Local student attains Master Class

By Eleanor Guerrero
Thursday, August 9, 2018

Courtesy photo

Madeline Muirhead, 8, of Red Lodge, has already attained Master Class status and received honorable mention in a competition in her class of 7-12.

Many students may work for a decade to attend a master class. Madeline Muirhead, of Red Lodge, was invited to and participated in the Colorado Piano Festival competition and masterclass and doesn’t even have a decade of life She is eight years old with stunning ability. The events were held on Friday, July 27.

Muirhead held her own gaining honorable mention in a field of about 50 peers, aged 7-12, in the elementary division. She is a whirlwind of talent with a preference “for the minor keys.”

It shouldn’t be so surprising, since she started singing opera at 2, has been studying piano since 4 and composed her first classical piece at 5. She combined “Ode to Joy” with the theme for Star Wars’ Darth Vader: “The Emperor’s March.” “She called it “Ode to Darth Vader,” explained her mother, Jenny.

“We’d put the radio on going to and from Billings,” says Jenny of her daughter at

2. By the time they were returning to Red Lodge Madeline would have the song memorized.

She has a natural ear and played all her pieces in the Colorado competition by ear. The master, Lei Wang encourages her to learn to read music. She will be doing just that under that tutelage of Rocky Mountain College voice Professor Lynell Kruckenberg. Kruckenberg had to stop teaching her other students due to the demand of her work at the college but vows she’ll teach Madeline “into her 20’s!” Jenny attributes it to Madeline’s strong desire to learn. “She goes and practices each day by herself. Sometimes I have to pull her off of it.”

“They have a very special bond,” said Jenny.

The competition had a 1st, 2nd, 3rd place and two honorable mentions. Madeline has been studying piano since age four and this was her first competition.  She played a composition by George Frideric Handel and one of her own compositions.

“In a small town,” explained Jenny, "there is no bench mark to where she is competitively." While neither she nor her husband, Mike, have musical experience, they wanted to give her every advantage she should have. “If she’s still with it and still loves it (when she’s older), we want to give her an edge.” So they started searching for competitions and when they found the Colorado competition and Master Class they sent in two videos of her performing. The invitation soon followed.

Madeline is partial to Mozart. Her mother and father, Mike, took her to Paris in May to immerse her in as many musical events as possible. She went to hear the French Symphony and a classical pianist perform. She found Paris, “exciting!”

Like a little girl, her compositions are often about her local surroundings. One is called “The Bug Suite.” She detailed its components. “There are fire ants, Black Widows, Lady Bugs, Mexican fireflies and aphids!” The music conveys each one and “I have a synthesizer. I like to go off on different sounds!” she exclaimed. There is also a “Sky Suite” and she will add a “Bird Suite” in the future.

Madeline earned the money to buy a recorder and would also like to learn the violin. She played at her Kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Purcell’s, son’s wedding to earn some more. She would also like to learn the accordion.

Her inspiration comes from “listening to classical songs. They take off from that,” she says.

Her mother recently set up a recital at home and she played 7 or 8 pieces for friends and family. Her grandfather, Kerry Boggio, a longtime mainstay in town with his brother Ken in their brass band, Alte Kameraden, advises, “Keep it fun!”

For the future, more recitals will be planned. For now, Madeline says, “With ‘Miss Lynell’, I’m going to learn to read music and work on a new piece!”

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The Carbon County News

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