Central Receives Grants to Expand Piano Lab and Add Music Library


Katheron Latham

CENTRAL RECEIVES GRANT TO EXPAND PIANO LAB AND ADD MUSIC LIBRARY — The new Central High School piano lab now contains 20 student pianos and one teacher piano.

Mackenzie Farner, Staff Writer

The Central High School piano lab has received some very exciting new additions that grow the already impressive piano lab.

In September 2020, Katheron Latham, who teaches the piano lab and teaches the chorus classes here at Central, was contacted by the Community Foundation of Chattanooga who wanted to make a generous donation to the already impressive piano lab. With the donation made by the Community Federation of Chattanooga the school was able to purchase four brand new pianos, a rolling white board, shelves, educational posters, and other teaching supplies for the lab. After the previous supplies and the supplies purchased with the help of the donation, the lab contains $45,000 of supplies to aid in teaching students piano.

Before the donation the lab contained sixteen student pianos and with the addition of the four purchased with the donation, there are now twenty student pianos in the lab. These exciting new additions also mean that the lab can now support twenty students at once.

“This now allows the class to have a total of 20 students in each class period. We are looking forward to seeing the piano program at Central grow to include more students with this enlargement of the lab,” commented Latham about the expansion of the lab.

A unique feature about the lab is that each piano is connected through a system to Mrs.Latham’s teaching piano. They all come equipped with headphones that allow students to hear their work and/or Latham’s instruction at the teaching piano. At the teaching piano Latham can select individual pianos to listen to so she can listen to what her students are practicing.

Before room G-210 was the piano lab it previously held digital arts, science, math, and construction classes. In the summer of 2020 Latham and her family spent part of the

CENTRAL RECEIVES GRANT TO EXPAND PIANO LAB AND ADD MUSIC LIBRARY — A plaque hangs in the piano lab to honor all who made donations. (Katheron Latham)

summer revamping the room. Before the remodel, the room had whiteboards and chalkboards lining the walls from previous classes. During the remodel, they unscrewed the whiteboards from the walls and pulled other whiteboards that were stuck with construction glue off of the walls, and after using a grinder to get the construction glue off the walls they added a fresh coat of paint and then began filling the room with supplies.

There were no funds allotted by the school or county for the piano lab.  Instead, Latham worked diligently to seek out donors and to apply for grants to raise money for the lab. Therefore, only a small amount of the fine arts budget was given to the piano lab, while the rest relied on community donations. Through applying for many grants she received a Junior League Mini Grant for the expansion of the lab.

“I applied for and was granted a Junior League Mini-Grant this school year as well. I was able to purchase a number of piano books covering multiple music genres, including current popular hits, jazz, sacred, and classical music.  These books have provided a huge variety of music for the piano students to use as supplementary material to the usual piano curriculum,” replied Latham when asked about the Junior League Mini Grant.

The piano lab was started as a way to allow students to learn and study piano during the school day and earn a fine arts credit. No experience is required to join the piano classes and everyone is welcome. There are only two other schools in the district with a piano lab: the Chattanooga Center of Creative Arts and East Hamilton High School.

The piano lab adds a unique opportunity to Central students that many others don’t have access to. It’s an interesting and unique way for students to earn their fine arts credit. The curation of the lab could not have been accomplished without the diligent work put in by Latham to design the lab and make it as beneficial for students as possible.

CENTRAL RECEIVES GRANT TO EXPAND PIANO LAB AND ADD MUSIC LIBRARY — The piano lab now holds many different genres and levels of music for students to learn from. (Katheron Latham)