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New Tampa piano students shine on music exams

NEW TAMPA — The young students at New Tampa Piano and Pedagogy Academy seem to be really in tune with their art.

All 16 students from the academy who recently took the Royal Conservatory of Music practical examinations received the highest mark classification — first-class honors with distinction, or an A-plus grade — said Judith Jain, founder of the academy on Cross Creek Boulevard.

"It is very hard to get an A-plus, period. I think it's remarkable that the 16 students from our academy who tested that day all got an A-plus.'' she said. "We were all astonished.'

Jain, who has a doctorate degree in piano performance, said the students' proficiency confirmed for her that the teaching method she and her two teaching colleagues, Jane West and Aline Giampietro, are using is working.

"We're on the right track.''

The students, ages 7 to 13 and from the New Tampa and Wesley Chapel areas, had to play three to six contrasting pieces — depending on age — test their skills and understanding of the music.

It's a comprehensive exam that highlights the students' understanding of piano study. Top scorers must demonstrate a "truly felt expression of the repertoire, not a robotic performance,'' Jain stated in an email.

The students who excelled on the exam are Tanvi Balan, Phu Doan, Niral Gaddi, Bhavya Gudaru, Aeon Johnson, Micah Lawrence, Priya Majethia, Vinesh Mesaros, Pavani Parashar, Abraham Schrader, Ashley Viradiya, William Piriou, Milana Schemkes, Sofia Gonzalez, Lauren Scotch and Benjamin Scotch.

Recent statistics Jain passed on from the Royal Conservatory Music Development Program state that this year about 6.5 percent of the teachers had all their students achieve more than 90 percent on their exams. Of those, 79 percent of the teachers had only one student taking the exam. About 16 percent of all exam-takers this year have earned an A-plus.