Young piano students share talent with KSU

Steve Bushong

Jerry Wong, assistant music professor, instructs students in the Carol A. Cartwright Auditorium during the School of Music’s piano institute. The 10-day program teaches students about all aspects of music. MICHELE ROEHRIG | SUMMER KENT STATER

Credit: Steve Schirra

     The big question among 14 gifted piano students Tuesday morning was, “What’s a movement class?”

The students, who assembled at Kent State Sunday, came for an intensive 10-day lesson in piano and musicianship – not dance.

But that’s what they were asked to do.

Piano faculty Jerry Wong and Donna Lee developed the Hugh A. Glauser School of Music’s first annual Piano Institute in hopes that the students will leave with lasting musical inspiration.

Wong said the movement class is designed to get students “in touch with their bodies” and associate music with movement.

“We want to expose the students to all aspects of music, not just piano,” Lee said.

Another objective for Wong and Lee is to renew the work ethic of the students and help them achieve their full piano-playing potential.

Not that the students involved lack work ethic.

For being in grades 7 through 12, the students are very self-motivated, Wong said.

Megan Beus, 17, started playing piano when she was four. Her mom taught her to read music.

Sofia Hernandez, a 16-year-old from Puerto Rico, said she likes all the time she’ll get to practice. That’s four hours a day, every day, on top of group lessons, private instruction and musicianship classes.

Wong said the students spend a lot of time alone playing piano, and the institute is a good way for students to share interests with their like-minded peers.

The students are bunking in Beall Hall, eating meals on campus and enjoying nightly activities together.

On Tuesday, the group visited Porthouse Theatre for a performance of “Our Town.” Friday, they’ll see the Cleveland Orchestra at Blossom.

Two events, however, top most of the students’ activities lists.

“The concert at the end, or ice-skating,” 17-year-old Patsy Gillespie said.

The final concert is a performance by the students at Severance Hall in Cleveland July 18. Each student will perform one of three pieces they have prepared for the institute. Lee and Wong will pick which of the three pieces best fits into the show.

Funding for the Piano Institute comes from the Ohio Federation of Music Clubs a scholarship from the Blossom Women’s Committee and an anonymous donor.

Contact general assignment reporter Steve Bushong at [email protected].