2 pianists reach Panel Finals

By Jessica Lee

Pianists Alexia Le ’14 and Chelsea Pan ’14 were selected as Panel State Finalists and will perform at the State Finals, a statewide competition for students who play at a near-professional level.

The Certificate of Merit, sponsored by The Music Teachers’ Association of California, is an annual evaluation involving over 27,000 musicians and consists of a written theory test and a judged performance of several memorized pieces. Panel is open exclusively to students in grades 10 through 12 who have completed the entire program of CM.

There are three rounds of Panel Regional, State and Convention. Le auditioned for the Regional round on March 3 with five memorized pieces and was selected to advance to the State rounds.

To prepare for Panel, Le, who has played piano for 11 years, practiced every day for at least two hours. She also performed her pieces at recitals and charity events to get comfortable with performing her program before an audience.

To take the CM test and do well, applicants must practice their instruments every day for the entire year, Le said.

“There are no off seasons for music,” Le said. “The theory test requires intense study and practice, and the actual performance requires the ability to play well under the nerve-wracking pressure knowing that the judges are watching your every move.”

“Preparing for the CM and Panel was grueling work, but I love both music and the feeling of accomplishment,” Le said. “I dedicate a lot of time and concentration to the piano and it really is a lifestyle I have gotten used to.”