Young musicians use fundraising proceeds to help bring Steinways to WC

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As president of the Weatherford Music Teachers Association, Liz Wynne is helping shape the future of young musicians.

And through annual fundraising piano performances by their youth, she and the WMTA are helping young people help each other advance their future as well.

The WMTA is a group of instructors who teach piano to Parker County youths, along with a few from Palo Pinto and Tarrant County.

The most recent of these fundraisers was held at Antonio's Mexican Restaurant in early December. Students sought out sponsors to donate for each minute played or sponsors could make a blanket donation. Also, diners could place tips in a jar on the piano, which was rented and placed in the restaurant for the special evening.

"Our chairman, Russell Hughes, works tirelessly to promote the event, and the money response has been good," Wynne said. "We had enough money to fund our costs for the various events and some leftover. With the extra funds, we decided as a group to help the investment at Weatherford College in obtaining quality pianos."

Those quality pianos are none other than the very best, Steinway & Sons. Weatherford College officially reached All-Steinway status in the fall of 2019. The All-Steinway initiative began in the spring, and, through generous donations to the WC Foundation from community members, faculty and staff, WC acquired nine new Steinway & Sons-designed instruments ranging from Boston uprights to Steinway grand pianos.

"We hope that the students and the entire community will benefit from the excellent pianos at WC," Wynne said. "And the students (youth in the WMTA performances) will, in all likelihood, have opportunities to play on these instruments, either in competitions held there or by attending Weatherford College."

Wynne said she is a big fan of concerts and musicals at Weatherford College. Also, she said, the WTMA has held piano festivals there.

The WMTA was organized in 1991, and the fundraiser began a few years later by the members, most of whom are now retired or moved away.

"We've been blessed to have several successful years," Hughes said of the fundraiser. "We've had some really good response from the public. It's not your typical recital format. It shows kids there's a tremendous variety of performing opportunities out there."

The students range in age from kindergarten to adult.

"Occasionally former students will show up and play, and often we have parents or grandparents take part also," Wynne said.

Along with their help for WC pianos, the funds also help pay for state-sponsored music theory testing, piano solo festivals and travel to the Texas Music Teachers Association State Convention. Groups of youths travel to the event each year and play ensemble pieces on a large stage with 15 grand pianos. The TMTA State Convention this year is June 12-14 in Houston at the Hyatt Regency.

"The kids, it's one of the highlights of their year," Hughes said.

When the WMTA notified the college that they wanted to donate to the All-Steinway initiative, college officials were touched.

"To think that this donation came from the efforts of dozens of young musicians is truly inspiring," said Brent Baker, foundation executive director. "Music brings people together, and this is another great example right here in Parker County."

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