Stillman College Junior Wins HBCU Piano Competition


Mary Sood


Christopher Dixon, a junior majoring in piano performance at Stillman College in Tuscaloosa, AL, recently won first place and a $500 cash award in the 2013 James A. Hefner HBCU (Historically Black College and University) Piano Competition at Tennessee State University in Nashville, TN.  Christopher, who played emotional renditions of Beethoven’s Sonata opus 14 no 1 allegro and Gershwin’s Three Preludes for the competition, did not realize that he had a musical gift until he began middle school at Dunbar Creative and Performing Arts Magnet School in Mobile, AL. Unlike many pianists, who begin taking lessons before their fifth birthday, Christopher had a relatively late start. Making up for lost time has required diligence and dedication.  He credits Dr. Hye-Sook Jung, an assistant professor in the Department of Fine Arts at Stillman, for helping him to take his talent to the next level.

“Stillman is where I first started training on a professional level. I’ve learned a lot more technique and ways to play effectively since my freshman year.  I’ve also started working much harder. In my freshman year, I really didn’t have good practice habit.  Now I practice a minimum of four hours per day—sometimes five and sometimes six,” says Christopher, who hopes to eventually earn a doctorate degree and become a well-rounded musician who accompanies, teaches on a college level and performs.

Dr. Jung, who is pleased with his improvement, says, “In his freshman year, I focused primarily on helping him with note reading, rhythmic counting, and some foundational technique.”  His progress was initially slow, says Dr. Jung.  However, once Christopher began practicing more, he advanced rapidly and his personality began to come through when he performed.

“His strength of piano playing is the beautiful tone,” says Dr. Jung, who believes that Christopher’s  compassion for others is felt in his music.

Founded in 1876, Stillman is a private, liberal arts institution, making a huge impact on the lives of the students it serves and the greater community. Stillman provides an intellectually elite, high-quality education for a diverse student body.

The College enlists a dedicated faculty with 92% holding terminal degrees. Additionally, a student-to-faculty ratio of 15:1 guarantees that students receive the very best in instruction and preparation. Leading the way in the acquisition and use of technology, Stillman offers 20th century tradition with 21st century instruction.

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