The Piano Santa Foundation
P.O. Box 80214, Portland, OR 97280
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Since 2008, Piano Santa has been partnering with a series of elementary schools in the Portland area to bring free, after-school group piano lessons to children.
The First Step Keyboard Program is organized as a 10-week after-school program offered to students in 3rd – 5th grades at no cost to their families. In small group classes, the students learn basic keyboard and music skills such as reading music, finger positioning, tempo and rhythm. PSF provides six keyboards, all the books, and a teacher twice a week for instruction. We offer four classes per week, thus providing 24 students per semester with the opportunity to learn piano with substantial meaningful student-teacher interaction. At the end of the 10 weeks, the students have progressed far enough to play a short piece of music using both hands, which they can show off in a piano recital for their families!
In addition to the group lessons, we offer other educational opportunities through First Step, including presentations to students about how pianos work, and sessions for parents about (1) how to find a good piano teacher, (2) what to look for when obtaining a piano for their homes, (3) how to find low-cost lessons, such as through the “MusicLink” program, and (4) how to apply for Piano Santa scholarships for a free piano in their homes. These efforts are intended to involve the entire family in a First Step student’s musical education, and to strengthen the student’s support network for a lifetime of music.
PSF hires the instructor, provides the keyboards, stands and music, develops the curriculum, and provides educational material. The schools provide classroom facilities, equipment and storage space, as well as supervision for the students from the end of classes until they are picked up by parents or guardians.
First Step Instructor and Music Teacher at McKay Elementary, Beaverton, 2009
The First Step Recital at Markham Elementary, Portland, 2013