What to do when your child wants MORE out of piano

So your child is going to lessons every week, practicing consistently at home, and generally making good progress at the piano…. but it’s just not quite enough of a challenge. You think he could be doing more at the piano, and so does he. Well, there may be more opportunities out there than you realized!

In Utah Valley, different piano teaching organizations host several festivals and competitions over the course of each year for all ages, designed to challenge students and provide them with evaluation, specific feedback, and performance opportunities beyond just studio recitals and group classes. These events can be HUGE confidence boosters for piano students and will really push them to achieve more than they thought possible!

If this is starting to sound like something you’re interested in, then it’s time to check out….


While all of our Piano Academy students receive weekly private and group instruction in several areas, the Honors Division is designed for those students who love music, love performing, and just can’t learn enough piano! Honors students are nominated each summer by their Piano Academy teachers based on qualities of hard work, persistence, enthusiasm, and integrity. These students receive additional repertoire training and mentoring in other areas as they prepare for evaluations and competitions. Last year all of our students who participated in these events received “Superior” ratings (the highest possible out of five) and two were invited to play in Honors recitals!

Here’s a quick breakdown of the events that our Piano Academy students can enter, along with tentative dates:

MTNA Performance Evaluations (Mid-October)

  • open to all ages and levels for solo and duo entries
  • students may play one or two pieces with a time limit depending on age
  • top performers in each category are invited to play at the annual UMTA (Utah Music Teacher’s Association) conference

Junior Festival – Ensemble (November 11-12, 18-19 2016)

  • Open to all students under 19
  • Evaluation-style where students play and are given a rating
  • Duet (one piano-four hands) and duo (two pianos-four hands) are both acceptable
  • Siblings may compete together, but division is determined by the more advanced player

Junior Festival – Solo (Late February-Early March 2017)

  • available to all students under 19
  • Evaluation-style where students play and are given a rating
  • requires two memorized solos in different styles – one choice, one required from the NFMC bulletin
  • Students who qualify may audition for and play in an Honors recital with cash prize
  • Students can also enter the Hymn Festival or American Patriotic and Folk Song Festival

Encore Festival (Jr. Festival February 3-4 2017; Sr. Festival February 24-25 2017)

  • divided into Junior and Senior divisions by age (two different weekends)
  • evaluation-style, where students who qualify are invited to perform in an Honors recital
  • requires memorized solos with a time limit

AIM (Mid-Late March 2017 or July for summer testing)

  • administered by the local MTNA chapter
  • evaluation-style, where students who score over 70% receive a medal
  • students are evaluated according to their level (1-10 according to AIM)
  • students can choose from different “clusters” of evaluation, including performance, theory, ear training, sight reading, and technique
  • requires memorized solos in contrasting styles; number of solos depends on level

UVU Rebecca Marriott Competition (Late March 2017)

  • students can participate in evaluations or in competition against other students
  • students are divided into 3 groups by age
  • can play one or two pieces within a given time limit

United States International Duo Piano Competition (Finals January 6-8 2017)

  • competition for duo piano open to all ages
  • held at the Broadmoor Hotel in Colorado Springs, CO
  • participants submit a CD recording; selected duos are invited to perform at the finals round

We’ll be sending out this year’s Honors Division nominations next week, but parents can request an Honors evaluation at any time. If you think the Honors division is right for your family, let us know! Call 385-219-0774 or email [email protected] to talk to our program coordinator about options. We’re so excited to kick off the 2016-17 performance season!