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The City Journals

Nine- year-old wins Reflections contest with music composition

Feb 20, 2017 03:03PM ● By Rubina Halwani

Lizzie Noel, a fourth-grader at Spring Lane Elementary, is an award-winning composer. (Sarah Noel)

By: Rubina Halwani | [email protected]
Lizzie Noel’s song, “Counting My Freckles,” is an original composition she entered for the Spring Lane Elementary PTA Reflection competition. She won at her school, council and district level and now is advancing to the state competition. She is 9 years old and in the fourth grade.
“She has played the violin since she was 3 and the piano since she was 7,” said Sarah Noel, Lizzie’s mother. “She was so excited to enter Reflections this year.”
Reflections is an annual contest held every fall, sponsored by the National PTA. Each year has a different theme. The theme for 2016–17 is “What is your story?”
Noel explained it is a light-hearted and upbeat tune and she thought it reminded her of when her daddy counts her freckles. Each time he counts them, there seems to be 10 more than the last time.
“She loves it and giggles every time he starts counting them,” Noel said. Lizzie created the song to share her story of this joyful memory with her father.
Rivka Richman, PTA president at Spring Lane Elementary, said students are given approximately six weeks to work on their entries.
“We had over 60 entries this year,” Richman said.
Lizzie spent several weeks developing her piece for submission.
“She recorded it and added different themes until she was happy with how it sounded,” Noel said.
Reflections began in 1969 by Colorado State PTA President Mary Lou Anderson. Its purpose is to have students explore the arts.
“We have six categories: literature, music composition, photography, visual arts, 3D art and film,” Richman said.
Members of the PTA help to explain and facilitate the Reflections program at their respective schools. According to the Utah PTA website, there are between 10,000 to 13,000 entries submitted annually. Utah is divided into 21 regions, with many further split into councils. Utah has a total of 56 councils. Council and regional leaders work with the Utah PTA to review entries, select winners and award students.
“Our three judges were chosen from our community and two were professional artists. There are very specific rules for entries, one of which for the artist to write a personal statement about their work,” Richman said. “The judges read each statement and weigh their scores on how well it is written, and how the submitted work applies to the Reflection theme.”
According to Noel, Lizzie was one of four music entries from Spring Lane to be chosen for the council level.
The PTA offers two types of awards. The first is the Award of Excellence, given to the contestant with the best entry within a specific category. These recipients can then advance the next level of competition. The other is the Award of Merit to recognize runner-ups. Many schools host event gatherings and offer additional school recognition.
Martin Bates, superintendent of Granite School District, presented Lizzie and others with the Award of Excellence at the Granite District Office on Friday, Jan. 13.
“There were nearly 2,500 entries in Reflections this year in (Granite School District) with only about 60 winning at the district level,” Noel said. “Her accomplishment is really something to be proud of.”
Aside from her musical talent, Lizzie is learning to speak Chinese in the dual-immersion program at Spring Lane Elementary.
“She loves to sing, enjoys doing gymnastics and can often be found reading books in her reading nook. She is also an awesome sister to two little brothers,” Noel said.
Richman mentioned she created a short video about Reflections at Spring Lane Elementary. The video also displays some of Lizzie’s talent, and can be viewed on the PTA website: