Practice Makes Perfect for LB Piano Students

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Two Long Beach students have received recent accolades for their outstanding piano talents and achievements. Long Beach Middle School sixth-grader Jason Rea and West School fifth-grader Jesse Hubbs are in tune with excellence, garnering well-earned applause for melodies that are often performed by professional musicians.  

Both students secured perfect scores of 100 in their New York State School Music Association Festival solo evaluations at level 6 – the highest and most advanced division. Jason, who has played since he was five, presented Frederic Chopin’s Nocturne Op. 27 No. 2.  Jesse, with approximately six years of experience, performed “Polichinelle” by Sergei Rachmaninoff. In addition to their flawless NYSSMA piano results, the two students have another musical detail in common – they are each skilled in other instruments. Jason studies the clarinet and Jesse, the cello.

Jason has performed in three international piano and string competitions this year. In January, he placed second in the Crescendo International Music Competition and played in the winner’s recital at Carnegie Hall. He continued his success in February with a second-place win in the Elite International Music Competition and another Carnegie Hall recital spot. His latest triumph is a second-place award in the American Protégé International Music Competition, for which he will again take the Carnegie Hall stage in an April 21 winner’s show. 

Jesse is described by West School music teacher Vanessa Krywe as “an amazing pianist.” His talents were extended beyond West on March 9, when he visited Long Beach High School as a guest performer on its Morning Show. Jesse played his winning piece and answered questions from hosts Melody Moy and James O’Connor. In the TV studio, high school students replaced the green-screen background with a Carnegie Hall setting, foreshadowing the world of possible achievements ahead. The show streamed into all high school classrooms during homeroom and can also be viewed on YouTube. 

“I was really surprised,” Jesse said, regarding his NYSSMA score. He noted that he practices consistently and diligently. Jason emphasized the importance of dedication as well. “It takes a lot of practice,” he said. “I usually play about an hour every day.”