The Hidden Soul

February 26, 2009
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Anticipation thickened in the hall as he lingered his hands above the keys, waiting 'then he struck. The heavy chord echoed throughout the music hall loudly announcing the entrance of a masterpiece. He played like a brute. Short. Full. Heavy. Piercingly. Then in the midst of the passage, the chords morphed into long, continuous notes; the poetic melody flowing lightly through the air. The sound became softer and softer until all that could be heard was a whisper, a little tease to the climax that had yet to come. I leaned forward, straining to hear the secrets he murmured. But before I could, those fingers became children. Hopping. Leaping. Skipping. As they danced, their moves became more frantic. They were bouncing, running, dashing, darting ' suddenly he slammed down the chord, giving the climax a dramatic flair. The pianist had become the Pied Piper and I, like the children, had become entranced.
I had never heard Classical music played in such a way. My parents have tried to foster an understanding for this old genre, even convincing me to learn the piano. Studying the instrument was fun, but playing Classical music was like following the directions on how to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Play all the notes, follow the dynamics, add some phrasing and voila ' you have music. Listening to Classical music was even more of a bore than playing it. No matter how much Beethoven, Mozart and Vivaldi my parents made me listen to in the house and car, I could not enjoy it.
The ignorant belief that I held followed me to the Nathaniel Patch Competition I attended during middle school. I was confident that the prize would be mine. My playing was flawless; however the judges thought differently. 'You can do more,' they said. More? There is no 'more.'
But listening to the pianist, I realized there was 'more.' Beneath the black ink was a world full of color and emotions. What he played was real music. Real music that touched not only the mind, but the soul. If I just sit down and take the time to look, I will be able to see beneath the surface. And I did. Two years later, I won my first piano competition.
I took my insight beyond the music world. As I tried to look beyond the surface of not only my pieces but also people, I fell in love with the human psyche. Our complex minds fascinated me and I found myself wanting to learn more. Look more.
The pianist slowed down as he came nearer to the end, dragging out the inevitable. Taking a little pause, he struck the last chord, his hands sitting on the piano, letting the sound soak into the music hall. Silence reigned for a beat, but was immediately overtaken with thunderous applause. Lang Lang stood from the bench taking a bow with a smile on his face. I stood up with the crowd, inspired by this young pianist had found what many adults had not: the hidden soul.





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