Aural Skills Games
Music Blocks commenced their piano program in October 2017, for students at Sunny Hill Elementary School in Carpentersville, where, according to the Illinois Department of Education, 90% of the students in 2017 were classified as low income. The vast majority of these families could not afford either private lessons or a piano in their home and may not even have enough space in their home to furnish a small piano or keyboard. To address this, Music Blocks provided current Sunny Hill students in grades 2 to 5, semi-private lessons at Sunny Hill as an afterschool activity. They supply full length (88 weighted key) keyboards, with stands, stools and headphones and the music lesson books and materials so students can take lessons on site at Sunny Hill. To better ensure the students’ success with the program, Music Blocks offers 30 minute private or semi-private lessons (depending on the grouping of students) to each student, three days per week, by fully qualified, experienced piano teachers.
Every 4-6 weeks students will have group lessons consisting of approximately 6-8 students. Group lessons will provide an informal performance opportunity where students can play current repertoire for their fellow music students. In addition, students will enjoy various theory and musicianship games and activities to reinforce their reading skills in a fun, group environment.
Music Blocks has recently expanded its program offering to include two student partner lessons for First Graders. The partner lessons are offered two days per week and are held at Faith Lutheran Church.
This program includes a new curriculum that focuses on building the necessary skills such as small motor development, understanding the keyboard, learning general music concepts, rote learning and aural/listening development, all designed to prepare young students (Kindergarten and First Grade) for a standard instrumental music reading program.
Holiday and Year-End recitals at Sunny Hill and in larger public venues, such as the Barrington Area Library and Barrington's White House present the opportunity for students to work toward a repertoire goal while building the grit and confidence to perform their music selections in front of a large audience-important life skills.
In late March, 2020, with the District 220 move to remote learning, Music Blocks also started offering private lessons to Sunny Hill students online. Gradually, online enrollment increased as Music Blocks solicited and facilitated donations of keyboards, digital pianos and even a few acoustic pianos to Music Blocks families, allowing students to continue lessons safely from their home. Through persistent efforts, Music Blocks found a way to connect online with nearly 100% of the students originally enrolled in the on-site piano program. The Online lesson format established during the COVID 19 shutdown presents another option for students to continue lessons after graduating from Sunny Hill Elementary.
Music Blocks resumed in-person lessons in late October 2021 thanks to the generosity of Pastor Mark and the volunteers at Faith Lutheran Church in Carpentersville. This additional venue for piano lessons has proven ideal for students who have graduated from Sunny Hill Elementary and continue to demonstrate a strong desire and commitment to their piano studies.