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Standing (from left) are UTSA music students Yanjing Elfman,
Shannah Lindgren, Justin Reich and Lisa Chung. Sitting (from
left) are Professor Elizabeth Gutierrez with aspiring pianists
Asa Santos, Kalli Sirkel and Jakob Mayer.

Discover Piano program inspires young pianists

By Tim Brownlee
Assistant Director of Public Affairs

(Jan. 31, 2007)--Late last fall, Edda Mayer's son Jakob asked, "Mom, don't we go to piano lessons today?" She was reluctant to tell him the lessons had ended the previous week, because she knew how disappointed he would be.

Offered by the UTSA Department of Music, the Discover Piano program teaches elementary students to read music and play the piano in just 10 weeks. UTSA student pianists under the supervision of Professor Elizabeth Gutierrez teach the young students.

"Jakob had never played piano before, but he loved the lessons and picked it up very quickly," said Mayer, special project assistant in the UTSA Office of the President. "He was doing so well, that we went out and bought a piano. The kids had a recital at the end of the program and did a wonderful job."

"Jakob was very sad when it was over, so we are continuing his lessons," she added. "He started in another program this week with Professor Gutierrez, and we hope to discuss private lessons -- hopefully with one of our UTSA students."

"Last semester's Discover Piano program was a tremendous success for all involved," said Gutierrez. "The young students benefited greatly from the interaction with UTSA student pianists who were a never-ending source of inspiration to them. In turn, UTSA pianists acquired the knowledge and ability to teach the lifelong skill of music making at the piano. I look forward to the continued development of this valuable outreach program."

The UTSA Discover Piano program began in 2002 and is part of piano pedagogy courses in the Department of Music. The program provides pre-college students comprehensive music education at the keyboard.

Undergraduate and graduate piano students who use the program for research and practice teaching provide the lessons. Beginning piano instruction is offered to selected elementary school students from the San Antonio area and full tuition is granted on acceptance into the program.

Courses are offered in alternate fall semesters. For information on the next program in Fall 2008, contact Elizabeth Gutierrez at (210) 458-5331.

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