Piano festival brings students together

Utah Valley University hosts a sight reading class for Chinese children who travelled from China on the 5th floor of the GT building in 511g on August 15th, 2018. ChangYu Wang plays a solo for his class from a new song they were learning.

An 8-year-old girl wearing oversized headphones stretches the fingers of her left hand across the keys of a Kawai piano and begins to play the F-minor scale during the first annual American Mountain West International Piano Festival.

Hilary Demske, assistant professor of music/piano and creator of the festival, stands at the front of the class and snaps her fingers to guide the scale’s tempo.

Demske created the event to bring young students from around the world together to improve their piano skills and meet other pianists.

“The purpose of the festival is to foster the pianist community, provide instruction and engage in some healthy competition,” Demske said.

The students ranged in age from 5 to 18 with 15 elementary-aged children from China participating in the festival as part of their winnings from a competition held in China.
According to Demske, each culture learns music differently, so the interaction between the students was a key part of the learning process.

“I hope students find this to be an enriching musical experience while learning advanced techniques from advanced teachers,” Demske said.

The festival ran from Aug. 13 to Aug. 16 and featured classes such as sight reading, duet and choir. Students were encouraged to compete with each other and could choose to compete in either the solo division or the concerto division.

During the last two days, students performed at various places —including Temple Square—with the final recital held at UVU.

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