Fort Hood youth are expanding their creative and motor skills at Montague Youth Center by learning how to play the piano through SKIES Unlimited.

Instructor Jordan Serbantez, who is the elementary music teacher at Hay Branch elementary, enjoys watching the students learn and grow through playing the piano.

“It works on their fine and gross motor skills, with their hands. Especially nowadays, I think they just hold pencils and crayons and video game things or tablets. Their thumbs get a good workout, but this is good for all of their fingers, which we know is good for the brain,” Serbantez said.

By using different playing patterns and repetition, the class allows kids to have fun while also giving their brain a workout.

“We see all of the patterns so when they can just see that and when they see and hear and feel those patterns with their fingers and their ears, then it just helps their brain do the regular reading and math stuff a lot better, because their brains are ready to go,” she explained.

Serbantez has been an elementary music teacher for ten years and has taught different instruments to kids, including clarinet. She makes a point of figuring out the learning style and needs of each of her students so they can reach their full potential.

“When I taught clarinet lessons, I had 75 kids a week from grades 6th through 12th and they were all different levels of clarinet ability and I have to be at their level for that student,” she said. “It’s always something for me to keep me on my toes to make me be better so they can be their best.”

To Serbantez, learning to play the piano, for kids, is like eating their vegetables. There are several benefits, though we may not see them immediately, and piano lessons are much more entertaining than eating certain green colored foods.

“I think knowing that through their piano lessons, they’re getting so much good stuff. It’s like eating your broccoli, but it’s so much more fun than that. There’s so many benefits to it that we may not realize, long term or short term, and it’s way more fun.”

One of Serbantez’s students, 7-year-old Ali Demello, enjoys coming to her weekly piano lesson and seeing what new sounds can be made.

When asked what her favorite part about piano lessons was Demello replied, “To hear all of the noise and the different sounds that you’ve never heard before.”

Serbantez finds it rewarding to be able to work with the youth at Fort Hood. She likes being a consistent part of their lives, even if it’s for a short time and sharing music with them.

“They move around so much and if I can be something that they have that is stable for a little bit while they are here, then that’s good for them to have that routine. My husband is a percussionist in the 1st Cav. Band at Fort Hood, so music education for both of us is just very important. It was always something we had for that stability. I’m glad I can give back to the military kids because I have my school kids, then I have the Fort Hood kids too.”

Classes are offered every Tuesday and Saturday in Montague Youth Center. The cost is $65 for 30 minutes once a week, four times a month. For more information on class times, call 254-287-4592.