Ryan Solano calmly sits down and begins stroking the ivory keys. Within seconds, the 10-year-old has a small audience captivated as he pounds out complex jazz notes.

The most captivated, but least amazed, is Harriett Young, Ryan’s instructor.

“He doesn’t make mistakes; he just doesn’t,” says Young, who teaches both Ryan and his sister, Ashley.

“He plays with expression unusual for a kid his age.”

Ryan and Ashley Solano are two of Young’s most dedicated students. Ryan has been taking lessons from Young for three years, while seven-year-old Ashley has taken for two years. Both have received numerous awards at piano recitals and even played for Channel 4’s cameras.

Aside from the Solano siblings, Young teaches 45 other students, three-fourths of whom are between the ages of five and 17.

Young trains her award-winning young charges by employing a teaching method quite different from the traditional piano lessons popular with most piano instructors. She teaches jazz piano, which involves showing her pupils 12 basic chords learned by ear.

As a pupil masters the chords, he or she is able to improvise during a piece, allowing the pupil a certain freedom that only jazz permits.

“They’re learning rhythm, timing and a feel for where notes are on the keyboard,” says Young, who recently wrote a book about her teaching methods.

Young runs the Lakewood Piano Studio from her Hollywood Heights home. The studio is equipped with an electronic keyboard, a piano and state-of-the-art computer equipment. While many of Young’s students are neighborhood residents, others commute from the far reaches of the Metroplex.

“She’s so dedicated and so involved,” says Bonita Solano, Ryan and Ashley’s mother. “She takes it personally and can get the best out of each child.”

For information, call Young at 214-327-7377.


Library Activities: The Skillman Southwestern Branch of the Dallas Public Library, 5707 Skillman at Southwestern, offers preschool storytime Aug. 12 & 19 at 10:40 a.m., 11:15 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. Toddler time is scheduled Aug. 12 at 10 a.m. Regular preschool storytime and toddler time resumes in September. During August, a collection of panda bears will be exhibited in the lobby display case. For information, call 214-670-6078.

Winnie-the-Pooh Party: The 5th Annual Winnie-the-Pooh birthday celebration will be held Aug. 9 at Enchanted Forest, 6333 E. Mockingbird. The party includes balloons, a birthday cake, readings from “Pooh Stuck in Rabbit’s House,” and a chance to meet Pooh. Readings are scheduled for 11 a.m., 11:30 a.m., noon and 12:30 p.m. Each reading lasts four minutes and is followed by a “meet the Pooh” time. The event is free, and no RSVP is required. A private birthday for Pooh will be held Aug. 10 at 3 p.m. at the Dallas Horticulture Center at Fair Park. Tickets are $25 for each person over the age of two. The party is limited to 375 guests, and the event is always a sellout. There will be food and entertainment. For information, call 214-827-2234.


Dino-Mania: The Dallas Museum of Natural History presents “Dino-Mania” Aug. 4-7 for children in the second and third grades. The presentation includes a time line of dinosaurs from their beginning to end and runs 9:30 a.m.-3 p.m. For information, call 214-421-DINO, ext. 202.


White Rock/Lake Highlands YMCA: The White Rock/Lake Highlands YMCA, 11221 Lochwood, offers several after-school programs for children that begin next month. After-school classes include karate, volleyball, tumbling, flag football and indoor soccer. “Sharp Kids,” an after-school program for children ages kindergarten to sixth-grade, is available Monday through Friday from 3-6 p.m. Participants of the program are picked up from Lake Highlands elementaries and transported to YMCA sites for supervision along with activities and games. The Indian Guide/Princess and Trailblazers Program will begin recruiting participants on Aug. 21, 26, and 28. This program focuses on developing father/child relationships and exploring the outdoors. The Indian programs are organized for children in Kindergarten through second-grade and the Trailblazer programs are designated for third-sixth grades. Fees vary for each program. For information, call 214-328-4621.

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