Music students at the new University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV) are now studying in facilities equipped with a state-of-the-art LC4 Clavinova Lab and several new Yamaha grand and upright pianos. Starting in the Fall 2015 semester, the wireless, technologically advanced music lab and finely handcrafted acoustic pianos have expanded music education offerings for music majors and liberal arts students alike.
The Texas Legislature created UTRGV in 2013 in a historic move designed to maximize the considerable assets of UT Brownsville, UT Pan American (in Edinburg) and the Regional Academic Health Center. As a result of the merger, two excellent schools of music on the Brownsville and Edinburg campuses are pooling resources to take UT music programs to the next level, said Dr. Brendan Kinsella, assistant professor of piano at UTRGV.
UTRGV now boasts a groundbreaking music lab with 12 Clavinova CLP 535 pianos and one CVP 705 teacher’s unit, all tied together with the LC4 controller. Three Yamaha C6X Conservatory Collection Grand Pianos and 10 Clavinova P22 Upright Pianos are housed in performance halls, teaching studios and practice rooms throughout the UTRGV facilities.
“When I talk with friends who teach music in other parts of the country about what’s happening here at UTRGV, they can’t believe how quickly this has all come together. In other places, there’s a new building or new pianos or a new lab, but here, we have it all. That just doesn’t happen, where things coincide and everything is all ready to go at the same time,” Dr. Kinsella said.
When planning for the ambitious upgrades commenced about four years ago, Valley Keyboards, the local Yamaha dealer, already had a long relationship with the school. Representatives from Yamaha Institutional Solutions Group (ISG) met with the Dean, the chair of the Music Department, and with staff from the UT Development Department. “They did a complete assessment to determine what the school’s needs were and how Yamaha could help to fulfill them,” said Matt Perez, president and owner of Valley Keyboards and The Piano Gallery. “You don’t rush beautiful things. Yamaha is known as a leader in the music industry for its finely crafted instruments and its commitment – devotion, really – to excellence. They understand that good teaching begins with good instruments, and these pianos are dependable, built to last and the sound is always beautiful.”
The LC4 Clavinova lab provides UTRGV music educators with an intuitive, flexible way to teach music to a group of students — all at once, in smaller groups, or one-on-one — from any location in the room, all controlled wirelessly via an iPad®. And, with unprecedented iPad integration and exclusive Yamaha iOS apps, students and teachers may easily share music online, archive their own songs or favorites, browse custom performance settings from the Internet and download new songs directly from www.yamahamusicsoft.com into their Clavinova, all without having to connect any cables.
Expandable to accommodate classes as large as 48 students, the LC4 uses a network of headphones and microphones to make it seem as if each student is isolated in his or her own practice room, which is ideal for private practice or one-on-one instruction with the teacher. But with the touch of a button, the practice room “walls” can be instantly removed for group study, teacher-only broadcasts or “all together now” ensemble performances. Instructors even have a mute button that disables the students’ instruments when it’s time to pay attention.
By reproducing the playing experience and sound of the world-class Yamaha Concert Grand and Bösendorfer Imperial grand pianos, Clavinovas broaden students’ musical horizons. And, the new lab allows more students, even non-majors, to be involved in music at UTRGV.
“One of the great things is that music students’ skill development involves not just playing and better musicianship, which applies directly in the classroom lab situation, but student learning also cross-relates to theory classes,” said Dr. Kinsella. “We now have a waiting list of eager university students who are non-majors with piano as an elective or secondary major: in the first semester (Fall 2015) since UTRGV opened, 20 non-majors enrolled and we have six or seven more on a wait list. The lab serves music majors, but gives enjoyment and life enrichment in other students’ lives too.”
UTRGV’s three new Yamaha C6X Conservatory Collection Grand Pianos and 10 Clavinova P22 Upright Pianos provide students and faculty with a complete piano continuum of extraordinary performing and listening experiences. The C6X 7-foot grand piano represents the fulfillment of nearly half a century of Yamaha refinement of handcrafted piano traditions. And, the P22 upright studio piano was designed especially for schools and rehearsal areas. Looking to the future, these acoustic pianos will advance UTRGV’s plans for community events at the new Academic and Performing Arts Center, including concerts, music festivals and a summer music academy.
“These instruments and the LC4 lab really give us an opportunity to be the dominant music program in this part of Texas,” said Dr. Kinsella. “The teachers are quite pleased to have the new Yamaha acoustic pianos in their offices and practice studios because their students sound better when they play. This makes them more eager to practice, which is what every teacher wants.”
About University of Texas Rio Grande Valley
The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV) was established in 2013 and welcomed its first class of students in Fall 2015. With more than 100 academic programs from which to choose, campuses are located throughout the Valley. The UTRGV School of Music is led by nationally and internationally recognized professors, and students with demonstrated musical ability have the opportunity to perform in numerous ensembles, including Mariachi, symphony orchestra, chamber orchestra, band, choir and many others. Undergraduate degree programs in music are offered in performance and education (teacher certification), and the graduate program has three concentrations in music: music education, performance and ethnomusicology.