Keith Wiemelt, education and fine arts specialist, at The Kroc Center, is responsible for the fine arts programming such as art classes, music lessons, the Youth Brass Band, and much more. While Keith has only been onstaff at the facility for a year and a half, he is by no means new to the fine arts community. Since being introduced to the trumpet in the 5th grade, Keith has been involved with music, whether he was taking lessons as a child or teaching them as an adult.
Keith began taking private music lessons at the Carl Landrum Music Store and continued his studies throughout the years with various private instructors. He believes that it is the private instruction that he received that made him the musician he is today.
“Private lessons gave me the extra help I needed to qualify for all-district band and to prepare for solo and ensemble contests. I was able to learn the ins and outs of being a musician. Through private instruction, I became a better and more well-rounded musician, which has also made me a more effective teacher.”
I have had so many amazing opportunities because of music. It has been a pleasure to share my experience with my students. It’s great to see this experience come full-circle.
Through the world of music, Keith has been able to visit cities such as Toronto, Washington D.C., New Orleans, Nashville, and even a cruise to the Bahamas. He was able to play in the all-district band and allstate band. He has been introduced to musicians from all over the world and once played in the National John Phillip Sousa Band.
Keith believes that the most rewarding part about teaching a child to play an instrument is witnessing the “light bulb” moments. At this time Keith is working with four new musicians. The students are in 4th grade and starting to play in their school band. “Once you see all of the pieces finally click, after teaching new players how to put the instrument together, make the right sound, and how to hold the instrument, it makes a world of difference and gives you the excitement to teach day in and day out.
The Kroc Center began offering private music lessons during the spring of 2019. Until that time only group music lessons had been offered. Keith found it was difficult to match ability levels in a group setting. He had some students who were beginners and some students who had a lot of experience. Having both levels in the same class made it challenging to give each student the attention they deserved. Moving to the private lesson structure has proved to be more beneficial for participants.
“The Kroc Center now offers true private lessons, where each student is given one-on-one time with the instructor,” stated Keith. “We also offer group lessons of their own choosing. For example, we have two young ladies who take ukulele lessons together and we have several groups of siblings that come in and take lessons together. For many parents, the group lesson structure works well because it’s just one halfhour slot they have to plan for, as opposed to three separate time slots.”
“Music gives children problem-solving skills, multi-tasking skills, and creative thinking skills. Music is one of the few activities that actually connects both sides of the brain. When playing an instrument, children are using the left and right sides of the brain simultaneously. Not many activities do that.
Private music lessons have many benefits. If a student plays in their school band, the children far outnumber the number of band directors on staff. Due to the inability to be provided with one-on-one attention, a student may find themself confused about certain aspects of the musical instruction and need someone who can work with them on the areas that they are struggling to learn. In a private lesson setting, students have an instructor who has their complete attention for 30 minutes.
During the 30-minute lesson, students can expect a warm-up period of about 2-3 minutes, a review of information covered during the previous week’s lesson, and to cover new materials and techniques. Students who start piano or guitar at a young age have an advantage when starting in a band or orchestra as they progress through school. The skills learned on the piano and the guitar are things that students can take well into their adult life.
“I believe parents should enroll their children in music lessons because music offers so many different wonderful life skills and traits that you can not only benefit from in music but in your everyday life,” stated Wiemelt. I have my two oldest children in piano lessons right now. The time we spend working on the piano together at home is some of our favorite times of the day.” •