Fourteen Tri-City student musicians got some advanced training recently when an examiner with the Royal Conservatory Carnegie Hall Achievement Program came to town for special testing meant to advance their skills.
This is the first time the Carnegie organization has brought its program to the Tri-Cities, and Richland piano teacher Ben Fowler says it won't be the last.
"This program gives kids a tangible goal to further their musical talents," he said. "I'm hoping this can happen every year."
The program has nothing to do with competition and everything to do with musical growth, he added.
The Carnegie achievement program was created in 1891 with the intent to inspire budding musicians with the desire to aspire. It covers all instruments, including voice, harp and accordion. All instruments have 10 levels of examinations and once completed, the student receives a diploma from the Royal Conservatory of Canada.
The cost to take part in the program ranges from $76 to $200, depending on students' levels, Fowler said.
The examination covers repertoire, technical studies and musicianship, as well as ear training and sight reading skills.
"Each student gets feedback on their skill level, which is important to not only their advancement but to their teacher's as well," Fowler said. "Sometimes you can get a new student who says they have five years experience on the piano. But in actuality their skill does not meet the standard. With the Carnegie program, their skill level is accurate and looks much better on a resume."
Joseph Berarducci was the professional adjudicator who tested each of the 14 Tri-City students May 19 at Shalom United Church of Christ in Richland.
"It was fun to watch students come in looking apprehensive, trying so hard to concentrate and then every student as they left the exam room had a big smile on their face feeling the culmination of hard work paying off," Fowler said. "They prepared well, played well and it showed on their faces."
Berarducci gave each student undivided attention without any harshness to his testing style, Fowler added.
The Carnegie program is based out of the Royal Conservatory in Canada and only recently became available in the U.S., joining forces with New York City's Carnegie Hall Educational Outreach program, Fowler said.
Six students of Kennewick piano teacher Julianne Barnaby took the testing along with seven of Fowler's piano students and one of Jennifer Robertson's piano students.
The program isn't just for students. It also gives music teachers a broader sense of how effective their teaching styles are and how they can improve their own effectiveness in fostering students to excel, Fowler said.
More information about the conservatory can be found online at theachievementprogram.org, or by contacting Fowler at 509-440-1711 or firstname.lastname@example.org.