CLEVELAND — This school year the Cleveland Metropolitan School District expanded its music and arts program to allow students to become more involved in the arts. The district created zero periods, or nine periods, with the K-8 buildings, giving children time to the opportunity to dive into some form of arts five days a week.
At Paul Dunbar Elementary School, on West 29th Street, the music program was missing one thing — a piano.
The school just received a donated piano, thanks to Piano Cleveland's Piano and Keyboard Program.
"We are sometimes referred to as the piano match makers and we knew this was going to be a perfect match," said Emily Shelley, the education and outreach coordinator for Piano Cleveland. "We are making instruments, pianos, more accessible to students to community centers, anyone who wants to start their musical journey that's what we're here to do."
The program launched in January and this marks their sixth donation. Five others have gone to students, an adult and two transitional homes in Lorain County.
"Being able to give music to as many people as possible [is] incredibly important," she said. "Especially when someone is in flux in their life music can be such a healing part of it, so we want them to have access to music if that helps them."
Kimberly Papa is the music teacher at Paul Dunbar Elementary School. Papa has taught music to younger generations for the past 15 years.
"It's awesome. I get to share something that I love and hopefully get the kids to love it to," Papa said. "When I was in school, music was a sanctuary. If I was having a tough time with friends or classes, I knew I could go to the choir room. I knew I could go talk to my music teacher and release my emotions that way - in a healthy way. I want to be that person for my students."
Papa said the piano is going to help amp up her program - helping to implement new options for students, like choir.
"Already in a short amount of time, this has helped immensely. They just respond really quickly to it. There's a love for music whether or they admit to it," she said. "It's a game-changer. It really makes the music program - a music program."
Steve Hoffman, who serves on the board of the Cleveland Orchestra and other organizations within the community, and his wife donated their nearly 30-year-old piano to make the connection between CMSD and Piano Cleveland possible.
"We're just thrilled that it's here. It was bought for our children to help them grow with music and the thought now that it's going to help a lot of other children grow with music is really comforting," he said. "I hope they have fun. I hope they enjoy the movement, I hope they enjoy the rhythm. I hope some of them eventually someday think they want to pursue lessons and become really musicians. Or at least good enough to enjoy themselves and share it with their children."
Piano Cleveland said their goal is to expand and grow the donation program to help set up piano labs inside Cleveland schools.
"We're trying to hit all points of their musical journeys," Shelley said.
If you have an instrument you'd like to donate or are looking for a donated instrument, click here to go to Piano Cleveland.