New instrument improving learning at local middle school


SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) – At the beginning of every school year, the Education Foundation awards grants to teachers who use them to improve their students’ education. One KELOLAND middle school is using theirs to help kids change their tune.

The percussion students at Memorial Middle School are making a lot of noise… or noises, with the latest addition to their musical arsenal.

Sixth-graders Nora Weaver and Chayley Dykstra are beating to their own drum and guitar and even helicopter.

“Like, we’ve got what? The vacuum cleaner… I think we’re working on some fart noises,” Weaver said.

Despite that last comment, Memorial Middle School’s new electronic mallet stations do everything but stink.

“It’s super cool because you can make an infinite amount of noises,” Weaver said.

With this instrument, they can add a variety of sounds to the band: From harps, to synth.

“We don’t have to buy all of these super expensive instruments. We can just download them onto the mallet station and then maybe delete it when we don’t need it anymore,” Weaver said.

They are one of the first schools in the country to have these in class.

“It’s not as intuitive as just treading it like you’re playing it on a piano. So, they have to really think about the patterns and the notes that they’re playing in order to be successful while they’re playing,” Band Teacher John Laughlin said.

It connects to a laptop, and by using a software called Digital Audio Workstation, they can use it to track their progress.

“They’ve been learning scales, working them on Marimba, Xylophone, now they’re going to record those scales into the mallet station program and will keep a digital portfolio about how they’ve been improving on those scales throughout the year,” Laughlin said.

With endless amounts of sounds come endless growth and possibilities.

“This is a great way to A. give them the boost that they need and maybe the excuse to work on their scales and to have a cool product at the end where they can look back,” Laughlin said.

There is another set of two mallet stations at Patrick Henry Middle School. If you’d like to to learn more about the mallet station you can visit their manufacturer’s website.

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