Beethoven, Chopin, Bach — they were all on the list, but it wasn’t their talent that Saturday’s competition was about. It was for the talent of 66 Grayson County kindergarten through 12th graders that family, friends and volunteers came to the Denison Performing Arts’ 30th Annual Regional Piano Competition.
“This is an opportunity for students taking private piano lessons to evaluate how they’re doing, not only against themselves, but also to be able to hear other students perform,” said Competition Co-Chair Donna Batey. “When you’re taking private lessons, you tend to fell isolated, like, ‘I’m the only one who’s doing this.’ … And by having this venue and the awards ceremony, they can hear their peers perform, and it’s also encouraging for them to continue on.”
Tom Bean fifth grader Lindsey Garner, who competed Saturday, said she began playing piano just seven months ago after a friend recommended. “I just wanted to, and I started really liking it,” Lindsey said.
The friend has since stopped lessons, but that hasn’t slowed Lindsey, her parents said.
“She just had interest in it, and so we started lessons and she loved it,” said Lindsey’s mother Amanda Garner. “She’s more dedicated to this than anything else she’s done. We could just tell she had a big interest.”
Mike Garner, Lindsey’s father, said he wishes he had the opportunity to learn a musical instrument growing up. “I thought it would be nice, if she was interested at all, to encourage her and see how it turned out,” he said.
Batey said musical skills in children can help lead them to success in other areas. “You’ve heard the phrase, ‘they march to a different beat.’ Musicians, their brains actually develop differently, particularly when you start a child at a young age,” she said. “They have more cognitive skills. They’re better in school. They’re better at math. They’re better at science. Their reasoning skills are better. It just makes for a better rounded individual.”
Debra Daugherty, whose daughter Katie Daugherty competed Saturday, attributed her daughter’s success in school, in part, to her seven years of music lessons. Daugherty said Katie, a seventh grader at B. McDaniel Middle School in Denison, has out-paced many of her many of her classmates and is already taking Pre-AP classes.
“Home schooling and her music are probably what got her here,” Daugherty said.
Katie said she enjoys her time at the piano. “”I like the different pieces I get to play and how it gets harder over time.” She said when she perfects a new piece, “it’s really exciting.”
Contest organizers gave awards to contestants in six age categories.
In kindergarten through second grade: Autumn Kim won first; Leif Inocian, second; and Liam Troncalli, third.
In third and fourth grades: Anna Yost won first; Klara Wojciechowska, second; and Kirstin Astle, third.
In fifth and sixth grades: Stephanie Zhou won first; Jennifer Graves, second; and Justin Davis, third.
In seventh and eighth grades: Will Lacy won first; and Jared Ackley, second.
In ninth and tenth grades: Natalia Wojciechowska won first; and Ashley Hicks, second.
In 11th and 12th grades: Christian Soltero won first and Jessica Ackley, second.