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"May pleasure in piano playing be our goal, our guide the Golden Rule." -- Irl Allison

The National Guild of Piano Teachers is the largest nonprofit organization of piano teachers and students in the world. Part of the American College of Musicians, it works to present opportunity and awards to pianists of all experience levels. Auditions and competitions are periodically offered to students who, with the aid of their teachers, have the flexibility to choose a personal repertoire. The student performs for a professonal musician or music teacher and is judged in the areas of accuracy, continuity, phrasing, pedaling, dynamics, rhythm, tempo, tone, interpretation, style, and technique.

The Piano Guild, as it also called, was formed in 1929 by Dr. Irl Allison, a pianist and teacher. The event began as a tournament between fourty-six performers and was held in Hardin-Simmons University in Abilene, Texas. By 1933, there were 400 contestants performing in a dozen cites around Texas. A generous donation of $4000 allowed Allison to leave Texas to expand the Guild. He sought New York as a place to gain prestige. The following year hailed the first guild-sponsored national piano-playing contest, held in Steinway Hall. Allison spent the next eight years traveling the country, interesting music teachers to hold local competitions through the Guild. By 1949, the Guilds membership had grown to 26,000 students and teachers, and nearly every major city in the US was hosting events. By 1986, the guild auditions had become the largest piano event in the world. Today, there are over 118,000 musicians participating annually at over 800 locations in the US and abroad.

The general program is a memorized repertoire of up to twenty pieces. There are also specialized programs for jazz, duets, ensemble work, and composition. Awards include scholarships for High School Seniors, the Guild Founder's Plaque, five and ten year National Roll, the Irl Allison Gold Medal, and the Paderewski Gold Medal. The Paderewski Medal requires ten successive years of 10+ piece programs. The piano guild publicizes its members and events through Piano Guild Notes, published since 1951. The international headquarters of the Piano Guild is at P.O. Box 1807 Austin, TX 78767.

I was awarded the Paderewski Medal during my Junior year of High School. I value it more than my High School degree.


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