Skip to main content
School of Music

Student Q&A: BYU Piano Virtuoso Places Second in National Competition

Tanner Jorden Spent Hundreds of Hours Preparing for National Contest Win

Tanner Jorden, a sophomore studying Piano Performance from Montana placed second in the MTNA Collegiate Young Artist Competition in Reno, Nevada. Jorden won the Northwest regional competition in January, then moved on to the national competition in March. He performed works by Prokofiev, Haydn, Ravel and Chopin.

At 20 years old, Jorden is the youngest MTNA finalist ever sent from BYU. Thousands of participants compete in this piano competition – it’s one of the most competitive events in the country. All of the winners besides Jorden were pursuing doctoral degrees.

Jorden answered a few questions about his preparation and path at BYU.

Tanner Jorden performs at his piano.
Tanner Jorden performs at his piano.
Photo by Scott Holden

Q: How long have you been playing the piano?

Jorden: I’ve been playing the piano for 14 years. I took lessons from neighborhood piano teachers until I was 13, then I began taking lessons from an amazing professor at my local university who really changed the direction of my life.

Q: What has been the most challenging part of piano performance?

Jorden: The most challenging part of studying piano performance is balancing classes with practicing. I try to practice at least 5 hours a day, but that makes it difficult to do well in my classes. I also teach and accompany other musicians and the combination of all of this can be overwhelming.

Q: How has BYU shaped your ability as a performer?

Jorden: What has shaped my musicianship the most at BYU is my studies with Professor Scott Holden as well as my work with other musicians. Learning how to make deliberate decisions as well as using intuition in making music has been on my mind a lot.

It has been inspiring to see how all the professors here relate the music we study to the gospel. I feel like understanding the gospel can give us a deeper understanding of music and vice versa.

Q: How has piano performance at BYU prepared you for your future goals?

Jorden: Studying piano performance at BYU has helped put me on a path to become the best pianist, performer, and teacher that I can become. Teachers here are always willing to spend extra time for those who put in extra work, and that is critical for those who have high goals. The professors will do what is necessary on their part to allow us to achieve our goals.