Saving our Piano program, Apple

Posted by: JakesMom

Saving our Piano program, Apple - 01/17/13 02:09 PM

Hi all, I hope I'm posting this in the right place. I am Jake's mom. I play no piano myself, but my son Jake has been playing piano since he was 5. He's 12 now, and pretty darn good, in the humble opinion of his mother smile We live in Georgia where the public schools are not the greatest, so we've been sending him to private school his whole life. Financially we can't do it anymore - husband lost his job awhile back and his new one pays half what the old one did. But we thought we had a great plan - we'd enroll him in the Dekalb School for the Arts, a public high school that specializes in performing arts. It would be free, has a great academic record, and he could pursue his two loves, creative writing and the piano. Any applying student has to audition in two majors and those were to be his.

Much to my dissapointment, in this years application, they cut out piano. I called the school and they said due to budget cuts, the piano program was gone. How could they do this? C'mon, the piano is, to me, at least, the foundation, the backbone, of music. How can they have an orchestra without a piano? We are all crushed.

Not sure what can be done. But tell me if you think this is a viable idea or not. I was thinking of contacting piano manufacturers and seeing if, after hearing of the sad state of affairs, they might donate money to get the school's piano program up and running again. Does it seem possible, or are the Steinways and Yamahas just as broke as Dekalb County GA?

On a side note... I read your lovely tributes to Apple. I knew her from the breast cancer boards, as we were both afflicted by this disease. She was also a kind, thoughtful, supportive woman over there as well. I saw with sadness the news of her passing, and for the first time got to see the videos of her play. So beautiful, and so sad to think we'll never hear that again. My health is good, but I do need to rest a lot and sometimes when I'm drifting off I hear the most beautiful music and I think, wait - is that really my Jake playing the piano? He's gotten so good in the past few years. Such a beautiful musical instrument, especially when I hear it played by people like Apple and my boy.
Posted by: Roger Ransom

Re: Saving our Piano program, Apple - 01/17/13 02:21 PM

I doubt if anyone here would know if the manufacturers would donate. You probably should contact them.

You were actually pretty lucky until now. Most of the schools around here don't even have a decent piano at all, let alone a piano program. At a school I worked at until recently, we had to do fund raisers to get a mediocre digital. It's pretty sad but it seems pretty common to cut the arts. Incidentally, they all have a pretty full athletics programs and have made no cuts or very few there.

I would be interested to know if you get any results from any of the companies.

Indeed a sad state of affairs.
Posted by: PianoWorksATL

Re: Saving our Piano program, Apple - 01/17/13 03:55 PM

The piano industry is so tiny as to be invisible compared to other industries. Dekalb County's 2013 School Budget is $1.1 billion. Their annual operations (~$760 million) is about 4x that of Yamaha's annual operations for their entire musical instruments segment (~$198 million)... worldwide.

I would encourage you elsewhere. Local needs are best met locally. Also, piano labs for group lessons are a more modern approach to piano instruction in public schools.
Posted by: TigerRad

Re: Saving our Piano program, Apple - 01/17/13 04:21 PM

Do you have any idea how much money we are talking about? The website says they offer four sections of piano classes. Presumably since this has been offered in the past they already have adequate instruments and physical facilities.

The salary and benefits for one teacher, plus the upkeep on the pianos, doesn't seem like it should be THAT much.

I bet some local arts philanthropist could be talked into endowing such a thing. There are a LOT of rich folks and BIG companies in the Atlanta area.


eta: Plus its an arts high school, so there have to be pianos around for rehearsals, accompanying soloists, dance classes etc.
Posted by: Dave B

Re: Saving our Piano program, Apple - 01/17/13 09:53 PM

I think their biggest concern is the teachers salary. ( + pension + benefits). Most high school bands raise their own money to buy instruments and uniforms, but by law the need to have an accredited teacher.

It wouldn't hurt to talk to other parents. Perhaps contact the Parent/teachers association. It is odd that they would cut keyboard instruments entirely. I'm wondering if they dropped the name "piano" so they can include other keyboard instruments.
Posted by: Michael Taylor

Re: Saving our Piano program, Apple - 01/18/13 12:00 AM

DeKalb county...yikes!!!

It amazing how many different ways that the government wastes money. Until we start electing politicians who are serious about financial management and less concerned about elections, more things (like music programs) will continue to disappear.
Posted by: wouter79

Re: Saving our Piano program, Apple - 01/18/13 03:32 AM

Originally Posted By: Dave B
I think their biggest concern is the teachers salary. ( + pension + benefits). Most high school bands raise their own money to buy instruments and uniforms, but by law the need to have an accredited teacher.

It wouldn't hurt to talk to other parents. Perhaps contact the Parent/teachers association. It is odd that they would cut keyboard instruments entirely. I'm wondering if they dropped the name "piano" so they can include other keyboard instruments.


+1, it's probably not the piano that's gone but the teacher.
Posted by: NancyM333

Re: Saving our Piano program, Apple - 01/18/13 06:22 PM

You can fight it, but it’s probably not going to help. Most school systems have had declining revenue for five years since local funds come from property taxes. A specialized program in a public school would be nice, but they have a huge universe of issues to solve in a big urban district like DeKalb. I think I’d send him anyway, if you like the writing and academic program. You might also take a closer look at your local school and talk to parents of kids like your son. Often public schools do an exceptional job with gifted kids, even if the overall scores are not high. You might be able to do some of the testing or paperwork now before he enrolls.