By Debbie Adams
“Wow–how exciting it was to finally have an ‘in person’ recital with an audience of nearly 300 attentive, enthusiastic guests!” said Susan Lewis of the Susan Lewis Music Studio. “My heart is still overflowing with joy from all of my students’ incredible performances–from the numerous beginners through the well-seasoned seniors and college students.”
Last year’s spring 2020 recital was held virtually with students filmed performing individually at Lewis’s home studio due to COVID-19 restrictions, with the recital made available for online viewing by families and friends.
This year over 40 students performed piano and/or vocal solos during the recital at Vinton Baptist on June 27.
Each year at the Spring Recital, Lewis showcases her graduating seniors. This year was no different. Seniors Andrea Gonzalez and Abby Shelton each performed two pieces—Gonzalez on the piano and Shelton as a vocalist—and were introduced to the audience at the conclusion of the recital.
“Senior Abby Shelton is a homeschool graduate who has been my voice student for the past two years, making incredible progress,” said Lewis. “Her future plans include beginning with an online musical theatre conservatory as well as working as a teaching artist in local theatre, including performing in more shows herself–continuing a path towards a musical/theatrical career (music to my ears). And Abby plans to continue her private voice lessons with me, so I get to keep her for another year!
“Abby performed ‘Pulled’ from ‘The Addams Family,’ which was so fun and entertaining. Her second piece was ‘Queen of the Night’ in German from Mozart’s opera, ‘The Magic Flute.’ This is an incredibly difficult piece, even for a music major or professional. She delivered an impressive performance with her gorgeous soprano voice.”
Shelton won first place this spring in the 2021 Lions Club Bland Foundation Music Scholarship Competition at the local level and second place in the regional competition.
“Senior Andrea Gonzalez is a graduate and valedictorian of William Byrd High School as well as the Center for Visual Arts at the Burton Center for Arts & Technology,” Lewis noted. “Andrea has been a dedicated piano student for six years and a marching band and symphonic band member her entire high school career. She has won awards in both music and art, including a silver medal in the National Scholastic Art and Writing Awards program.
“Future plans for Andrea include attending Virginia Commonwealth University this fall to pursue a degree in Communication Arts. She hopes to join one of the music ensembles while attending college.
“Andrea performed Burgmuller’s ‘The Storm,’ Op. 109, No. 13, which is the song she played which won her first place in the 2020 Bland Music Foundation Scholarship Competition. She ended the piano portion of the recital with the energetic, rhythmic ‘He’s A Pirate’ from ‘Pirates of the Caribbean.’
“Having three college students continuing their lessons with me has been thoroughly rewarding– Tes Smith (voice), Madison Saunders (piano and voice), and Allie Watson (piano),” Lewis said.
“A recital ‘surprise’ (not printed in the program) was a beautiful vocal duet by two best friends, Madison and Tes, entitled ‘Driver’s License.’ The timbre of each of their voices produced a beautiful blend which enabled them to bless their family members as well as myself (all of us who have been encouraging them to sing a duet together for some time).
“Having adult students who choose to share their talents with others is always a real treat,” Lewis said. “Of course, the recitals are optional for the adult students–but ‘kudos’ to piano student Amanda Morris and voice students, Gary Feazelle and Kelly Ronan, for their special contributions to the 2021 Spring Recital.
“Another highlight of the recital was the original songs shared by Lexi Williamson. Taking both piano and voice lessons, Lexi’s piano solo, ‘Rain Before Thunder,’ definitely created imagery as she played. Her vocal piece ‘Falling Out’ was another original of hers accompanied by herself at the piano–a true gift!
“Seeing former students in the audience (such as Oliver Sealey and Eva Pierce) who were there in support of their siblings who are my current students, was very heartwarming,” Lewis added.
As is always the case, the recital was more of a concert than a recital with such talented students.
Students performing piano solos included:
- Nolan Cranwell with “Raindrops”
- Addy McLennan, “The B-I-B-L-E”
- RJ McLennan, “Deep and Wide”
- Pierce Franks: “Three Pigs”
- William Dodge: “Yankee Doodle”
- Petra Dodge: “Groove Tune”
- Mara Roche: “Alouette”
- Aubri Kessler: “I Just Can’t Wait to Be King”
- Skylar Thompson: “Part of Your World”
- Deon Staunton: “Rocky Top”
- Kathryn Dodson: “Beauty and the Beast”
- Nathan Gray: “Supercali” (Mary Poppins)
- Lilla Clark: “Puff the Magic Dragon”
- Emily Hall: “Boom Boom”
- Ryleigh Woolwine: “How Great Thou Art”
- Nolan Ferguson: “This is the Day”
- Emily Mower: “Music Box Dancer”
- Enna Schofield: “Für Elise” (Theme)
- Scotlyn Leonard: “Lean on Me”
- Kendall Dodson: “Roar”
- Lily Sealey: “William Tell Overture”
- Colter Dean: “Moonlight Sonata—Op. 27, No. 2 (1st Movement)”
- Abby Booth: “Overture—The Barber of Seville”
- Sydney Thomas: “Your Song”
- Amanda Morris (adult student): “The Wind Beneath My Wings”
- Cary Jones: “The Entertainer”
- Lexi Williamson: “Rain Before Thunder”
- Allie Watson (college student): “Larger Than Life” (Backstreet Boys)
- Madison Saunders (college student): “Can’t Help Falling in Love”
- Latriva Pierce: “My Lie” (Your Lie in April)
- Andrea Gonzalez (graduating senior): “The Storm—Op.109, No. 13” and “He’s a Pirate” (Pirates of the Caribbean)
Voice students performing included:
- Olivia Booth: “ABC Song”
- Xander Warf: “Jesus Loves Me”
- Petra Dodge: “I Wonder How It Felt”
- Skylar Thompson: “Set It All Free” (Sing)
- Nolan Ferguson: “Truth Be Told”
- Aubri Kessler: “Girl on Fire”
- Ryleigh Woolwine: ‘Sayonara” (How to Eat Like a Child)
- Emily Mower: “My New Philosophy” (You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown)
- Sofia Gonzalez: “Some Things Never Change” (Frozen 2)
- Latriva Pierce: “Audition—The Fools Who Dream” (La La Land)
- Lexi Williamson: “Falling Out”, accompanied herself on piano
- Paul Sealey: “Irish Blessing”
- Kelly Ronan (adult student): “My Lullaby” (Lion King 2)
- Gary Feazelle (adult student): “The Trumpet Shall Sound” (The Messiah)
- Madison Saunders (college student): “Lost Without You”
- Simon Sealey: “Panis Angelicus”
- Tes Smith (college student): “Secret Love Song”
- Madison Saunders and Tes Smith: a surprise duet for their families of “Driver’s License”
- Abby Shelton (graduating senior): “Pulled” (The Addams Family) and “Queen of the Night aria” (in German)
Lewis has been teaching music in the Roanoke Valley since 1990. She has taken the time to answer some questions parents often have about how to determine if a child is ready for piano or voice lessons. She speaks from the perspective of about 40 total years of teaching experience since she was in college, “having taught easily over a thousand students not only through private lessons, but through various ages in church choirs as well.”
“It is never too soon to expose your child to music,” Lewis said. “The goal is to foster a love of music that will last them the rest of their lives. Especially for preschoolers and young students, lessons must be fun and innovative. To accomplish this, preschool students need to focus on different activities in short time spans throughout the lesson–any age is ideal to have fun with music by playing and experimenting with musical sounds. Also, age-appropriate materials and games build awareness of musical concepts like rhythm and pitch.
“A parent should ask themselves, ‘Should I encourage my child to experience the joy of music?’ Take advantage of a child’s enthusiasm and let them ignite their passion for music as well. A child who is motivated will progress at a faster rate and have more success. An introductory lesson is a way to gauge a student’s interest in music. Studying music at any age is good for body, mind, and spirit, and something to enjoy for a lifetime!
“I cannot thank Vinton Baptist Church enough for the use of their facility, beautiful piano, and sound system–as well as Chris Monroe for assisting with the booking of our recital, Greg Mason for running sound, and Jamie Archual (Enoch Creek Productions) for videography,” Lewis added.
Videos of each piano and vocal performance (produced by Jamie Archual) will be uploaded soon to Susan’s YouTube Channel: Susan Lewis Music Studio. She can be contacted by email: firstname.lastname@example.org, on Facebook at Susan Lewis Music Studio, or by calling 540-890-3400.
Spring semester ended with the recital on June 27. Summer lessons are beginning the week of July 6. Fall semester starts on August 18.
Visit the Vinton Messenger Facebook page for more photos from the Susan Lewis Spring Recital.