By Serena Mackey
D.U.E. Season Charter School in Camden, New Jersey, is offering more than Distinction in Urban Education. Even as music education is cut across the nation, D.U.E. Season remains intentional about harnessing the power of music. Their new Roland piano lab makes this possible.
Establishing Performing Arts as one of the school’s four Pillars of Focus, this unique public charter school partnered with Roland in the summer of 2009; D.U.E. Season now boasts 20 Roland FP-4 Digital Pianos, a KR-107 teacher piano, and an RCS-848 Roland Lab Controller with one expansion hub.
The school’s inner city student population embraces its “at potential” rather than “at risk” philosophy. School’s founder, Dr. Doris Carpenter, believes “structured experiences” in the Arts develops not only innate talents and skills, but also “grows autonomy and confidence” all students need for success.
Jenna Havelin, group piano instructor at D.U.E. Season, says the Roland lab creates “an extremely effective environment” for learning. Since the lab’s installation, Jenna has noticed engaged, excited students who have “great intrinsic motivation to learn.”
The RCS-848 Lab Controller remains one of Jenna’s favorite lab features. “It has really revolutionized the method in which we can teach piano to a group of students,” Havelin says, “while addressing the needs of the entire group or individuals.” Using the PAIRS or GROUP feature on the RCS-848, Jenna can teach to a variety of lessons at the same time, allowing advanced or reviewing students an opportunity to learn at their own pace.
Although managing headphone and microphone procedures can be challenging in such an active setting, Jenna says it just requires making routines a part of the students’ classroom experience and expectation.
Well worth the trouble, it seems, as Jenna’s students were invited to perform when Mayor Dana Reed visited the school in March. Using some of the 333 tones and nine drum sets on Roland’s FP-4, piano students performed Negro Spiritual “Follow the Drinking Gourd” with an ensemble of drummers, dancers, and singers, showing how working toward performance quality builds student self esteem and encourages independent responsibility.
Custom created curriculum designed and written by Roland’s curriculum author ensures D.U.E. Season reaches their unique goals. Using Hal Leonard’s Student Piano Library, the materials are customized for the Roland FP-4 student pianos, KR-107 teacher piano and D.U.E. Season’s education needs.
The specially written materials lead Jenna through each lesson in detail, including easy-to-follow instructions which trained Jenna AND the students on Roland piano features, all while learning concepts in class. “My favorite part of the curriculum is how it allows the teacher to interact with the students,” Jenna remarks.
Students not only master piano skills and Performing Arts requirements; the curriculum is designed to exceed MENC Standards for Goals 2000 as well as state education requirements. Together, Roland’s technology tools and D.U.E. Season’s education tools deliver traditional concepts in new and creative ways. The power of music education is alive and well in Camden, New Jersey!