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Carnegie ranking is music to school's ears

Annette Freston peels the word “candidate” from a window in front of her Music For Life studio on Monday. The school was the first in Arizona to be named a founding member of a prestigious program sponsored by Carnegie Hall and Canada’s Royal Conservatory.

School is first in Arizona named to list

If you can't get to Carnegie Hall, Carnegie Hall will come to you.

That's essentially what happened in Kingman for students at Annette Freston's Music For Life studio, which was just named a founding school through the Carnegie Hall Royal Conservatory Achievement Program.

Music For Life wasn't the only Arizona school to be named a founder, but it was the first of three in the state to earn the title. Arizona State University and a school in Tempe were the other two.

Nationwide, about 150 schools and studios have earned the founder designation.

The program is based on regular professional assessments designed to track students' progress as musicians. Assessments are performed by rigorously trained adjudicators who travel around the country, according to the Carnegie Hall website.

There are about 350 of them in the U.S., to go along with more than 4,000 teachers like Freston.

Last year, more than 6,000 students participated.

Created in 2011, the program was designed to establish a national standard for music assessments and to help build confidence in musicians of all ages.

"My kids started practicing in April," said Freston.

She said the students had to perform three pieces.

"They were assessed in December and we just got the results."

Freston said it's a rigorous program with tough technical requirements. Each of her 25 students passed and two of them had perfect scores.

Percussion instructor Jeremy Donson's students also participated and all of them passed, as well.

"Jeremy's students turned out to be the first participating drummers in the U.S.," she said. The school also teaches voice and guitar.

The adjudicators, who will next assess students in the spring, test them on technique, ear recognition, musicianship, and sight reading.

Freston has spent most of her life either playing piano or teaching the instrument.

The program, she said, will raise the standard of music in Kingman and give musically inclined students an outlet to develop their skills.

"A lot of parents didn't know their kids were so talented," said Donson, who was named a founding instructor. "For (the program) to be here and not in a big metropolitan area is amazing. This is a great opportunity for Kingman."

Between the two of them, Freston and Donson have about 100 students. There's always room for more, however. For more information, call Freston at (928) 303-4893. Call Donson at (928) 279-4515 or stop by the studio at 4380 Stockton Hill Road.

"Our goal is to help the community raise its cultural awareness," said Freston.

"We're all very proud of the growing participation in this program as students and teachers have embraced the value of having a national standard of musical achievement in the U.S.," stated Clive Gillinson on the Carnegie Hall website. He is the venue's executive and artistic director.


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