Sponsored By
An organization or individual has paid for the creation of this work but did not approve or review it.



Playing partners: Festival allows students to try something new

Nikkie Reza and Bailey Haseltine graduated from boot camp Sunday. Sort of.

Nikkie Reza and Bailey Haseltine graduated from boot camp Sunday.

Sort of. Actually, it was a kind of piano boot camp.

The two 14-year-olds were among 100 area piano students who took part in the Fargo-Moorhead Music Teachers Association multi-piano festival at North Dakota State University Festival Concert Hall.

Piano students played two to a piano, with three to six duos each playing two pieces together.

Reza and Haseltine played in two parts of the program, performing "Battle Hymn of the Republic" and "America the Beautiful" in one, and "Poland" and "Brazil" in the other.


They obviously were having a good time. Reza wore a broad smile for much of her time on stage, even though her partner inadvertently nearly pushed her off the bench.

"It is a lot of work," Haseltine said. "It's hard to do two people."

But then, "it's an opportunity to take a break from doing all the hard stuff at lessons," Reza said. "Piano's fun, but sometimes you just need a break."

There was plenty of time for fun at Sunday's concert. In fact, the final number, performed by a dozen of the piano teachers, was theme and variations on "Chopsticks," performed wearing hats and, in some cases, feather boas. The teachers presented conductor Brian Cole - who's bald - with a rainbow-colored wig to wear for the last number.

Karen Okerlund, the girl's teacher and, along with Corinne Nustad, the event's co-chair, said once a student passes the audition, playing in the concert requires some concentrated work.

Three weeks ago, 125 area piano students, ages fourth grade through high school, auditioned for the 100 spots, Okerlund said. Those selected then had two rehearsals to hone two pieces before a final hour and a quarter of rehearsals preceding Sunday's concert.

Cole, who teaches in Moorhead schools and is co-conductor of the Fargo-Moorhead Area Youth Symphonies, calls the concert "one of my favorite events that I've done."

"Pianists often don't get the opportunity to play in a group," he says. "It's an important skill for these young kids to learn, not just to listen but to watch. ... Usually, when you play piano, it's like figure skating, where you're out on the ice, it's just you. Today, it's like being part of a basketball team or a football team."


Younger students sometimes struggle to work in musical teams, but with the older kids, "it's just like being in front of an orchestra of pianos," Cole says.

The Music Teachers Association has held the multi-piano festival since 1982.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Tom Pantera at (701) 241-5541

What To Read Next
Get Local