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Baton Rouge, Louisiana
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Keys to success

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BATON ROUGE - Winbourne Elementary students are learning to read music and play the piano in an effort to help them in other core classes.

The East Baton Rouge School District introduced the piano classes at the beginning of the school year.

"They were so excited about putting their little fingers on those keys and making sound," music teacher Stephen Watkins said.

Watkins along with Robin Yee and her husband teach nearly 20 students three times a week.

Piano skills are known to help students in other areas, such as math and English.

"That's our expectation that we are going to move the needle on these kids not just musically and embracing all the quality of life that can give you but their test scores as well," Raph O'neil said.

O'neil Music and Yahama donated more than a dozen keyboards to start the program.

The course includes students from diverse backgrounds.  Students with behavioral problems are paired with gifted students for the class.

"At first, they would just look at it and not know what to do or where to start, and I think after the first few weeks they know now the first things you have to look for before you begin a piece of music. They don't just [say] 'oh I don't know what to do.' They know exactly what to do," Robin Yee said.

The district plans to track the students' progress and hopes to expand the program into other schools.

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