Practice Makes Perfect ... Yeah, Right This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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     Practice makes perfect. That’s what they say, and I believed them - until one day. One day when I was a nervous wreck. One day for which I had prepared for what seemed like years.

Dad came in to wake me up much too early for a Sunday. I groaned and rolled over as he reminded me this was my big day, the day of my sonatina competition. How could I not have known? I had been practicing the sonatina over and over until late in the night. The song was so etched in my brain that I even dreamed about it. I couldn’t even walk past the piano without sitting to play it.

This was my first competition, so my piano teacher had me do every technique ever invented to try to help me. We would spend my entire lesson on it, working out the imperfections. By the Saturday night before the competition, I had no worries.

As I got dressed, my sense of ease stayed with me. It sat with me on the long car ride, and sprinted with me into the building through the pouring rain. I was amazed at how comfortable I felt and told myself it was simply because I was ready.

I was ready through the endless wait to play, and I was relieved when I walked out of the judge’s room. I knew I had knocked them dead.

Even though I was confident, I wouldn’t stay and listen to the results; I knew I had played my best, and if that didn’t win, I wasn’t very good. I sat outside on a swing and waited. Finally, I went back inside to find my dad grinning.

“You got Player A,” he told me. I could have screamed with happiness. I had made it to the final round.

Mom, Dad and I went out for lunch while we waited for the next round. That was when my head inflated even more. I figured, Hey, I won the first round, the next should be a piece of cake, right?

The next round wasn’t as easy as I thought. This time I had to play for an audience. When I saw the crowd, I felt my big head deflate. Why were there so many people?

Well, by the time they called my name, I was shaking so badly I didn’t think I’d be able to play. I sat, took a deep breath, and played the piece that had consumed six months of my life. I was playing so well that I even surprised myself - until the end. I messed up big time. Is it CGA? No, that’s wrong, let’s try BCG. No! That’s not it either. Oh, please, God just let it be over ... ending note, ending note? Is this it? Yes! Here it is!

Yeah, that’s what was going through my head and through my fingers into the keys. But, I managed to find the right ending notes and stood up, face burning brighter than a fire, to take a bow. Then I sat down and buried my face in my hands so no one would see me cry.

I somehow managed to place second that day, not the best I could have done. Practice had nothing to do with what happened that day. Practice isn’t strong enough to have stopped my head from inflating like a hot air balloon or stopped the crowd from making me nervous. Practice helped me that day, but to go as far as to say that practice makes perfect ... yeah, right!

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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