Pauls Valley Democrat
Every skill, whether it is used as a profession or hobby, requires a great degree of mentoring in order to have something to build on through practice.
For aspiring pianists in Pauls Valley and the surrounding region, one of the strongest examples where they could both show off what they learned and take it the next step further came once again in the form of National Piano-Playing Auditions this past weekend.
Chaired by local teacher Jane Hefley, it was another chance for students from here in town as well as some traveling as far away as Ardmore to renew their membership in the National Fraternity of Student Musicians, with benefits that can take them far beyond childhood years in a studio.
“It’s something that can benefit them, even in college,” said Hefley, who has been chair of the event since the 1990s, this year at the Presbyterian Church in town.
Increasing in difficulty depending on how long students have participated in the annual analysis, Hefley noted how it is often the best way students can see where they stand as well as how to improve on a particular piece they may be preparing in-between district and state competitions. Though many only memorize one music piece, they may prepare up to 20 and are also graded on scales, cadences and overall musicianship.
Hefley believes the environment encourages learning since it is always much calmer than if the students were performing at a recital or concert.
Those who participated and gained a year’s membership through the National Guild of Piano Teachers sponsored event also received a certificate, pin and those who have done it several years may seek the option of specializing in a favored composer or style for future events.
“It’s just like taking a lesson so it’s very relaxed,” said Hefley.
“That child that gets a bad case of jitters has something more personal… They want to encourage them to improve their studies.”
Helping to offer as much advice as possible and score students was Jean Shackleton of Oklahoma City, who shared experience that included being head of the piano department at Mid-America Christian University for a couple of decades as well as one year as an accompanist at Carnegie Hall. Hefley felt like she was a fine example of someone to for them to follow in the footsteps of, from seeing her perform and working with her in the past.
In the end, Hefley was very proud of her 11 students that participated, including Tina Brumley, Hulia Beddow, Corbin Davis, Jonah Davis, Mable Hu, Grayson Kuehny, Jia Tu, Laura Webb, Kinley Cozad and Melody Allee, who each performed 3-5 pieces. For those who want to shine and show off their hard work, it is one of the best opportunities to do so.
“It’s amazing how they spend months preparing a 16 measure piece and it’s over in three minutes,” said Hefley. “The guild believes in rewarding the students’ hard work.”