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Music festival aims to bring Colorado piano students together, foster learning and growth

Music fest aims to bring piano students together, foster learning and growth
Music fest aims to bring piano students together, foster learning and growth 02:11

Inside a Denver-area home, students of all ages are perfecting their musical craft on the grand piano.

"I love being able to like express feelings and emotions and like really move people," said Courtney Merrill, a senior in high school. "I like people saying that they got goosebumps after hearing me play because like yes, that's exactly what I was going for."

Both Merrill and her younger brother Trey have been playing the piano for most of their young lives.

Courtney Merrill and her younger brother Trey CBS

"Just developing a hobby, and developing a skill that works, that takes hard work to develop," said Trey.

"It's not like doing a team sport. You're not around a whole bunch of other kids when you're working on it, you're just kind of all by yourself," said Cheryl Reeder, an Adams County piano teacher. "When you get together with a bunch of kids that are your age and you're doing this too, it's kind of encouraging to see that."

It's seeing that encouraging sight that, in part, encouraged Reeder to convert her house into the home of what has become the Adams County Music Festival.

Back in 2022, she and another piano teacher started raising money for a festival for piano players 6 to 18 years old after she says funding kept impacting an existing festival run by the Thornton Arts Council.

"There are opportunities if you like go down to Denver but then that's a bigger pool of talent right and it's a little more difficult for the kids to do well and things like that," said Reeder. "We thought it was going to only be a one-year thing and then we would have this other competition would come back and it just didn't."

Adams County piano teacher Cheryl Reeder CBS

However, the demand among students and their families to keep this competition running was undeniable.

"It's helped me become a better public speaker because it helps me handle the nervousness of being in front of people and it also helps me feel really confident in my ability to play," said Courtney.

Giving Adams County kids a platform to compete amongst peers does come at a cost, however.

"We do have to pay our judges and we want them to be good judges," said Reeder. "We also like to give the kids both trophies and some prize money. Because when they get that prize money it makes them feel like more like working towards it."

As Reeder crowdfunds to continue the two-night festival, her students remain focused on honing down their pieces.

"Just to show what I've developed over the last couple years," said Trey.

The festival runs from April 10 to April 11. Information about it can be found here.

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