Campus Scene

From L to R: Kate Poulton, Ran Duan, Cassie Taylor, Lindsey Wright, Aiting Gao, and Desiree Gonzales

From L to R: Kate Poulton, Ran Duan, Cassie Taylor, Lindsey Wright, Aiting Gao, and Desiree Gonzales (Photo by Brittany Gray)

Piano Forte

The Ladies in Red, a performing group established through the University of Utah’s Piano Department, travels across the U.S. to bring awareness of the need for music education in elementary schools and raise funds for the U’s Piano Outreach Program, which offers piano classes teaching the fundamentals of music as part of after-school programs in elementary schools throughout Salt Lake City. Enrollment in the classes is voluntary—and popular. Cassie Taylor BMu’05 DMA’13, director of the Outreach Program, notes the unique and important opportunities that the program provides for all participants. “Our piano classes train U students in teaching environments that prepare them for job placement and post-graduate music careers. The classes also help young students develop self-confidence and discover hidden talents, while reducing truancy and poor behavior and improving classroom performance.”

The students learn music at an unbelievable rate and revel in their achievements, as well as the wonderful teachers. The instructors, in turn, adore the students and are excited to provide them with an opportunity that might otherwise be unavailable to them. Graduate teaching assistant (and member of the Ladies) Desiree Gonzales, a native of Mexico, notes: “Backman Elementary has a high number of Latino students, and they are my pride! I want them to experience all of the great things I have been exposed to while studying music here in the U.S. Music has not only made me a more sensitive human being, but it has also taught me about patience, perseverance, and hard work. In short, it has made me a better person.”

Learn more about the Ladies and the U’s Piano Outreach Program on their School of Music webpage here, and follow the group on Facebook here. Susan Duehlmeier BFA’70 MFA’73, chair of the U’s Piano Department, serves as the advisor for the Ladies in Red and books them for events. For more information, contact her at or (801) 581-7133.

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