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Amy Talbot is a senior in the piano pedagogy program at Weber State University. During the 16 years she has played piano, Talbot has participated in many service concerts, started her own piano teaching studio, nearly completed her bachelor’s degree, and performed internationally during a religious mission.
Talbot has been under the tutelage of Ralph Van der Beek since starting the pedagogy program in 2008. Between fall 2011 and spring 2013, Talbot took a hiatus from her WSU studies to participate in a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. She spent 18 months proselytizing in Sweden for her church.
Upon arriving in Sweden, Talbot faced many challenges associated with her role as an LDS missionary. “Not only was there a language barrier, but there was a cultural barrier,” she said. “I was still learning Swedish, so it was very hard to converse. I used piano as my way to communicate.”
During her 18-month stay in the Nordic country, Talbot had many opportunities to perform. “I was performing nearly on a weekly basis,” she said. “I performed in churches, homes, senior centers, event halls . . . Basically wherever there was a piano and people to listen, I would perform.”
Talbot and another female missionary performed a total of eight major concerts around the country of Sweden. Talbot said her concerts typically involved classical, Swedish and religious-themed music. Her largest concert occurred during the height of Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign. The concert was filmed by a local news agency that interviewed Talbot and her fellow performer about the culture of the LDS church and about the election.
Once her service period expired, Talbot returned home to Utah to continue her studies at WSU. In addition to her studies, Talbot volunteers at McKay-Dee Hospital. After auditioning for the hospital’s service program, Talbot was accepted and now performs in the main entrance of the building every first, third and fifth Friday of every month, 3:30-5 p.m.
“Music is a healing thing,” Talbot said. “People have come up to me and told me, ‘That was my favorite song and I really needed to hear that, because I’ve been really nervous for these test results.’”
Talbot is set to graduate with her bachelor’s degree come fall 2014. Upon graduation, she intends to expand her studio and continue performing in service situations.
“There is something very personal about music and about how I express myself through music,” Talbot said. “Music provides me with the opportunity to share a piece of myself and to get to know someone. It makes an instant connection with other people that breaks down initial barriers. I just want to share this amazing thing I love with others and hopefully give to others some of the happiness I get from it.”