OMTA’s Gem

Review of the 2009 OMTA Solo Festival, Printed in the April 2009 Newsletter of the Kansas City Music Teachers Association

Teachers know that students need the experience of performing, so we find places for them to do so. Olathe Music Teachers Association has created a gem of a local performance opportunity for pre-college piano students. On February 28, OMTA produced their third annual Solo Festival, which was held at the Bell Cultural Events Center on the MidAmerica Nazarene University campus.

As a seasoned adjudicator, I cannot recall ever witnessing such a microcosm of everything wonderful, special, and promising in the arena of piano competitions. It wasn’t just the quality of performing that I heard consistently throughout that luminous afternoon; it was the overall abundance of excellence that a well organized and devoted group of teachers pulled together, imbued with humility.

Under the direction of Phaedra Miller and Jennifer Fink, the Solo Festival’s objective is to help motivate students by building their self-esteem. From prom dresses to little bow-ties, from nuance to crescendo, these kids surpassed all expectation. I was coined “The Dear Abby of Adjudicators” because of the encouraging and one-to-one style of reaching the student through my written commentary and well deserved it was. Lori Clark, Brenda Simmons, Heidi Wiens, Julie Bosworth, and Diane Koker were among teachers who participated. The competition also included a ten-level theory test as well as performance sections in the areas of clarinet, harp, piano, and voice; followed by the Festival Recital and Awards Ceremony the following afternoon. It isn’t any wonder so many students received superior scores and medals because of meticulous teaching.

Someone told me recently, “Humility is not thinking less about yourself, but thinking about yourself less.” That is the mantra engraved on OMTA’s halo.

-Jennifer Lacy (festival adjudicator)