CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Kate Spackman and Emily Wheelwright are Utah natives and missionaries with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. As part of their mission, they give back to the community in any way they can. As both have played piano for many years, they decided to start offering free piano lessons to kids in the area.
“The majority of our time is focused on teaching people about God, right? But, we also do a lot of service in the community. We were just brainstorming what we could do to help out here in Corpus, and the idea came to us, we kind of have piano experience between the both of us,” Spackman said.
The two put a few messages in Facebook groups, and were only expecting a few responses. However, they received way more than they could've anticipated.
“I guess we just put it in the right group or something, I don’t know, but we got like 70 comments, a lot of people responded,” said Spackman. She offered the same service when she spent time in the Brownsville area, and only taught lessons to a handful of kids.
Despite each playing the piano, Wheelwright never taught any piano before starting this, while Spackman only had the little experience from Brownsville, so finding a good starting point for lessons was tough at first.
“I’ve never taught the piano, so I had no idea how to start. It was kind of terrifying at first, but the parents and kids are understanding,” Wheelwright said.
“I try to put myself in these kids’ shoes and think, ‘okay, what did I need to learn first?’ Kind of just knowing where to start. But once we started rolling, it got quite a bit easier to know, you could kind of see kid’s levels and what to teach them at first,” Spackman said.
Sharing the lessons between the two of them has been helpful, because it allows each of them to utilize their strengths.
“As a missionary, you’re taught to work together, so when we’re doing piano lessons, it helps, because I know she’s there,” Wheelwright said.
For Spackman, sharing her love and knowledge for the piano is rewarding.
“It’s awesome to be a part of it, and to help these kids out, and teach them something that I think will bless them the rest of their lives,” she said.
But for Wheelwright, the connection is much deeper; giving families who otherwise may not be able to afford piano lessons the chance for their children to learn.
“My mom when she was raising me, was a single mom, and she had five kids. It was a lot of work for her, because I wanted to do piano lessons, my brother wanted to do viola lessons, my sisters wanted to do gymnastics, my brother wanted to do soccer. It was a lot of things at once, and it was hard for her to be able to afford it all, being a single mom. For me, it’s cool to see people getting something that I really wanted as a kid,” she said.
The duo is focusing on Saturday mornings for piano lessons. To inquire about availability, reach out to Kate or Emily on Facebook; though with the volume of the responses they have received, spots are limited.