By Renee Bordner
There is a fair amount of information available on the website and a great deal of information available in the Guild Syllabus. However, I am going to attempt to sum up this information for students, parents and instructors here.
I have prepared students for Piano Guild for many years in Pennsylvania and Massachusetts. In Massachusetts, I was the Co-Chair of the Concord Center for a period of time before creating a Sudbury Chapter in 2017. The Center Chairperson is responsible for securing the location of the auditions. I have elected to host the auditions at our studio in my home. This also means that instructors from outside of our studio are also welcome to bring their students to our audition center which does occur each year.
Students of all ages and stages may participate in the auditions. The student may register to play one to twenty pieces for the Judge. A student must register in advance with an instructor who is a Guild Member who submits the payment and registration card to Headquarters. Once the Guild Fee is submitted to Headquarters, it is non refundable. If a student wishes to change the skill level or number of pieces he or she is playing, there is a $10 fee to receive an updated certificate / report card. Headquarters will assign the dates and times that each instructor is allotted to have students perform for the Judge. The teacher is then responsible for communicating with the students and parents about the assigned dates and times. The scheduling department at Headquarters assigns the Judge to adjudicate at a center. The same judge cannot return to a center for three years.
According to the syllabus and website,
"The Piano Guild, as we are called (a division of the American College of Musicians), was founded in 1929 by Dr. Irl Allison. Since that time, the Guild has grown to more than 850 audition centers where thousands of students enroll annually in our international auditions, which are held throughout the U.S. and abroad.
Our primary function is to establish definite goals and awards--in noncompetitive auditions--for students of all levels, from the earliest beginner to the gifted prodigy. With the exception of our "special" programs, teachers have the flexibility to choose all repertoire for student auditions. Students are judged on individual merit, by a well-qualified music professional, in the areas of accuracy, continuity, phrasing, pedaling, dynamics, rhythm, tempo, tone, interpretation, style, and technique. Our purpose is to encourage growth and enjoyment through the study of piano."
"Students are adjudicated by an international panel of judges and receive report cards, certificates, and fraternity pins. Programs are diversified to meet the needs of both students and teachers. Programs are flexible and include repertoire as well as technical goals (musicianship phases)."
Guild offers students the opportunity to perform in front of one judge versus a large audience and or a panel of judges in a large university like setting. Each student receives a score and comment card full of constructive feedback. The scores are not posted or public. Students can compete with him or herself year after year to improve the score, increase the level of difficulty of pieces and or the number of pieces performed. This a format for students and instructors to set measurable and attainable goals each year. I often explain this to parents and child care givers by equating this to a third party audit. It is a platform for students to receive constructive feedback to help the student to improve. It is a great stepping stone for students who wish to explore other graded systems, competitions and festivals. Guild welcomes both the students who study piano for recreation and leisure as well as the students who intend to major or minor in music.
This year, I will be conducting a Piano Guild Prep workshop for our students. Details will be in our monthly newsletters. This workshop is designed for both students who are new to the Guild process and to students who are seasoned members.
I would be honored to answer any additional questions about Piano Guild, if I do not know the answer, I will find the answer for you. Best wishes in your musical adventures.
Renee Bordner is the owner of Note-worthy Experiences Music Studio and became a member of the Piano Guild Hall of Fame in 2019.