Avery Smith Hits All The Right Notes


Zoe Arntsen, Staff Writer

Avery Smith started piano with no idea she’d eventually be Highland’s Sterling Scholar for  Instrumental Music. At eight, started taking piano lessons with her aunt, but it wasn’t love at first cord. She began with lessons once every three weeks. Now its one of the biggest parts of her life.

As she spends everyday practicing her playing is described as a blessing by her family. Even with her early, infrequent lessons Smith’s natural talent for piano shown through. She drastically improved with little effort.

At the beginning of the pandemic, Smith switched teachers, which is when she truly discovered her love of music and her instrument and then she started to really apply herself. These past two years her musicality and technique have grown so much.

“Her new teacher breathed new life into her playing and she advanced dramatically,” Avery’s mother, Natalie Smith said.  “This is when she truly began to love playing the piano.”

Smith’s teacher, Catherine, is her most influential role model for piano. Her small home piano studio and passion for piano inspired Smith’s desire to step into a similar role in her future. One involves teaching piano lessons of her own, training her own children as well as other kids to love piano like her piano teacher has done for her.

For anyone who’ve tried to improve with an instrument, the only way is to practice. Though sometimes that’s the hardest thing to do. Smith sneaks in her rehearsing throughout the day and pushes through late-night practices. The huge time commitment advanced piano is, requires solutions such as Smith’s. Especially with her busy schedule.

Between her job as a head lifeguard, her family, her friends, being a National Honor Society officer and piano lessons, Smith still manages to use every bit of her time productively.

“She is always trying a new hobby or skill. An example of this is when she was in middle school, she decided she wanted to learn German,” Natalie said. “I came home to find the entire house labeled with German words.”

On top of all that she plays as an accompanist for Highland’s instrumental music program. Her involvement doesn’t end there. Smith loves theater so much she’ll be playing with Murray City in their production of “Sister Act” this summer.

Her decision to become Sterling Scholar for instrumental music stems form an intense love of music and her desire to represent Highland. Smith wanted to show the judges how incredible Highland’s music program really is and how it furthered her path with piano.

The preparation to become Sterling Scholar was defiantly the hardest part for Smith, putting together the massive portfolio and getting through the interviews is a part of become a Sterling Scholar that is often overlooked. Another aspect being the excitement to learn which of her peers became sterling scholars for other subjects.

Smith plans to stay involved with piano, after graduation. In the fall she’s attending BYU. To keep piano in her life she’ll continue to accompany other musicians and to play in pit orchestras. And eventually start teaching her kids.

“I teach some piano lessons on my own and I really love helping little kids learn the piano and grow to love it, watching their musicality develop,” Smith said. “So definitely on the side teaching a little bit.”

Over these 10 years, Avery has tackled and mastered many incredibly difficult pieces. “The Fantasy Impromptu,” composed by Chopin, has been her most recent triumph. She continued to excel in piano, filling her home and school with Debussy, Rachmaninov and Beethoven.

A home filled with music will likely always be part of Smith’s life