By Debbie Adams
Susan Lewis Music Studio voice and piano students presented their annual Spring Recital on June 12 at Thrasher Memorial United Methodist Church in Vinton in a sanctuary packed with families and friends.
“I teach with my heart, and my heart is overflowing with joy right now,” said Lewis. “Sixty of my piano and voice students delivered incredible performances at the 2022 Spring Recital.
“The high level of talent and skill displayed involved numerous students who are among the finest musicians in not only our area, but anywhere!” she added. “Many of them are at a level comparable to contestants on ‘The Voice,’ ‘American Idol,’ or ‘America’s Got Talent.’ I even have a few students who are amazing songwriters and are already performing locally.
“The benefits of piano/voice recitals and public performances for students are priceless,” Lewis said. “These benefits include building confidence, achievement recognition, family bonding, improving skills, time management, and discipline, to name a few.”
Students performing piano solos included:
- Charlotte McGrath, “It’s a Small World”
- Nolan Cranwell, “Old McDonald”
- Karlee Smith, “Winnie the Pooh”
- Aniya Smith, “Supercalifragilistic”
- Addy McLennan, “Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee”
- Emory Mullins, “Grapes are Great”
- Kori Carter, “The Grandfather Clock”
- Sadie Underwood, “All of You” (Encanto)
- William Dodge, “This is the Day”
- RJ McLennan, “For the Beauty of the Earth”
- Jackson Morris, “Star Wars Theme”
- Aubri Kessler, “Colors of the Wind” (Pocahontas)
- Mara Roche, “Morning Prelude”
- Addi Thiel, “This is Me” (The Greatest Showman)
- Milton Clark, “Music Box Dancer”
- Mario Villarreal, “Bare Necessities” (The Jungle Book)
- Deon Staunton, “Over the Rainbow” (The Wizard of Oz)
- Kathryn Dodson, “Easy on Me”
- Nolan Ferguson, “Ezekiel Saw the Wheel”
- Lilla Clark, “A Sky Full of Stars”
- Abigail Harvey, “This Train”
- Philip Saben, “Wet Hands” (Minecraft)
- Petra Dodge, “Jesus Loves Me”
- John Hart, “Theme from M*A*S*H*”
- Emily Hall, “Rise and Shine”
- Lucy Sealey, “My Favorite Things” (The Sound of Music)
- Emily Mower, “Wheel of Fortune” (Pirates of the Caribbean, Dead Man’s Chest)
- John Saben, “He’s a Pirate” (Pirates of the Caribbean)
- Lily Sealey, “Arabesque”
- Enna Schofield, “Piano Man”
- Trevor Bono, “You are the Reason”
- Scotlyn Leonard, “Circle of Life” (The Lion King)
- David Saben, “Stereo Madness”
- Ellawyn Pagan, “Interstellar Main Theme”
- Steve Miller, “When the Saints Go Marching In”
- Cary Jones, “Equinox”
- Henry Saben, “River Flows in You”
- Sydney Thomas, “Solfeggio in D Major” and “Vienna”
- Chloe Hopkins, “Emma’s Theme”
- Allie Watson, “Telephone”
- Madison Saunders, “A Million Reasons” (piano and vocal)
- Lexi Williamson, “Maple Leaf Rag”
- Latriva Pierce, “Sorrow without Solace” (Final Fantasy XV Piano Collections)
Voice students performing included:
- Brooklyn Williams, “Blessed Is the One”
- Emily Hall, “Jesus, Strong and Kind”
- Karlee Smith, “A Million Dreams” (The Greatest Showman)
- Josue Smales, “Memories”
- Aniya Smith, “Easy on Me”
- Nolan Ferguson, “The Old Rugged Cross”
- Petra Dodge, “Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing”
- Aubri Kessler, “Things a Man Oughta Know”
- Ryleigh Woolwine, “Born to Entertain” (Ruthless)
- Emily Mower, “Apex Predator” (Mean Girls Musical)
- Sofia Gonzalez, “Reflection” (Mulan)
- Heather Saunders, “There is a Reason” (accompanied self on piano)
- Mark Schueler, “Teddy” (original children’s song, accompanied self on guitar)
- Chloe Hopkins, “Bury Me Beneath the Willow” (playing mandolin, accompanied by Lisa Ratliff on guitar) and “Who You Say I Am”
- Brent Saunders, “Neon Moon” (accompanied by Trey Saunders on guitar, Carl Saunders on dobro, and Jeff Saunders on bass)
- Trey Saunders, “Ghost Riders in the Sky” (playing guitar, accompanied by Carl Saunders on dobro and Jeff Saunders on bass)
- Ella Folk, “This Song” (original composition with guitar)
- Trevor Bono, “Evermore” (Beauty and the Beast 2017)
- Kelly Ronan, “I Will Survive”
- Paul Sealey, “This Is the Moment” (Jekyll and Hyde)
- Simon and Paul Sealey, duet, “The Sound of Silence”
- Latriva Pierce, “Two” (Sleeping at Last)
- Gary Feazelle, “Deep River”
- Lexi Williamson, “Where Do Rainbows Go” (vocal/piano original composition)
- Madison Saunders, “All I Ask”
- Tes Smith, “Turn Your Face”
- Abby Shelton, “Nessun Dorma (Turandot)
- Simon Sealey, “In Case You Don’t Live Forever” and “You’ll Be Back” (Hamilton)
Twelve students performed in both categories—voice and piano.
Lewis’s students range in age from preschool to adult. She currently teaches four college students: Madison Saunders, Abby Shelton, Tes Smith, and Allie Watson. Her adult students performing on June 12 included Trevor Bono, Gary Feazelle, Steve Miller, Kelly Ronan, Heather Saunders, and Dr. Mark Schueler.
The 60 students who performed did not include all of the students she teaches—a few were out of town, and she also has virtual/online non-local students and several more adult students.
The custom each year at the Spring Recital is to showcase students who have just graduated from high school. This year there were three– Chloe Hopkins, Simon Sealey, and Sydney Thomas. Each performed two or more pieces during the recital and were recognized at the end of the program.
Chloe Hopkins is a 2022 graduate of Liberty Online Academy High School and has studied piano for seven years. She recently began voice lessons as well. She has also been playing violin/fiddle since the age of four. Other instruments Chloe plays include mandolin, guitar, and she recently started teaching herself to play the dobro. According to Lewis, Chloe is a “very musical young lady.”
Chloe participated in the Roanoke Youth Symphony program. She enjoys playing in local jams with other musicians as well as competing in local fiddle competitions. She was named as the winner of the Houston/Fest Scholarship in Galax.
Her future plans include attending Liberty University Online in the fall in Interdisciplinary Studies. She will be continuing her voice and piano lessons with Lewis.
“Her love and passion for her music, and her talent, make teaching her so enjoyable,” Lewis said.
Simon Sealey is a 2022 graduate and valedictorian of Hidden Valley High School. He has been a year-round voice student for several years and is “an outstanding young man with quite an impressive resume.”
Lewis says it has been a special privilege to teach not only Simon, but several of his siblings, Simon plans to attend Old Dominion University, majoring in chemistry and minoring in vocal performance.
Simon was selected to the Class of 2022 Titan 12, becoming a member of the prestigious group who advise the school administration and provide student leadership at Hidden Valley. He became the first Hidden Valley student to be accepted into the VMEA Senior Honor Choir, made 1st Tenor in All-District Choir, and made All-Virginia Choir for the second year.
He is also an outstanding athlete. He placed sixth in Region 3D indoor track with a new school record time. Recently, he not only qualified for state in outdoor track, but won 3rd place in state in the 300-meter hurdles. Along with three other teammates, he has qualified for Outdoor Track Nationals in the SMR Relay, coming up later this month.
Simon has won numerous scholarships, including the ODU Presidential Scholarship, the ODU Diehn Choir, ODU Perry’s Honor College, Lions Club Bland Foundation Music Scholarship Competition second place in the state, the Cosmopolitan Track Club Scholarship, and the Blue Eagle Alexander Scholarship.
Sydney Thomas is a 2022 graduate of Staunton River High School. According to Lewis, she has been a piano student for less than two years, “making an incredible amount of progress in that time,” due to her hard work, dependability, and dedication. She played in the Bland Foundation Music Scholarship Competition after just a year of lessons.
Her honors include receiving the Bedford County Council PTA Scholarship for Staunton River High School, along with several other local scholarships. Her SRHS Senior Awards include being the Golden Eagle Recipient as well as winning the English Award.
She has enjoyed participating in yearbook, journalism, theatre, the National Honor Society, and her church youth group while in high school.
Sydney plans to attend Virginia Tech to pursue a degree in the field of communications and has been accepted into the Honors College, as well.
“I must thank Thrasher Memorial United Methodist Church for the use of their lovely facility, Greg Chewning for his incredible sound technician skills, Jamie Archual (Enoch Creek Productions) for videography work, and Debbie Adams with The Vinton Messenger for always supporting my studio students,” Lewis said in conclusion.
She especially thanked the families for supporting and encouraging their children through their music education studies—“it’s a team effort.”
Be sure to check out videos of each piano and vocal performance (produced by Jamie Archual) to be uploaded soon to Lewis’s YouTube Channel: Susan Lewis Music Studio.
Lewis can be contacted by email: email@example.com, on Facebook at Susan Lewis Music Studio, or by calling 540-890-3400.