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Students of Laney Rountree’s music studio, from left, Lowell Irby, Abigail Blackwell and Olivia Torrez, pose with guild adjudicator Beverly Rhodes. (Courtesy Photo)

Rountree student Hannah Williams poses with guild adjudicator Beverly Rhodes. (Courtesy Photo)

Thirteen piano students from the studios of Laney Rountree and Kandi Branch performed April 22 in the National Piano­Playing Auditions, sponsored by the National Guild of Piano Teachers, Teacher Division of the American College of Musicians, which was founded in 1929 by Dr. Irl Allison.

The auditions were held at First Evangelical Presbyterian Church in Artesia with Beverly Rhodes of Las Cruces as adjudicator.

Each student was striving for Pledge (one piece), Local (two to three pieces), District (four to six pieces), State (seven to nine pieces), National (10­14 pieces) or International (15­20 pieces) honors.

All repertoire must be memorized and played in its entirety. Each student must be able to play the scale and cadence/chord for each piece programmed. Musicianship phases, such as transposition and sight­reading, may be added to the program as separate pieces.

The adjudicator evaluates each student’s performance based on their presentation of baroque, classical, romantic and contemporary works and critiques them on a report card.

More than 100,000 enthusiastic piano students participate annually in these auditions, which are held in more than 880 music centers worldwide. Each entrant is given a bronze, silver or gold embossed pin, a report card, and a year’s membership in the National Fraternity of Student

Faith Houghtaling, left, and Lauren Combs from the studio of Kandi Branch pose with guild adjudicator Beverly Rhodes. (Courtesy Photo)

Musicians. Students entering a National or International program for five or more years also receive a composer pin.

Students of Rountree’s studio participating in the auditions included:

• Abigail Blackwell, daughter of Arlas and Michael Blackwell; seventh audition, fifth National program; gold pin and composer pin.

• Lowell Irby, son of Susan and Eugene Irby; 10th audition, 10th National program; gold pin, composer pin and Paderewski Medal for 10 years of National programs.

• Olivia Torrez, daughter of Rebecca and Antonio Torrez; eighth audition, eighth National program; gold pin and composer pin.

• Hannah Williams, daughter of Laura and Mark Williams; second audition, first National program; gold pin.

Branch’s students Paul Miller, left, and Madeleine Sterling pose for a photo after competing in the Mary Alice Knox Piano Competition in Midland. (Courtesy Photo)

Students of Branch’s studio participating in the auditions included:

• Braden Fuentes, son of Angie and Ben Fuentes; National program.

• Faith Houghtaling, daughter of Pam and Joby Houghtaling; National program.

• Madeleine Sterling, daughter of Linda and John Sterling; National program; composer pin.

• Lauren Combs, daughter of Kimberly and Christopher Combs; District program.

• Sunny Mann, daughter of Gaelyn and Cliff Mann; District program.

• Paul Miller, son of Robin and Joel Miller; District program.

• Chloe Yates, daughter of Edana and Otis Yates; District program.

• Tessa Yates, daughter of Edana and Otis Yates; District program.

• Macy Yates, daughter of Edana and Otis Yates; Local program.

Rountree and Branch also had two students apiece compete

Students from Rountree’s studio participating in the Knox Competition were Olivia Torrez, left, and Abigail Blackwell. (Courtesy Photo)

in the Mary Alice Knox Piano Competition March 4 in Midland, Texas. That competition featured students from Artesia, Roswell, Hobbs, Midland and Odessa.

From Rountree’s studio, Abigail Williams performed “Menuet en Rondeau” by Rameau and received a second­-place medal, and Olivia Torrez performed “Magnolias in the Meadow” by Mier and received a third­-place medal.

From Branch’s studio, Madeleine Sterling won a first­-place medal and Paul Miller a third­-place medal.

Students compete at their school grade level rather than their piano­-playing level. The purpose of the competition is to encourage interest in musical competition and a desire to strive for performance excellence. More than 250 students participate.