Cornell Piano Society -- for beginners and virtuosos alike -- offers lessons, classes

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Joe Schwartz

Piano lessons for less than $5 and access to master classes are just a few of the benefits for members of the Cornell Piano Society (CPS), a student-run club that offers piano lessons to some 80 people each semester for a nominal fee.

Although CPS also sponsors music workshops and large-scale events, the biggest draws for the 175-plus membership are the piano and theory lessons it offers, says Marwan Sledge '11, president of the society.

Students and teachers -- who do not have to be Cornell affiliated but must be 18 or over -- are paired based on such factors as skill level, says Sledge, and are expected to meet weekly for the semester. Lessons are not restricted to just Cornell students; faculty and staff have taken lessons as well. "We've even received requests from Ithaca residents," says Sledge.

CPS not only benefits the students -- some of whom are beginners -- but the volunteer teachers, who get free club membership (normally $10 for Cornell students, $15 otherwise each semester), free key access to Lincoln Hall's grand piano practice rooms and volunteer hours if they are Cornell Tradition students.

"The key gives them 24-hour access to Lincoln Hall so that they can set up piano lessons at any time at their convenience," Sledge says.

For many of the teachers, the biggest reward is tracking their student's improvement. "It's really satisfying watching your student improve," says Deborah Chu '13. "For example, my student who didn't know anything about piano in the beginning can now play a full piece."

Steven Han '12 added that as long as his student's expectations are fulfilled, he feels a sense of accomplishment.

Last semester, CPS hosted its first large-scale event -- ChristmaHanuKwanzaakah, a holiday-themed concert Dec. 3, as well as a master class for more accomplished piano players with Professor Phiroze Mehta of Ithaca College in November.

A long-term goal of CPS is to get more involved with community service, teaching children and spreading the love of piano.

"We're constantly trying to develop more of a sense of CPS community," said Dean Guo '11, financial manager. "We have a large base of teachers and students. If we can come together and improve based on our love of music, we can be a successful club on campus."

Cornell Piano Society meets Saturdays at 2 p.m. in B20 Lincoln Hall. For more information, visit http://rso.cornell.edu/pianosociety/. Upcoming events include student-teacher pairings, Video Game Night and the annual Johnson Museum Concert.

Dorothy Chan '12 is a writer intern at the Cornell Chronicle and a member of CPS.


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