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Piano Pals: The Rehearsal Must Go On Regardless of Weather, Prom, Buses or Braces!

Charlotte Holliday

Not even tornado warnings could deter 23 determined Gaithersburg Elementary Students and 12 dedicated Tacy Foundation Volunteers from getting in one last practice on April 22, before the children gave their final concert of the school year on May 3.

The children really needed their volunteers. Their performance was only a week away. What’s more, these students were just coming back from Spring Break, so they were out of practice. You can imagine that things were a bit rough.  This was their last chance to be ready to play in front of a live audience.

The Tacy Volunteers had their own obstacles to overcome. One student had prom that night. Another had just gotten braces that day.  A third student had to negotiate the bus routes from Richard Montgomery High School in Rockville to attend.  Their pupils were preparing to perform not only for their parents and teachers, but also for the assistant principal and principal.

The Tacy Volunteers had been working with their pupils all year under the Tacy’s Foundation’s Piano Pals® program. Piano Pals provides free music lessons at Title I Elementary Schools.  The lessons are taught by middle and high school students who have shown great talent in music and who have the great privilege of private piano lessons. They donate their time as mentors for the program and receive Student Service Learning credits for hours onsite.

For some of the students who take lessons through this program, Piano Pals® provides the privilege of learning to play a musical instrument. Studies have shown training in music patterns are the foundation for learning. The program also plants the love of music and performing in the next generation, regardless of their family income.

There are other Piano Pals® programs throughout Montgomery County. Fox Chapel Elementary School has 22 children enrolled in Piano Pals® and ten mentors. Brown Station Elementary School has 34 children in the program and 17 mentors. Brown Station also has a Guitar Pals program. Donations to the Tacy Foundation help to pay for the keyboards and music books that are used to teach the children. Donations can be made through the Foundation’s website at https://www.tacyfoundation.org/collections/donate-support.

“In all the Piano Pals program we have a waiting list,” said Founder Charlotte Holliday. “It’s one of the few after school enrichment programs that’s provided free of charge.”

The Founder also noted both individuals’ donations and people make the program a success. She thanked Ms. Kristyn Futrowsky, first grade teacher and afterschool program coordinator at Gaithersburg Elementary for inviting Piano Pals into her school each year. She noted that the school had given the program five classrooms to teach the students after school. She added that all the schools have done a great deal to make the program a success.

“To the administrators who, without blinking, say ‘yes’ to request after request and open up their school and their hearts, we say ‘Thank you!’  When they add children to the program from the wait list, provide connection with parents, and support the learning that music study offers with their time and access, all we can do is express our gratitude.”

Charlotte Holliday also thanked the Tacy Foundation student volunteers for their leadership.

“To Chief Interns Bao-Long, Steven, Candace, Holly, Emily, and Isabelle, you have demonstrated a creativity, generosity, and integrity far beyond your years, Holliday said.”You inspire me.”

The Foundation is also in need of adult site mentors. Two are needed for each Piano Pals® location: one adult site supervisor and one assistant. Adults who wish to support the program can reach out to the Foundation at: thetacyfoundation@gmail.com.


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