During the spring semester, the time for piano performance majors to learn and memorize a classical piece is limited, said piano instructors and students. Despite the short time to prepare, the piano major recital was still held on June 22 in the McKay Auditorium.
Scott McCarrey, the piano professor who founded the piano performance major at BYU-Hawaii, said, “It’s a short semester, they played difficult works, and they challenged themselves.”
Sister Stacy McCarrey, a music professor and piano instructor, said, “It takes hours and hours of hard work by themselves, and they’re really dedicated to memorize the music and perform.”
According to Sister Stacy, aside from presenting music to the audience, the performance of students were also graded by piano professors as a part of their final exam.
“It’s a like two-part final [exam] usually. They play for the three piano professors, and then they come to play in the recital. There’s a piano recital every semester,” shared Sister Stacy.
Brother Scott said recitals give students opportunities to go through the stress of performance which helps them grow faster. “Playing for just the faculty will help them, but we do this in lessons and every week anyways.”
Karin Ho Lee, a senior from Hong Kong majoring in general music studies with a piano emphasis, said she didn’t have much stage experience back in Hong Kong, so studying at BYUH has helped her learn to deal with the stress of performing.
“I practice more, play in front of others more, and try not to be easily distracted. I need to be focused and relaxed at the same time,” explained Karin.
Kenneth Lee, Karin’s husband who is a senior from Hong Kong studying math, said he understands why recitals bring performers stress and it can be more challenging than exams of other kinds. He explained, “If I’m taking an exam, no one looks at me. Even if I’m doing a presentation, it isn’t like there’s a whole stage for me.”
Kenneth recalled how he used to underestimate the difficulty Karin faced. “Before, I thought like ‘What’s the big deal about practicing two hours a day? I often spend more than two hours doing my homework.’ But actually, the case for piano is different. No matter how good you are during practice, if you make mistakes on the stage, it’s over. Everything is just over.”
Despite the stress and difficulty students in this major face, Riri Asanuma, a senior studying piano performance from Japan, said it’s still been “a wonderful time” to her. “It was really challenging and tough, but it’s worth it. I’m just so grateful for choosing this major.”