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Graves Academy Spring Recital

Posted by: tdt -

Graves Guitar Studio held their 2nd Annual Spring Recital Friday, May 22 at the XIT Rangers Clubhouse, with 24 students performing. From left to right: Front Row - Corbin Byrd, Brendan Herring, A.J. Riffe, Jagger Puga, Ashley Skalsky, Charlie Rowell, Reese Montgomery; Second Row - Marisa Mariscal, J.J. Brown, Iyan Perez, Shay Hess, Ty Hess, Kali Dennis, Letha Byrd, Jeremy Womble; Back row - Instructor Aaron Graves, Caitlyn Skalsky, Madison Gaines, Mandolin Graves, Grace King, Brenton Strafuss, Blakely Strafuss, Brooklyn Strafuss, and Allen Thompson.


By Robin Scott

    The Graves Academy guitar and piano instruction held its Second Annual Spring Recital on Friday evening, May 22nd.  The event was held at the XIT Ranger’s Clubhouse on FM 281.  Aaron Graves, owner and instructor, presided as Master of Ceremonies.

    The evening not only showed how much the students have learned in the past year, it demonstrated that anyone may have the ability to learn to play guitar.  The youngest student, a five-year-old named Jagger Puga and the oldest student over sixty-something, Allen Thompson, were proof that with dedication and practice, anyone can play.  Graves stated, “People confuse talent and ability. Some people think they don’t have a talent for music and therefore never try to learn. But everyone has the ability to make music. It’s a part of human nature. Ability just has to be developed. And when ability is developed, talent begins to surface. And that’s the case with each of the 24 students who performed Friday.”

    Aaron Graves has been teaching music in Dalhart and Stratford for three years and the academy specializes in guitar and piano lessons.  Guitar includes both acoustic and electric.  Students begin preparing for the recital in January and Graves noted, “Students work hard, especially those that play as a part of a group.”

    This year nine students from the 2008 recital returned to play in the 2009 recital.  The first time recital students received certificates of recognition and the students who played in both 2008 and 2009 received medals. The 2009 recital opened with classic 70s and 80s rock covers and included country songs, folk songs, blues, and classical guitar.

    Guitarists for the evening included, Corbin Byrd, Brendan Herring, A.J. Riffe, Jagger Puga, Ashley Skalsky, Charlie Rowell, Reese Montgomery, J.J. Brown, Iyan Perez, Shay Hess, Ty Hess, Kali Dennis, Letha Byrd, Jeremy Womble, Mandolin Graves, and Allen Thompson, and triplets Brenton, Brooklyn and Blakely Strafuss who played a beautiful three-part rendition of “Pachelbel’s Canon” as well as each playing a solo.  

    Pianists included, two sisters who played a piano and guitar duet were Ashley and Caitlyn Skalsky, the first performance of its kind for the academy.   Caitlyn was on piano and Ashley on guitar.  Marisa Mariscal, Madison Gaines, Grace King and Brendan Herring also performed piano solos.

    Most of the students receive instruction once each week, while practicing daily at home.  Their instruction will continue throughout the summer as the academy continues year long.  Graves commented, “There is nothing like watching a music student blossom and develop. I am proud of each student who got up there in front of everyone and performed.”

    Mr. George Chambers of KXIT radio graciously donated some behind the scenes equipment and the XIT Rangers lent the academy their top quality PA system.  Additional help in making the evening successful were the parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, brothers, sisters and anyone else who helped the recital participants practice and stay focused.   More information about Graves Academy may be found at or at 249.1830.

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