On Sept. 28, the Mercyhurst community will welcome local students to the annual Piano and Strings Day.
The program is open for students in 6th through 12th grade who play piano, violin, cello or double bass.
“We started the program in fall 2015 as a way to increase visibility and recruitment in the strings and piano areas,” says Nathan Hess, D.M.A., D’Angelo Department of Music chair and piano instructor.
Since then, the tradition has held strong.
Though it is a relatively young program, it has seen success in drawing not only local students, but those as far away as Meadville, Jamestown and Ashtabula.
The visiting students have a very busy day planned for them.
They start out first thing in the morning with group lessons at 8:30 a.m.
Then they have some practice time and sit in on music theory lessons before breaking for lunch at the Grotto Commons.
After lunch, they attend a masterclass and workshop taught by Mercyhurst faculty.
Instructors involved with Piano and Strings day include violin and viola instructor Jonathon R. Moser, M.M., and cello instructor Kellen Degnan, M.M.
Music Education majors also assist to make sure the day runs smoothly.
The instruction from Mercyhurst faculty is then followed by a short dinner and an evening concert in Walker Recital Hall.
The day ends around 8 p.m. and concludes the students’ twelve hour introduction to the life of a university musician.
“Many of the students attending in recent years have been younger, so hopefully as they near high school graduation we will see them audition for our university programs,” Hess said.
Hess added that at least three students have gone on to enroll in the D’Angelo Department, and that “they’ve all been top-notch students.”
The hope is that this program draws even more of these topnotch piano and string students to Mercyhurst in the future.
However, recruitment is not the only purpose that Piano and String Day serves.
The even more important goal is to create a unique and worthwhile experience for each of the students who participate in this event.
When asked what he most hopes that the young musicians walk away from this experience with, Hess says he hopes they “get a taste of what it’s like to make music in a university setting and have fun while doing it.”