With funding provided from The Laura Mahnil Fernando Music Scholarship Fund, created to honor the memory of former director and pianist Laura Fernando, who passed away in January in 2011, the Club, under the leadership of project director Judy Evans, initiated the Fernando Piano Program in February, 2012, at Golden Terrace Elementary and Bonita Springs Middle Schools. Not only one of the directors of the Naples Music Club, Judy also serves as an educational consultant to public schools and is an Adjunct Professor at FGCU.
Both the program in Golden Gate and the one in Bonita Springs are offered after school to under-served children. The children begin their lessons with music theory instruction before taking their places at electronic keyboards. They then work on pieces from their lesson books using headphones, knowing they can easily call upon their instructors if they have questions.
A group of Naples Music Club members visited the Golden Terrace program in early May to observe and evaluate the new program and came away feeling that what they saw far exceeded their expectations. Impressions two members of this group voiced are as follows:
From Concert Pianist and Educator Anne McLean: “My colleagues and I were very impressed with this program and with the gifted instructor, who is very skilled at managing the children and designing the curriculum. In my opinion, a program such as this is crucial in bringing many positive elements to under-privileged children including an appreciation of culture, exposure to creative problem solving, enlargement of their social skills, a boost of self-esteem and a safe environment for learning after school with their peers.”
From Concert Pianist Richard Bosworth: “I could see there was an emotional connection between the students and their teacher. There was just the right balance between discipline and nurture, which allowed the students to learn new concepts without feeling self-conscious. This kind of important outreach creates and fosters an awareness of what music really means to our culture.”
Club Treasurer Myra Williams spearheaded the development of this program after exploring options with the Fernando family and is very pleased with its results, “We are certain this program is one Laura would have liked. She herself loved to teach piano and was particularly concerned about students that were economically disadvantaged. The Fernando Piano Program reaches children who otherwise would not have the opportunity to learn to play the piano. This special experience may have untold benefits to them in the years to come.”
Note: Read more about the Club’s Outreach Projects.