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My Baroque Nemesis This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.


   Things did not look promising. My dad had just beenlaid off, and though my mom tried hard to make ends meet, money wasscarce. I felt especially guilty because I knew that, although we couldbarely afford it, I was still allowed to take my beloved piano lessons.I had protested, saying I did not need them anymore, but my mother,whose stubbornness rivals mine, refused to let me quit. Suddenly, theyears I had slacked off hit me in the stomach, and I was driven topractice harder than ever before.

I absolutely despised Bach, butwhen I heard about a Bach piano competition offering a $1,000 prize, Iwas determined to face my Baroque nemesis - and win.

Thehypnotic sound of my metro-nome mesmerized me as I sat, frustrated, infront of my piano, sighing as my fingers clumsily stumbled through apassage I just could not get right. Indisputably the bane of my musicalexistence, I swear Bach's fugues have been the source of my acnebreakouts and occasional ulcers. I have never successfully memorized acomplete Bach prelude or fugue. Yet, upon hearing the beautifulthree-part melodies in his Fuga VI, I fell in love and wanted to masterit.

And now, after months of plodding doggedly through horriblydifficult fingerings and chord progressions, I had finally succeeded inmemorizing it. All, that is, except five measures in the middle. As Irubbed my aching fingers after hours of practice, I closed my eyes andprayed for divine intervention to make measures 16 through 20 disappear.No such luck. I continued to repeat those cursed measures; methodicallymy fingers went through the motions - surely I had played them 1,000times.

After what seemed an eternity, the metronome that hadfaithfully supplied my steady beat stopped, as if signaling I hadpracticed enough for one day. Thinking some chocolate would improve mymemory, I headed to the kitchen. I did not notice my piano books andskidded wildly before landing face first on the floor.

A trip tothe emergency room and a few x-rays confirmed my fear: I had sprained mypinky finger. As I sat in the waiting room, I cursed my clumsiness andsadly reflected on the months of practice down the drain. But worst ofall, I knew I had let my family down when they needed me most. I calledmy mom to tell her the news, but before I could say a word, I started tocry and sputtered that something awful had happened. My mom immediatelyasked, "Did Dad get in a car accident?" I was silent a moment,then told her I had sprained my finger. My mom breathed a sigh of reliefand told me not to scare her like that. Comforting me with soothingwords and promises of chocolate ice cream, she said she would see me inthe evening.

At home, I once again sat in front of my piano. Ireached over to wind my metronome and tentatively placed my fingers onthe keys. Carefully avoiding my injured finger, I began to play. Iplayed for hours, just letting the three intertwining voices of thefugue engulf me, listening to the silvery sounds that resonated from theSteinway. I still had my music. My finger would heal. And my dad was notin a car accident. Things looked very promising.



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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