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$10,381 grant supports new Piano Lab at WAHS

A new opportunity this year will work to broaden student reach in the Williamsport Area High School’s music program, thanks to grant funding provided in part by the Williamsport Area School District Education Foundation (WASDEF).

A $10,381 grant from WASDEF’s Violet Compton Estate Fund is supporting a new, innovative music elective that will allow students to make music outside of performing ensembles.

The new WAHS Piano Lab, as it’s called, will be open to all students at the high school in grades nine through 12 to learn the basics of piano keyboarding and composition.

“Using class piano techniques, students can be playing and creating music of their own over the course of the semester, year or over many years, as this elective can be taken multiple times,” said Bernadette Boerckel, supervisor of secondary curriculum and K-12 unified arts.

The lab is also supported by a $10,817 grant from the First Community Foundation Partnership of Pennsylvania through EITC donations received from the First National Bank of PA, Highmark Insurance Group and Woodlands Bank. An in-kind contribution was also made by Robert M. Sides Family Music Centers.

The grants funded the installation of 16 pianos, a teacher piano, headphones, controllers, an expansion kit and training.

“While the initial implementation of this grant focuses on keyboarding,” Boerckel said, “this lab will have tremendous potential to grow into a composition and recording studio.”

Ultimately, younger students who will enroll in the new high school elective in future years may already have familiarity with digitally composing and mixing music.

The Violet Compton Estate Fund was established as a bequest to WASDEF shortly after Compton’s death in 2007, designated for music education. Her memory has lived on through the fund, which has, in recent years, provided more than $30,000 of support to the music program.

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