I always thought the pinnacle of my piano career would be playing Beethoven's FurElise. One of my first memories is hearing my Cantonese grandmother, Pa, playthis piece, and I distinctly remember deciding that to play it would be mygreatest achievement. I began lessons in first grade, and during each practicesession I would grit my teeth and think, One day I will play as well asPa.
Music has always been a bond between me and my grandmother. It is ourbridge between the two languages that separate us. Practicing piano for her wasso easy in comparison with my mother, whose high expectations were a constantburden. With Pa's monthly visits came a rejuvenation of the spirit, but afteryears of lessons, I began to tire of my goal. I finally let my secret out: I toldmy piano teacher I wanted to play Fur Elise no matter how difficult it was or howlong it took. To my surprise, she didn't refuse. She laughed and exclaimed that Ishould have already learned the piece, since my skill level had surpassed it longago. With glittering eyes, she dug through her pile of music and pulled out thepiece that had been my inspiration over the years. She gently set it on the standin front of me and, as I began to play it with ease, I thought of how this piecehad been the ultimate purpose behind all my piano lessons. But it had also beenso much more - it had served as the common interest between me and mygrandmother.
Pa's visits have become more infrequent since we movedfurther from her home and I have treasured the time I spend with her at the pianoeven more. Before each of her visits, my practicing becomes more frequent andmuch more enjoyable because I know that when I play a piece for her, whether FurElise or another, it is the time when we are in harmony.
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.