Hard work, dedication lands Richland grad top piano honor

Tuesday, September 8, 2020
Kate Wyman sits with the Federation of Music 90 Point President’s Cup.
Josh Ayers photo

When 2019 Richland graduate Kate Wyman left for the University of Missouri in the fall of 2019 she had a piece of unfinished business left at home. The clock was ticking for her to finish that business as well.

The business she had left unfinished was the point requirements to earn the Federation of Music 90 Point President’s Cup, the highest award given by the Federation of Music, and it had to be completed by the time she reached the age of 19. The gold cup was earned at the National Federation of Music Festival this past February, which Wyman said she has attended every year since third or fourth grade.

Wyman sat at 82 points when she left for college, just eight shy of the gold cup. Wyman turned 18 in July of 2019 and according to the Federation of Music rules an individual cannot acquire any more points once they are 19.

Wyman’s instructor, Mary Ruth Boone, said few get to 90 points because of the maximum points, which can be earned a year, and Boone said every time you perform for the judges at the festival you have to earn nothing but superior scores, which is the highest score, to get to the 90-point plateau.

Boone said anyone who participates in the junior festivals is eligible to work toward the cup. The awards go in 15-point increments at 15, 45, 60, 75 and finally the 90 Point President’s Cup.

Points are earned at the music festival. Students will perform for the judges and they are graded on their performance and awarded points. Wyman explained that you perform solos and can earn extra points by performing concertos.

Boone explained that a student can earn a maximum of five points a year. However when the students reach high school they, in addition to a piano solo, can choose to perform a concerto by a classical composer, which is 500 measures long for additional points. Wyman did this every year she was eligible to do so.

Boone said Wyman was selected as best vocalist of the day many times at the festival, as well as best pianist. At the festival Wyman competes in District 6 in Missouri, which stretches from Jackson south to the Missouri/Arkansas line and west to West Plains.

“I told her if she wanted to come back from college she could,” said Boone. “We would just do the concerto and really wouldn’t have lessons. We would just get together and play when she could come.”

“She is the most self-motivated student I have ever had,” said Boone. “She has never had a lesson where, and I have many of these a week, I have to jump-start the student. (The student was not prepared for class with material to be completed since the last lesson).”

Boone spoke of Wyman’s dedication.

“It is very refreshing to have someone like Kate,” said Boone. “Her senior year was so busy with school work and extra (activities).”

Boone explained that Wyman was gone a lot on trips with clubs at school, as well as looking at colleges that she was only at school sometimes two days a week. Boone said even though Wyman had to make up her school work she found time for piano.

Wyman has been using her musical talents most of her life, inspired by her musical family.

“I have been singing ever since I can remember, because my dad’s side of the family, they always sing in church,” said Wyman, the daughter of David and Carrie Wyman. “That is where I started out singing in church, then I started taking piano lessons in the fourth grade with Mrs. Boone. I did piano and voice lessons and I have been doing it ever since.

“I did piano solos and then I started doing concertos, which is a duet you do with your teacher but it is a lot longer than a regular solo,” said Wyman.

Wyman said Boone informed her that although she was in college she was still eligible because she had not turned 19 yet. Boone told Wyman if she did a concerto and received a superior, she could earn the 90-point trophy.

“I decided to do it because I was like, I am so close, why not,” said Wyman. “It would be cool to have and really show off my work.”

Wyman spoke of the musical talent in her family that inspired her journey into music.

“My dad’s side of the family, the Wyman family, they pretty much all sing,” said Wyman. “My grandpa is actually in the gospel quartet, “The Wyman Family Quartet.” My mom doesn’t really sing but my grandma on my mom’s side plays piano and my aunt on my mom’s side plays piano.”

Wyman laughed as she explained that her parents had strongly encouraged her to start learning the piano. Once she started playing she said she loved it and kept with it.

The fact that Richland High School does not currently have a choir program did not deter Wyman. She wanted to continue to participate in music so she participated as an individual in all-district choir and was an alternate on the all-state choir her junior year. As a senior she was a member of the all-state choir. The band director at Richland acted as the choir director and signed Wyman up for district and state choir tryouts.

“I also participated in music festival where you do solos,” said Wyman. “I also did district and state contests from ninth grade to senior year.”

Wyman has taken her love of music to Mizzou where along with her major in journalism she is also majoring in vocal music. Wyman performs in the women’s choir at Mizzou, although she in unsure how the choir will be handled with the COVID-19 situation.

Fitting in practice for another festival was not easy. As a double major Wyman was taking 18 credit hours a semester, as extracurricular activities with her sorority and being involved with the outreach program.

As a music major she has access to practice rooms in the music building on campus, as well as a piano in her sorority house. She would use practice rooms between her other classes.

While Wyman was home during the winter break she practiced the concerto with Boone.

Boone made a recording of herself playing her part of the concerto, so Wyman could practice it while at college. Wyman said freshmen at Mizzou are required to stay in dorm rooms. The dorm where she stayed only had one practice room and was usually full. To get around this Wyman practiced late at night after everyone else was done.

“It was amazing. It felt really accomplished,” said Wyman of finally earning the award she worked so long for. “I was proud of myself. I know my piano teacher was proud, my family was proud and that made it so much more special for me because I knew it meant a lot to them, as much as it meant to me.”