Piano lessons strike a chord at the Y

YMCA branches are staples for offering family-friendly physical activities such as basketball, gymnastics and swimming.

But the YMCA Foothills Crescenta-Cañada branch is offering something different — piano lessons.

The classes, which are open to Y members only, attract youth mostly, but the invitation extends to adults as well.

Charles Neuschwanger, a Thousand Oaks resident, has been teaching the classes since the program's inception in 1998. A graduate from the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston, he's taught piano since the 1970s.

Lessons are taught from 3 to 8 p.m. three days a week in the chapel at the YMCA, located at 1930 Foothill Blvd. They sometimes attract an audience, too, Neuschwanger said.

"Some people think the Y is only a place to work out or swim," he said. "[But] it has offerings for people with different interests to grow emotionally and physically."

Teaching piano at the facility started when Neuschwanger visited the Y with his wife more than a decade ago. He noticed a visual-art exhibit throughout the facility. Then he learned the Y had an unused piano.

Neuschwanger's teaching is rooted in classical music. Some students have been under his instruction for years, while others take a few lessons to perfect one musical piece.

"I want to give each student what they're looking for, what will benefit them the most," he said. "The approach with each student is unique."

Sessions are offered in 30-minute, 45-minute and one-hour blocks and range from $30 to $60.

Thom Martin, director of youth development for YMCA of the Foothills, said the piano lessons continue to pull in a steady stream of youth after more than a decade.

"Anything with youth and arts is an important piece of development, nurturing their potential," Martin said. "We want to make sure they get to explore the arts."

Overall, Neuschwanger wants his students to have a better appreciation of music.

"I want to help them have this experience in the most positive way, based on where they are in life and what's interesting to them," Neuschwanger said.

For more information about the lessons and how to sign up, email ccypl@me.com.

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