The National Guild of Piano Teachers will be auditioning students of Severino’s Piano Lessons PLUS for the 2010 – 2011 academic year. I thought it would be a good idea to give parents my experiences with the Piano Guild. I hope by the end of this article you will share my enthusiasm for making this decision.
The founder of the National Guild of Piano Teacher, Irl Allison, is also the originator of the very prestigious Van Cliburn International Piano Competition. The following is a quote from Handbook of Texas Online. You can find the complete article at http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/VV/xfv1.html
Allison had long supported excellence in piano playing—as a pianist, as a piano teacher, and especially as the founder of the National Guild of Piano Teachers. This organization sponsors the National Piano Playing Auditions, a program that brings professional musicians to cities and towns all over the country to judge the performance of students. The occasion for the founding of the Cliburn Foundation was Van Cliburn’s winning the Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow in 1958; victory in this contest is one of the most coveted and prestigious achievements to which a young pianist can aspire. When Cliburn won, he was widely hailed as a major cultural ambassador whose influence would help to nullify the Cold War.
I’ve been involved with the National Guild of Piano Teachers for many years. I established two audition centers for their organization in the 70’s and 80’s. I’ve also been one of their judges who has listened to students from audition centers all over the state of Pennsylvania.
I like the organization for many reasons but I think the biggest reason is that they have a complete understanding of the piano student, all piano students. Because of this understanding they’ve devised a system of auditions that can provide worthwhile goals for students of all ages, all ambitions, and all abilities.
THE NATIONAL FRATERNITY OF STUDENT MUSICIANS
All students who enter the auditions become a member of the National Fraternity of Student Musicians. Students decide on the level of membership they want to become in the fraternity. The levels are …..
LOCAL MEMBERSHIP – A student becomes a local member by successfully completing an audition of 2-3 memorized pieces.
DISTRICT MEMBERSHIP – A student becomes a district member by successfully completing an audition of 4-6 memorized pieces.
STATE MEMBERSHIP – A student becomes a state member by successfully completing an audition of 7-9 pieces.
NATIONAL MEMBERSHIP – A student becomes a national member by successfully completing an audition of 10-14 pieces.
INTERNATIONAL MEMBERSHIP – A student becomes an international member by successfully completing an audition of 15-20 pieces.
For students who have difficulty with memorizing pieces there is a Hobbyist Classification.
Students that do not identify with Classical music can enter the audition in a Jazz/Pop Classification. These auditions may or may not be memorized.
There is also a Social Music Classification for students learning a series of hymns, patriotic, folk, and popular songs.
Students even have the option of playing a complete Bach Program to receive a plaque featuring an image of J.S. Bach.
One of the nicest features is that of earning a High School Diploma for piano. Even though the work expected is very demanding; if completed, the student should be prepared for college level work and will be very well prepared for the level of work expected of a student in a music school.
The above only mentions the basics of the Piano Guild programs. As you can see there is something for all ages, all ambitions, and all abilities.
Another strong point about Guild Auditions is that the rating system is a complex system that compares strong points to weak points that makes comparisons between students difficult. Put into that complexity is a very insightful evaluation that can be very helpful to the student.
The judges chosen for the auditions are chosen with great care. Often they are college professors with a special interest in seeing students in their early years of study. They are often from out of town and they do not have a personal relationship with any of the teachers, let alone students. This makes the judges job much easier to be objective and straightforward. One of the main reasons I didn’t like our previous system of evaluations is that judges were pressured to be very lenient with their evaluations. I didn’t think the scores received represented my class fairly. This is not something that I felt occurred as a result of my students participating in Guild. Evaluations were fair and accurate but still were very encouraging.
Students are awarded each year with a handsome certificate and a fraternity pin. There are awards for excellence.
I find the National Guild of Piano Teachers and their audition program(s) to be an excellent supplement to piano study. I hope you will share my enthusiasm after our auditions next spring. More information will become available as necessary.