2018-2019 Audition Results (Piano)


Ray Ushikubo
Curtis Institute of Music, BM, Class of 2022

“Studying with Mr. Shihor not only has allowed me to pursue my dreams, but also changed my life. His ever-growing attention to style, precision, and delicacy has brought to my music colors that I would have never imagined if it were not for his unprecedented teaching. I cannot thank him enough for the nine years of guiding me and my music and for making it possible for me to get accepted to the Curtis Institute of Music!”

Albert Cano Smit
The Juilliard School, MM, Class of 2020

“It’s very hard to explain with words how grateful I am to Mr. Shihor for the past four years studying with him. There are too many things that in my opinion stand out in his teaching, but I think I should at least mention these two. The first one is his unconditional belief in the student’s abilities and his commitment to make the most of those abilities no matter what it takes. Often he believed in me more than I did myself, and kept demanding and encouraging the highest level in pieces without exception. This is grounded on the second aspect – he can justify that belief because he knows how to make that potential a reality through an extraordinary attention to detail, ear and musical intuition. The most remarkable thing which I’ve noticed, however, is his ability to point out exactly the things that I need but that I’m not yet hearing in the music, to let that piece develop to a next level that I could not imagine before the lesson, and that sometimes I was not even aiming for to start with, because I didn’t know it was possible for me. I just didn’t know how to reach that level and he helped me every time without fail. His commitment before specific important events (such as the competitions I’ve entered) has been incredible, giving many, many hours a week that I needed to be as prepared as possible. As a result, I always surpassed my expectations in those events. If I look back to those four years in a bigger scale I can see how much Mr. Shihor has helped me find and develop my technique, my ear and my musical and pianistic personality. On top of that he is a wonderful human being and mentor, a very kind person and someone whom I feel I can always turn to. The value of these four years is incredibly important in my life!”

Jimmy Shen
The Juilliard School, BM, Class of 2022

“Three years of study with Mr.Shihor has totally changed my understanding and increase my love of music dramatically. He patiently guide me with his wonderful musical ideas and concepts.The improvements and achievements I made during these three years are way beyond my imagination. It is truly an amazing experience studying with Mr.Shihor. Without his patience, sensitive and delicate teaching and guidance. It’s not possible for me to get accepted into my dream school, Juilliard. I am extremely thankful to him for all the works and effort he has done for me.”

Milli McFall
Royal Academy of Music, BM, Class of 2022

“I started taking lessons with Mr. Shihor about 3 years ago and am eternally grateful because I have grown tremendously. This September, I will be attending the Royal Academy of Music with a full scholarship. One of my biggest insecurities when I first started studying with Mr. Shihor, was my technique. Within in my first lesson, he already corrected the way I sat at the piano which changed the amount and the quality of sound I produced…Mr. Shihor pushed me to learn a lot of repertoire, without over stressing me. He has helped me reach my full potential through support and honesty. Mr. Shihor is such a positive force, I have never feared that he would be angry with how I played. Disappointed? Yes, but I strongly believe that is important to one’s growth. I never want to disappoint him with my playing; when you have teacher that is effectively doing their job, you want to do nothing less then please them. They don’t have to yell at you or be mean to you to get you to practice because if they are doing it right, you will naturally want to meet their standards. Studying with Mr. Shihor has opened so many opportunities for me, has helped me find the sound I want to create, has raised my confidence in my playing, and has shown that I am capable. I am so thankful for Mr. Shihor.”

Kamilla Bendersky
Boston Conservatory, BM, Class of 2022

“Mr. Shihor is a wonderful, warm and understanding teacher. I definitely feel improvements in my playing, especially enhancement in my confidence as a musician. Before I moved to LA and started my lesson with Mr. Shihor, I was studying in Moscow, where I’ve always had very strict and cold teachers and developed extreme anxiety playing in front of people. Mr. Shihor was able to generate a very friendly and relaxed atmosphere, where, a little by little, I came out of my shell and now have no problems playing in public! In addition, Mr. Shihor was very helpful with my college application including pre-screening video recordings and advising regarding schools and teachers. With Mr. Shihor’s guidance and mentorship, I got accepted to all of the schools I’ve auditioned for! I’ve also received scholarships covering 75%-80% of the tuition! I am very grateful that I had an opportunity to study with such a great teacher!”

Claire Yeo Successful pianist at ory shihor Acadmey

Claire Yeo
San Francisco Conservatory, BM, Class of 2021

“I started taking lessons with professor Shihor in 2015, in preparation for my graduation recital for my undergraduate degree. After my first few lessons with professor Shihor, I started noticing major changes in my practice and performance. Furthermore, I was growing more confident with each concert I played. I decided to apply to graduate school in 2016 and knew that studying with professor Shihor would be the best way for me to feel comfortable and confident with the audition process. Professor Shihor really took the time to help me through this process, starting from the repertoire selection that not only challenged me but also showcased my personality and voice. He would take the time to sit with me and talk about which schools I was hoping to attend, what I was hoping to get out of each school, and which school and faculty member would be the best fit for me in my progress. At the end of this process, I received acceptance letters from all the schools I auditioned at, but more importantly, I felt confident in my voice as a musician. Studying with professor Shihor was an important step in my career and I am very grateful for his guidance. 

Victoria Frances Successful pianist at ory shihor Acadmey

Victoria Frances Young
Peabody Conservatory, BM, Class of 2021

“Mr. Shihor is a sensitive musician, an attentive teacher, and a compassionate human being who truly cares for every one of his students. Our lessons were filled with discussions about style and interpretation, and for me each one was an eye-opening revelation that drew me closer to the music. Students who study with him may expect to simply improve their piano-playing, but instead find themselves on a wondrous journey of discovery and artistry.”

Kevin Knowles Successful pianist at ory shihor Acadmey

Kevin Knowles
University of Miami Frost School of Music, BM, 2021

“Studying under the mentorship of Professor Ory Shihor was a privilege in more ways than I can count. Not only did he educate me in the art of piano playing itself, he also provided me with crucial guidance during the college application process; perhaps the most demanding, pivotal and ultimately rewarding period of a music student’s life. His mentorship provided me with the clarity to prioritize the different elements of my application, with the structure to prepare everything as efficiently as possible, and with the tools and skills to execute them once the time came.

He was able to shed light on many meaningful and subtle considerations I would not have realized otherwise. For example, he helped me reach the decision that it would be in my best interest to take a gap year between high school and college in order to fully immerse myself in my musical endeavors before applying to school. A decision that went against the grain, and an opportunity I would have otherwise felt pressured into passing up. Thus, he opened my mind to applying the invaluable life skill of detecting differences, both large and subtle, that must be considered and carefully weighed during life decisions.

Additionally, although I did acquire numerous beneficial practice techniques from Mr. Shihor, the structural elements he provided ventured far beyond just pianistic methodology. He opened my eyes to the fact that to truly succeed during the college application process, I had to organize myself psychologically and emotionally as well as pianistically. For example, Mr. Shihor helped me realize that repertoire which aligned with my temperament, and that worked as a cohesive whole, was the most effective audition technique for showcasing my strengths as a musician.

Even beyond musicianship, his mentorship helped me dearly in my personal life; through which he gave me the tools to broaden and refine my skillset with not simply techniques, but mindsets that allowed me to reach my full potential before, during and even well after the auditions had finished. These included how to take command of my breathing, stage presence, and integration of my physical, emotional and musical focus. However, perhaps the most poignant among these lessons was how to face failure with grace. Learning to treat failure as an opportunity for honing the craft of self-evaluation was one of the most meaningful things I learned from Mr. Shihor.

Furthermore, another quality that I truly appreciated was not only how intensive but how accessible and supportive his mentorship was as well. At a time when I was overwhelmed by a seemingly endless ocean of applications, Mr. Shihor not only helped me to develop a command over the piano but a command over my practice habits, self-confidence, and depth of understanding as a musician. As a pedagogue, he maintained the same learning-conducive principles with utmost care and diligence. Every lesson with Mr. Shihor was an extraordinary learning experience in every possible way. I can now say with confidence that I have been accepted into the schools and studios of my dreams, and I would not have been able to do so without Mr. Shihor’s tireless guidance, mentorship and belief in me as a student. I am eternally grateful to him for all that he has helped me with.


Albert Cano Smit
The Juilliard School, MM, Class of 2020 

  • 1st Prize, Walter W. Naumburg International Piano Competition, 2017 ($10,000 cash prize + a commissioned work to be debut in the Carnegie Zenkel Hall in 2018)
  • Finalist, Montreal International Piano Competition, 2017
  • Medalist Prize, Hilton Head International Piano Competition, 2016
  • Semi-finalist, Paloma O’shea Santander International Piano Competition, 2015

Ray Ushikubo
Curtis Institute of Music, BM, Class of 2022

  • Winner, National YoungArts Foundation Competition, 2018
  • 1st Prize, Hilton Head International Piano Competition, 2017
  • Winner, Aspen Music Festival Piano Concerto Competition, 2016
  • 1st Prize, Steinway Concerto Competition at the Colburn Music Academy Piano Festival, 2015
  • Davidson Fellow Laureate (scholarship of $50,000), 2014
  • Young Artists Piano Prize, Mondavi Young Artists Competition, 2013
Carey Byron

Carey Byron
Colburn Music Academy

  • Young Scholar, Lang Lang International Music Foundation, Class of 2018-2020
Gabrielle Successful pianist at ory shihor Acadmey

Gabrielle Chou
The Juilliard School

  • 2nd Prize, Bösendorfer and Yamaha USASU International Piano Competition, 2013
Yi Chen Feng Successful pianist at ory shihor Acadmey

Yi Chen Feng
Peabody Conservatory

  • 1st Prize, Virginia Waring International Piano Competition, 2015
Zihui Song Successful pianist at ory shihor Acadmey

Zihui Song
Colburn Conservatory of Music

  • 3rd Prize, James Mottram International Piano Competition in the UK, 2014
  • Semi-finalist. Paloma O’shea Santander International Piano Competition, 2012
  • 3rd Prize, Piano Campus International Piano Competition, 2012