Pianist practices daily to ‘get stuff done’

Anna Buckley, senior music performance and German major, practices the piano ritualistically.

Anna Buckley, senior music performance and German major, practices the piano ritualistically.

Andrew Ford

In the small rectangle where it’s not quite Taylor Auditorium and not quite Spiva Art Gallery, Anna Buckley is home.

Where the walls are bare and the only furniture is a piano, she practices for hours everyday. Heck, even weekends.

On Monday, two hours before her first class, she’s in the piano practice room, sliding through scales or practicing Johann Sebastian Bach to warm up her fingers.

Once 11 a.m. hits, she’s working one-on-one with her piano instructor, Giuseppe Lupis. Under the energetic and watchful eye of Lupis, she works on perfecting her performance of Austrian composer Franz Schubert’s “Piano Sonata #14.”

Twenty-five minutes in length, the piano solo bounces between lyrical to chordal, melodic to dramatic and fast paced.

Everyday Buckley practices for four hours or more. She doesn’t have a lot of free time, but she doesn’t mind.

“It’s a sacrifice,” Buckley said, “but it’s also what I’m doing with my life right now. It’s part of the deal. If you’re going to perform, if you’re going to play the piano, you have to practice. It’s a fact of life and I enjoy it.”

Born in Lewisville, Texas and raised in Broken Arrow, Okla., Buckley has been playing piano since the age of eight.

At 16, she decided she wanted to shift to harder pieces.

“I knew I wanted to get playing with a larger repertoire, so I tried to get teachers that would play more mature work,” she said.

After an internship in the Oklahoma state capital, Buckley was recruited to Southern by former instructor Cynthia Hukill. When Buckley arrived, Hukill developed a plan for her development and they stuck to it.

“I learned so much from her and really grew,” Buckley said. “She was very strict and that helped.”

Currently, Buckley is preparing for her audition for graduate school at Valdosta State University as well as a performance with the Valdosta Symphony Orchestra. The selective orchestra is composed of Valdosta students, faculty and community members.

She’ll perform on-campus on Feb. 28 and March 1, then in Atlanta on March 2.

While a talented pianist, it’s likely she could have been equally successful in anything she set her mind to.

While many students struggle to find a full hour to study for a test, Buckley applies herself daily, practicing 30 hours a week or more.

“I tend to make (school) it busy. I put in a lot of stuff to do and get a lot of stuff done,” she said.

Getting it done might be an understatement. The senior that expects to graduate in May carries a 4.0 and has never gotten a B.

Buckley says her secret is hard work and staying on top of things.

“I wanted to do my best, so I work hard toward that goal.”

Buckley’s secret keeps her fingers on top of the keys.