Student Opportunities with lessons: Students may participate in the following opportunities at my studio: a yearly recital, the Association of Professional Piano Instructors’ Festival, the National Guild Auditions, MMTA theory testing, and the MMTA yearly competition. Other opportunities may be offered as well, including opportunities for performance, positive and constructive criticism, and competition, depending on the needs of each student. The only mandatory event is the recital. Students are also encouraged to share their music with friends, relatives, and at other venues such as nursing homes, hospitals, etc.
The Recital is the only mandatory event each year. The MCA recitals are held in early March on a Thursday evening at Living Word Christian Center in Brooklyn Park. The North Branch recital is held at the Kost church in mid-March or April. For the recital, students typically play two pieces, or one longer piece, and memorization is encouraged, though not required. Family and friends are encouraged to attend.
The APPI (Association of Professional Piano Instructors) Festival is held in Golden Valley on a Saturday in mid-April. Students are assigned an 8-minute time slot during the day in which to play one or two pieces in front of a judge, who writes positive and constructive comments about the piece(s.) Students who participate will receive a ribbon along with the judge’s comments. The cost of the event is a non-refundable $15.00 entry fee, and parents are responsible for transportation to and from the event. This is a good way to get outside feedback from other area piano instructors on pieces and to have a positive performing opportunity. This is a wonderful event for all ages, even the first-year student. Students of all ages and abilities are encouraged to participate!
National Guild Auditions (Mid-May): This is a great event for the more serious student. National Guild Auditions are be held in Stillwater in mid to late May. This is not a competition, but it is an opportunity for the students to play for a judge for both comments and a rating. Students who participate may play anywhere from 1-10 pieces memorized as well as scales and cadences that go along with each piece they are playing. (Most students new to the event pick out 2-3 pieces and add more pieces each year.) This event takes place on a “school day” in mid-May so parents are responsible for transportation to and from the event, and judging times are determined after we register. I recommend that students be past the primer level of books before they participate. The cost of the event is around $35.00 (non-refundable.) Students who perform receive a certificate “report card” with comments, a rating, and a pin for their bag or letter jacket. This event takes place in every state and has been running since 1929, so participation in it looks great on college scholarship applications in future years, and helps students set personal goals for each year of lessons. This is a great event for the serious student!
MMTA (Minnesota Music Teacher's Association) Competition: MMTA sponsors State Contest Preliminaries in late January at Bethel University in Arden Hills. If students are selected from the preliminary auditions, they would move on to the finals competition at the University of Minnesota in mid-March. Contestants must be students of MMTA members and must choose selections from the current contest list. Competition categories include piano, voice, organ, strings, and woodwinds. There are eight age divisions in which piano students may compete, ranging from the Pre-Primary division (7 years and younger) through Senior B (19-20). The student is assigned their category based on age, not ability level. Each student would choose one piece from their age appropriate category that has about 10-12 pieces from which they may select. Each round of competition costs $20.00.
Over 5000 students enter the State Piano Contest annually. Pianists with the highest grades in the contest finals are selected for ensemble performance in the State Honors Concert in May. This concert has grown into a gala event involving 700 young performers playing on 20 grand pianos in ensemble groups.
Students ages 13 and over must pass a one-time theory one exam before they are eligible to compete. The theory test will be held in November at Bethel University in St. Paul, and costs around $21.00.