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Great State: Music Olympics

OKLAHOMA CITY, OKLAHOMA — Cody Byrum to practice 3 hours per day but he’s a senior at Putnam City North High School.

He had some college auditions this year so he doubled up to six hours per day.

“This year I have another concerto prepared,” he says, “and some Bach to play.”

Cody also has another goal this winter, another gold medal in the Buttram Music Competition.

He says, “The Buttram was the first music competition I ever entered for any instrument. It was a great experience.”

Another high school student competed last year in the Haire Competition for classical guitar.

Collin Holloway was young but still was awarded 3rd place.

His regimen also increased this winter to around 2 hours per day.

That’s beside his regular music studies as a sophomore guitar major at Classen School for Advanced Studies.

“It’s always good to get yourself out there and perform,” he says. “Put yourself out there and show yourself off, I guess.”

There are a half dozen separate music competitions that take place over a single weekend.

The Oklahoma City Orchestra League calls it the Music Olympics.

Competition organizers like Martha Pendleton are impressed with the talent that shows up every February.

“You sit there amazed that students of these ages, some of them are as young as 3rd grade, some maybe even the 2nd grade in the past, that are very accomplished musicians.”

They try not to be intimidated. “I don’t listen to other people, generally,” says Cody. “It makes me nervous.”

“You try to concentrate on your own piece and not get too distracted,” says Collin.

Even if they don’t win, they both insist the pressure of performing like this is good for them.

“It’s a great experience,” says Cody, “especially if you never have.”

Winners get medals and cash prizes, but the best reward might be playing with professional musicians, inspiring someone else with their talent.

That’s why they work so hard.

The Music Olympics competition took place February 23-24.

The winners’ concert is scheduled for March 3 at 6pm on the campus of Oklahoma City University. Admission is free.


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