Delmar teen to compete at Eastman piano competition

Recent LaSalle grad will head to Julliard in the fall

The average American teenager spends more than 30 hours per week online. But Ryan Reilly spends even more behind the keyboard in his Delmar homethe 18-year-old spends an average of six hours every day practicing the piano.

That tenacity has paid off for the recent LaSalle Institute grad. In the fall, he'll be heading to New York City to study at the enormously exclusive Julliard School, which generally accepts less than 200 students per year.

And in a few weeks, he'll be sitting down at the University of Rochester's Eastman School of Music to compete against other exceptional young pianists in the Eastman Young Artists International Piano Competition. There, he'll face off against 22 other young pianists hailing from the U.S., China, Taiwan, Korea and Japan.

Taking on the cream of the crop doesn't worry Reilly, though. He's been entering competitions since middle school, after all.

With competitions you never really know what will happen," he said. "I'm just going to give it my best."'

Reilly's journey started long before his recent achievements. He sat down to his first piano lesson at the age of four, at the Music Studio in Clifton Park. He stayed with his first teacher, Aniko Szokody, until his junior year of high school.

Szokody recognized Reilly's skill around the time he entered elementary school and began giving him additional assignments, then individual lessons, said Kendall Reilly, Ryan's mother.

"She took great care of him," she said. "I may be his birth mother, but she was his musical mother."

"We're incredibly proud, his dedication is absolutely astounding," she continued. "He's worked incredibly hard for a very long time...he set a goal for himself when he was in sixth grade, and he achieved it."

Reilly is a great deal more modest about his accolades, which include study in Julliard's pre-college program. He's traveled to the city every Saturday for the past two years to practice with a private teacher and study music courses.

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