Piano lessons fortify math abilities

With skill, talent and 21 years teaching experience under her belt, a dedicated piano teacher was persuaded a while ago by the parents

With skill, talent and 21 years teaching experience under her belt, a dedicated piano teacher was persuaded a while ago by the parents of the Mecca Glen School community to give lessons out of the school.

Christy Harsch started giving private piano lessons out of the school two years ago, during the summer when the current principal Al Libby transitioned into the school. “He was really excited. He could see the potential of giving kids another option,” said Harsch.

“It was a bit of a process because that hadn’t been done here before,” she added.

Harsch had been giving lessons out of another school for 10 years already when Mecca Glen parents began petitioning her for the private lessons. “They wanted that ability to come to Mecca Glen for their own kids.”

Harsch instructs seven students between grades 1 to 6 but says the instrument isn’t limited to just them and anyone at any age can learn to play the piano.

While her lessons are just based at the school and aren’t based on any program or project through the institution, the two areas of study have close ties, according to Harsch. “Music strengthens your special reason skills, which have a direct correlation to math,” she said.

She says for students that are weaker in math, taking piano lessons will build up their math abilities. “For kids who are already strong mathematically, they just fly.”

“It also helps kids learn self-discipline. To be able to start a project and finish a project, which also helps them with class work,” she added.

Having piano lessons available at the school also benefits parents, says Harsch. “To have one (extracurricular activity) they don’t have to run around for, they’re thrilled.”

Harsch has been playing piano for 35 years and knew by the time she was in Grade 3 she wanted to be a piano teacher. She’s earned a bachelor of music in piano from the University of Alberta and a performer/teacher degree from the Board of Music.

“I enjoy seeing how kids learn because everybody learns so incredibly differently,” said Harsch, who also likes discovering how to make learning “click” for each individual.

“Music is a voice and it’s your heart that gets to communicate it. For the people that play better, they’re just better communicators of what’s inside,” she added.