano.
Through a new computer program called MusIQ HomeSchool, which was launched at the B&G Club on March 28, children are learning to play and read music, as well as improvise and compose songs on a weekly basis.
“The kids absolutely love it,” said Alana Doucette, director of programs at the B&G Club. “We get a lot of them asking if they can stay a little bit longer each time, and we don’t hear that a lot otherwise.”
MusIQ HomeSchool was edulaunched by a company called Adventus International and includes a keyboard that hooks up with a computer while historical characters walk kids through each musical lesson.
“It’s a completely different approach to learning music than we’ve ever experienced before,” she said. “It mixes the two things they like the most: computers and music. Plus, they’re learning without knowing that they’re learning.”
The Music Club gets together once a week for an hour-long class which is divided into a half-hour classroom lesson and a half-hour of computer time.
“It’s a blended learning program that combines traditional activities with modern activities,” said Jim Mullen, CEO of Adventus International. “There are many hundreds of steps within the program and there is immediate feedback, which encourages a response from the students. That multiplies the teacher by 20 or 30.”
The individualized program allows each student to log in to their personal account — starting exactly where they left off — which lets them work their way through the lessons at their own pace. “If they do something wrong, the computer says ‘nope, try again,’” said Doucette. “It’s very immediate and very interactive when they do something right or do something wrong.”
The B&G club has one set of the program, which includes 10 computers and 10 keyboards, and is hoping to fund the money to put a set in each B&G Club locations. Each program costs about $7,600 and can host 20 kids per session because they participate as partners.
“It’s keeping a lot of kids involved in this really developmental program, weekly for years,” said Mullen. “Kids like learning this way; they respond really well to it. And the longer you do it, the bigger the impact it has. It’s a big impact, too, not a small impact. Kids are getting this confidence on their academic achievement side that really has a lot of mileage . . . It’s a wonderful boost that we can provide to kids who need it.”
Doucette couldn’t agree more.
“It provides each individual child with a different avenue, you know, it may not be my thing, but it might be your thing but you wouldn’t know because you never got the opportunity to try,” she said. “It’s all about giving them the opportunity to explore.”
“Learning how to write and play music opens up more in a child’s brain, it enhances their ability to read and do math, it’s not just about the music here,” continued Doucette. “Plus, they don’t see it as a ‘I’m sitting down and taking a lesson,’ they see it more as entertainment and before they know it, they can read music and sit down and play a song.”