RJHS student wins first in state piano, moves to regionals

Ruston resident and seventh grader at Ruston Junior High School Preston Parker took home first place in Louisiana Music Teachers National Association in Junior Piano Performance and will now prepare to compete in Regionals. 

Parker memorized a 12-minute repertoire that he performed in a video for the competition. He will submit the same to the Regional Music Teachers National Association competition. MTNA breaks the country into seven regions and Louisiana falls in South Central.  His competition in South Central will be against the state winners from Texas, Arkansas and Oklahoma.  Should he win the regional, he will go onto face the winners of the other six regions in a LIVE performance competition in Minneapolis, Minnesota, March 26-30, 2022. 

Parker said during the video, he was trying his very best to play the notes right and do all the things his teacher, Denise Cox, instructed him to do. 

“I love to play the piano because it helps me express my emotions,” Parker said. “I also like to compete because I love to win.” 

Parker is the son of Jeff and Shelley and the older brother of John Cole. He also runs cross country for RJHS, plays golf, plays football for RJHS, runs media for Trinity United Methodist Church’s traditional service, plays keyboard for Trinity’s youth band, is active in 4-H and FBLA, is on Trinity’s Youth Leadership Team, runs track in the spring and is a competitive swimmer with Bulldog Aquatic Club. 

His mother, Shelley, said he is very busy, but music has always been a part of her family. 

“Musicality — especially in the form of piano playing — sort of runs in my family,” she said. “Personally, my greatest influence musically was from my Gran who played beautifully for her church up until the last years of her life.  So, because I grew up taking lessons and playing, it is very important to me that both of my boys at least become fluent in reading music. Preston has taken it a step further with his successes, but for me as a parent it is almost as important as reading and math to learn the language of the notes on the page. I truly believe being able to do so not only make a child a better student but also instils discipline that will most certainly be advantageous in life. 

Preston echoed this sentiment, saying he believes music will always be part of his life. 

“I think I’ll still be needed to play the piano at some places,” he said. 

His repertoire for the competition consisted of “Sonatina in F Major, Op.20 No 3 I. Allegro con spirito” by Kulau, “Puck, Opus 71, no. 3” by Grieg, “Tarantella “by Albert Pieczonka, and “Canyons and Waterfalls” by Melody Bober. 

Preston and his family wanted to add special thanks to his teacher, Denise Cox, and Kyle McKaskle at Trinity for helping with the video, and Victoria Fisher Faw from Elon University in North Carolina who served as judge. 

“I’m trying to come up with a better adjective than proud but it is the best adjective to describe how I feel,” Shelley Parker said. “I’m proud though not just of his accomplishments at the piano bench but also because he is a kind-hearted young man that does his best in everything he does.” 

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