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February 2020 Recital

Community Music DivisionPiano Guild

Norfolk (ODU) Center National Piano Guild Auditions

The National Piano Guild Auditions, Norfolk ODU Center, are tentatively scheduled for June 6-10, 2024, in Choral Room 1201 from 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.. This is the 19th consecutive year that ODU has sponsored its own center, including virtual auditions held by the ODU Community Music Division during the pandemic.

The guild was started in Austin, TX in 1929 by founder Irl Allison and is one of the largest non-profit organizations of piano teachers and students in the world. Its objectives are to provide a yearly goal and evaluation for both students and teachers in a positive, non-competitive environment. Students of all ages, backgrounds, and abilities may play from 2-15 memorized pieces from memory or may use the music in a category called "Hobbyist." Scales and cadences of the keys of all pieces are required. Auditions are private with only the judge and student present. Students receive a certificate with their name hand-written in calligraphy, a pin, and a detailed evaluation.

Teachers must be a member of the guild for students to participate. Entry fees are collected by the teachers and sent to headquarters in March.

2023 Piano Guild

At ODU, Developing Pianists Show Off Skills for National Exam

Piano students from across Hampton Roads flexed musical muscles last week as Old Dominion University's Diehn Center for the Performing Arts hosted the National Piano Guild Auditions.

Not all the students were children.

"I was a little nervous at the beginning, but then I settled down after a couple of pieces," said adult pupil Walter Bell of Portsmouth. He performed works by Bach, Debussy, Haydn, and Beethoven.

"He played beautifully," said his teacher, Sally Copeland, director of ODU Community Music Division.

It was the 18th year that the local portion of this national exam took place at ODU. The university's Community Music Division organized the set of auditions, which were judged by an expert from North Carolina.

Stephen Henzel, 13, of Norfolk, displayed evidence of his keyboard skill on his lapels. They were weighed down with pins earned at auditions over the years.

"I just like getting feedback on the pieces — what was well done and what could be improved," he said. What's his method for battling nerves? "Suck it up and get it done with." He also practices a lot, too, his teacher added.

Stephen's sister, Clare, doubled up on auditions, playing for judge Sue Lindsley Aceves on consecutive days. "It was really fun," she said. "I liked the variety of the programs."

Portsmouth sisters Lydia Riley, 12, and Elizabeth, 9, both auditioned.

"They just really like playing piano," said the girls' mother, Stephanie Riley. "It's really nice."

The auditions coincided with ODU's annual piano sale, which operates through a partnership with the Rockley Family Foundation, a non-profit dedicated to supporting music education.

Chris Syllaba, president of Jordan Kitt's Music, said he connected the university with the foundation. Through the connection, ODU gets loaner instruments for students and the community gets access to quality instruments.

The partnership has been successful, said Nancy Klein, director of the university's F. Ludwig Diehn School of Music.

"Now, this can be a tax write-off for people who purchase, because you are supporting the Rockley Foundation when you buy a piano," Klein said.

"This way, we keep the joy of playing the piano alive in the community while supporting our students at ODU, and also supporting the Rockley Foundation."

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