Steinway & Sons impressed with piano education at Wayland Baptist University

Fountain was teaching a piano lesson using Steinway’s technologically advanced Spirio | r piano.
Fountain was teaching a piano lesson using Steinway’s technologically advanced Spirio | r piano.(Courtesy)
Published: Mar. 14, 2022 at 4:39 PM CDT
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LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - The director of Customer Experience at Steinway & Sons in New York City, Michael Cabe, visited Wayland Baptist University to see Steinway’s Spirio | r piano in action.

Cabe is a project leader for Spirio. He wanted to see how Wayland uses the technologically advanced piano to teach students remotely. For this occasion, Dr. Richard Fountain, professor of piano, set up a lesson with Brieyanah Session, a student at Talkington School for Young Women Leaders in Lubbock. Session played the Spirio in Lubbock while Dr. Fountain and Cabe watched and listened to the Spirio in Plainview.

“Plenty of other places are now asking what’s being done. How can we use this in a functional manner in education? And we are using Wayland as the example of that,” Cabe said.

Even though the technology is still at an early stage of development, Cabe was impressed at how well the process worked.

Dr. Fountain and Dr. Kennith Freeman, associate professor of collaborative piano, explained that they used Spirio to work with 12 students in preparation for the UIL high school district academic contest. Freeman said of the 12 students, 11 moved on to the upcoming state competition.

Fountain said being able to coach them on an actual piano instead of a keyboard is a considerable advantage to the students. An actual grand piano is much more nuanced than a keyboard and adds to the overall musical experience through the player’s technique.

The students have been very receptive to learning remotely through the Spirio experience. In fact, in some instances, it might even be easier to teach through the revolutionary new technology.

“Kids now, this is how they speak,” Fountain said. “All of the students at Talkington are used to using technology. For [Session], this is a very natural environment.”

Cabe, who is continuously working to improve the Spirio experience, took extensive notes that he said he would take back to New York and implement as the project evolves. Brian Elmore, a Steinway representative, said Wayland and Spirio are having a tremendous impact on the future of piano education. Many schools Steinway is working with are unsure how to implement the technology. E

“Their fear needs to be overcome with the reality that if we can do this in Plainview, Texas, in an effective way, then we can do it anywhere,” he said. “Let’s set it up and do a lesson from here to students anywhere and have an impact.”

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