The independent student news organization of Nicholls State University

Music Department to debut high tech piano lab

September 29, 2016

Nicholls State University Music Department is the process of concluding a $92,000 upgrade to create a high-tech interactive piano lab.

“We had a 16-station lab that was about 20 years old,” Anderson said. “The communication system didn’t work and it really needed to be replaced.”

According to Music Department head Shane Anderson, $72,000 came from the Louisiana Board of Regents Enhancement Fund and both Nicholls technology fund and the Steinway Society of New Orleans donated $10,000 each towards the upgrades.

A teacher station, a 96-inch smart TV, a GoPro camera, and 24 stations equipped with Roland digital keyboards, individual desktop monitors and network capability will compose the new lab.

The integrated system will improve the student learning experience and eliminate issues faced by instructors during demonstrations of positioning in regular classroom arrangements, according to Anderson.

“The GoPro camera attached to the instructor’s keyboard, which will go to the smart board in the front [of the classroom] and to the individual monitors, will allow the students to see hand, foot and body positions,” Anderson said.

The department expects to receive the all the computer equipment in the next few weeks. Anderson said that Nicholls will be providing its students with the latest in technology and equipment for music education once all the upgrades are set up and running.

“The computer equipment will bring much more innovative equipment to the lab and make it special,” Anderson said.

The new keyboard stations are already being used for classes this semester. A communication system completely integrates the instructor and the students over headsets, allowing the professor the flexibility to arrange demonstrations and to communicate to students in different configurations to best suit the class levels and purposes.

“It’s a much more hands on interactive experience,” Anderson said. “Instead of just sitting there playing their thing, the students will be able to interact with the teacher in different ways and with more material.”

The department plans on expanding the lab access by offering interactive music theory classes in there. In the past the lab only hosted piano classes for music majors, education majors and for beginning piano students that are not music majors.

“The students that are learning music theory can relate directly to the keyboard in front of them rather than just sitting at a desk,” Anderson said.

Students can also practice in the lab during the day whenever it is not being used for classes.

Anderson said that another idea is to make the piano lab available to instructors in the area and to promote workshops to explore the benefits of teaching group piano for beginners.

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