Kendra Johnson, Arts Editor
The Oklahoma Baptist University Division of Music hosted its 10th Keyboard Academy Nov. 9-10.
Keyboard Academy is an annual event where the faculty and students of the keyboard study program at OBU hold a free, two-day workshop for high school students interested in studying keyboard music.
Guest artists are brought in to perform Thursday night and then hold a master class with the college students and visiting high school students on Friday. This year, the guest artists were Alan and Alvin Chow.
“We’ve had Van Cliburn finalists, we’ve had international pianist – these two are both internationally recognized,” Dr. Michael Dean, associate professor of music at Oklahoma Baptist University, said.
Both Alan and Alvin Chow graduated from Julliard School and were awarded the Victor Herbert Prize in Piano, and hold numerous other international music awards. Alan has received First Prize Winner at the Concert Guild International New York Competition. Alvin has won prizes at competitions including the New York Piano Teachers Congress International Piano Competition.
“It’s not limited to any certain number of people but this year we [had] sixteen high school pianists in grades 9-12 come in,” Dean said.
Keyboard Academy was started in 2008 by Dr. Carol Bell.
“The voice area had done something similar before that and we thought it was going really well for them and we should try it,” Dean said. “And it’s really great because it gives us a chance to foster the relationships with the pianists in the state, with the teachers and the students. And since it’s ninth through 12th, we’ve had some people who were here as ninth graders, tenth graders, 11th graders, 12th graders and then they decide maybe they want to come here for school. So that works out really well. So, it’s a recruiting thing, but it’s more than that. It’s a way to put feelers in the state and to get some fabulous guest artists on campus.”
The high school students stayed overnight in the dorms on Thursday night, with student hosts, which allowed them the opportunity to get to know what it might be like to be a music student on campus. It also allowed prospective students to get to know their future classmates.
Junior piano performance major Rachel Foote, hosted a keyboard academy guest for the third time this year.
“I like to get to talk to the students and see, I guess, what their interest is in piano,” Foote said. “I came to keyboard academy my senior year of high school. And I really enjoyed getting to spend time with students here. The girl I stayed with was a junior and it was really neat to being able to see what it was like being a piano major and then really neat being able be a student with her here the next year. My freshman year I actually hosted someone who ended up becoming one of my best friends. She’s a sophomore this year and we’re really close, so it was really neat to be able to build the relationship before she actually came here.”
Foot said she enjoyed the opportunity to share with the visiting high schoolers.
“It’s just fun to get to take them around and show them what it’s like,” Foote said.