December 18, 2020
How many seven year old kids can say they play in a band? First grader Eloise can! Through School of Rock in St. Paul, Eloise plays the keyboard, performing hits with her band like “Great DJ” by the Ting Tings and Janelle Monae’s “Dance Apocalyptic”. “I like working with a group to make music and getting to know new people and I like my teachers,” says Eloise. “They make playing music together fun! I really like learning new songs and chords. I like to find notes on the keyboard that match the song and rhythm.”
Eloise’s introduction to piano came about serendipitously. Last year, she signed up for music lessons offered by MPA senior Skylar Cernohous, a member of the class of 2020 who now attends the Barrett Honors College at Arizona State University. As part of her senior service project, Skylar gave weekly 30 minute piano lessons to seven MPA students in kindergarten, first, and second grade. “My experience with music helped influence the project. I was in four music classes at MPA and spent a lot of my time with music . I’ve played the piano since I was in first grade, so I wanted to give other children the same opportunity to start young. Piano has been a huge part of my life.
Skylar and Eloise’s connection was immediate. “I loved working with Eloise, she was always excited to come to lessons, and got better every week, I could tell she practiced outside of lesson times which isn’t always the case for kids that age. She was also my latest lesson of the week, so before her lessons, she would sometimes spend time in the Makerspace working on homemade crafts that she would give me, which I found super sweet!” Eloise quickly fell for piano and learned so much from Skylar! “I really liked how she taught me songs that I was interested in. She was my first piano teacher. She was calm, but excited to show me how to play the piano,” said Eloise.
From the start, Eloise loved piano. “My parents saw how much I liked playing and decided to find a place where I could play more music,” she said, adding that she hopes to one day learn the guitar and cello. “Though cellos are bigger than me right now.”
It’s clear that Skylar got just as much out of it as her students. “It was just fun seeing the kids get better every week and learn songs that they wanted to focus on, a lot of them did Star Wars. I’m so happy Eloise has stuck with it. Playing the piano has given me so many life opportunities and it is fun to see her do well.”
Amazingly, Eloise’s mom, MPA’s Makerspace Coordinator Nicole Koen, actually taught Skylar when she was younger. “I remember teaching Skylar in Lower and Middle school when I was the computer science teacher. One of the joys of being a teacher at MPA is that we get a glimpse into the future of our youngest learners. Because we are all on one campus, we can watch students grow and develop into independent thinkers, dreamers, doers, and contributors to our world,” she said. “Skylar’s passion for music came full circle when Eloise had the opportunity to take piano lessons as part of her senior service project. I thought to myself, “Of course Skylar is offering free piano lessons!”.”
Eloise and her band will be playing this Sunday, December 20 at 11:40AM CST, streamed live on School of Rock St. Paul’s YouTube Channel