USU Youth Conservatory holding open houses

The Youth Conservatory at Utah State University will hold two open house information and registration nights for fall semester. The Youth Conservatory is the Department of Music’s successful, long running piano study program for young people. Open houses with registration are Tuesday, Aug. 11, and Tuesday, Aug. 25, from 6-8 p.m. in the Kent Concert Hall lobby of the Chase Fine Arts Center at USU (southwest corner of 700 N. 1200 East, Logan). Fall semester classes and lessons begin Monday, Aug. 31. The Youth Conservatory offers private piano lessons and group musicianship classes for children ages 4-18. Students at all levels are welcome. “Including undergraduate and graduate piano majors at USU, the university faculty and community teachers who participate in our program, we have nearly 50 teachers from which to choose,” said Brooke Hirst, Youth Conservatory director. “This allows us to find the perfect teacher for every student, young or old, beginner or advanced player.” The Youth Conservatory was founded in 1978 by internationally known piano pedagogue Gary Amano, head of the piano program at USU. The Youth Conservatory functions as a laboratory school for USU students who study in the piano program. Its mission is to train teachers in the traditions of the great pianists, and provide the Cache Valley community with high-quality, enjoyable and affordable piano instruction. “We offer traditional 30-minute private piano lessons, but for optimal learning, we recommend that students also enroll in a 55-minute, once-a-week musicianship class in addition to their private piano lessons,” Hirst said. “The musicianship classes teach music theory, ear training and composing, and students also learn about the lives of famous classical composers.” Hirst said the combination of group study and private lessons make an enhanced learning experience. “When students learn music theory in a group setting, they are able to focus more of their private lesson time on the actual playing of the instrument — so they progress more quickly,” she said. “Also, in the group classes, theory can be taught using games, and students form friendships with others their own age. Taking piano lessons becomes a lot more ‘cool’ when you have friends who are doing it too.” Performance events offered throughout the year give students goals to work toward and look forward to, Hirst said. “We hold annual Halloween, Christmas and Spring recitals,” she said. “Hundreds of children participate in each, and the energy in the Fine Arts Center during these events is really exciting. Our Monster Concert, which occurs each February, is a unique event that we hold in the Kent Concert Hall. We put 20 pianos on stage for this show, and 40 students at a time perform duets simultaneously. It’s an orchestra of pianos — and a thrill to watch and participate in. We program pieces of all levels, so all students can participate. I’ve heard some parents say that their kids stay in piano lessons all year just so they can play in the next Monster Concert.” Lessons and classes are taught in the Chase Fine Arts Center at USU. Parking arrangements for parents bringing children to campus have been arranged. “We have arranged with USU Parking and Transportation Services to provide the families in our program with parking permits, allowing them to utilize the parking lot west of the fine arts building after 3 p.m. on the day of the lesson. This is the most convenient parking lot for the Chase Fine Arts Center, and we’re very happy to be able to offer it for our patrons.” Hirst encourages anyone to attend the open house registration, including those who are just seeking information. “Our registration nights are ‘no obligation’ events, where we hope anyone will feel comfortable coming to learn more about our program,” Hirst said. Parents are encouraged to bring their children with them to registration, especially if they have had previous piano lessons, to ensure proper placement. Additional information about the Youth Conservatory is also available online at, or by calling (435) 797-3018.

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