April 27, 2017
Writer: Spencer Williams
Three BYU-Idaho students fine tuned their skills to compete at a high-level music competition with some of the nation's best young musicians in Baltimore, Maryland this March. The Teton Trio competed after having placed first at the state level as well as at the northwest division event.
The Music Teachers National Association (MTNA) is one of the largest and oldest music competitions in the country and hosts the competition annually in conjunction with the MTNA national conference in March. Few BYU-Idaho students get to participate in the divisional and national level of this event and it is a great accomplishment to be able to do so.
Lizz Shill, Annie Brown Taylor, and Kendyl Hollingsworth-the three of them constituting the Teton Trio-are the BYU-Idaho music students who won the northwest division competition for the chamber winds category in January of this year, allowing them to move on to the national event.
"It was an absolutely amazing experience for me," said Taylor. "I had never been at that high of a competition before. It was very humbling seeing and meeting all of the other students there and seeing how talented they are and how hard they work. There were students from Arizona State University and Michigan University and we all became good friends."
Taylor said even though they didn't place at the national competition, she felt honored to be there.
Music Department faculty member Stephen Thomas accompanied the trio in Baltimore. Thomas says he hopes this experience will prepare the girls for their future work in their chosen fields.
"I would say it was very valuable for the students to get to hear the level of playing of the other competitors and to be inspired by it, as well as to recognize their own levels of attainment in relation to their peers nationally," Thomas said. "I felt that the BYU-Idaho Teton Trio played very well, and represented themselves admirably and on a similar level to their peers."
Thomas pointed out Shill, the horn player in the trio, graduated this past semester and has been accepted to a prestigious graduate program at Boston University.
"At the regional competition in Spokane, Washington I had one of the most special music performances I've ever had," said Taylor. "I wasn't nervous at all, Lizz, Kendyl, and I connected and got in a groove and just expressed ourselves and made music together. Usually I get nervous, but I don't remember being nervous at all. Instead, I just had fun."
Taylor expressed the trio's gratitude for the mentors their group found at BYU-Idaho, who gave them so much time beyond the classroom.
"When you're a musician, who your teacher is matters," said Taylor. "It's more than they tell you what you do right and wrong and correct it. You need to have a relationship with each other and make connections in the music with each other. Each of us in the trio feels the same about our teachers that coached us and we are so grateful for the counsel and guidance that each of us received from them."