What is a Piano Recital? This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

March 8, 2012
I was ten the day of my first piano recital. I had been practicing for weeks, dashing to the piano whenever I had an extra second, biting the hell out of my fingernails. They were chewed down to the quick by 7:00 – the fateful moment parents holding programs and uninterested siblings began to seat themselves. I was slumped in a seat up front, not able to stop my resentment for every person who didn't have to sit in front of a crowd and perform a song they hated from sinking into my pores and ­festering there.

The recital began, and people were called up one by one, like lambs to the slaughter, except the axe came in the form of an elegant old piano with smooth ivory keys. I could hardly believe I had been admiring the instrument just the week before, and I'd even let my fingers stroke the lacquered wood and cool keys with reverence instead of hatred.

“Jessica?” My piano teacher called, her glasses slipping down her long nose to hang right at the tip as she read from her list of performers. I had seen that list just 20 minutes earlier and knew the next name on it was mine.

Jessica, an itty-bitty blonde kindergartener whose feet didn't even touch the floor when she was seated on the bench, began to play. Though her song was rather snappy in the first place, I still felt as if only a breath later the motherly piano teacher was calling my name.


I walked to the front, well – dragged myself to the front. I could barely glance up to announce the piece I was playing – Mozart, of course. I hated Mozart. Mozart was an idiot. If he just hadn't had the nerve to write the piece, I wouldn't have had to play it. What gave him the right to sit down and write a Minuet in G? If he were a composer truly worthy of respect he would have been happy with a minuet in C. Always pushing things, that Mozart.

I sank onto the piano bench in much the same way people lie on surgical ­tables they may never leave, my fingernails clicking on the keys loudly in the suddenly eerie-seeming silence. Taking a gulp of air (the deep breath before the plunge), I hit the first note. My fingers were shaking so much they couldn't find the next key, and I imagined I could hear whispers coming from the audience.

Telling myself it was Mozart's fault if the song sounded bad (he did write it, didn't he?), I started again and managed to ­continue this time. Halfway through, I began to wonder if the song had ever gone on this long before. It seemed to go on forever, like strings of taffy you yank and yank in the hope they will eventually tear. It ended eventually, of course. All things must end. I bowed while running back to my seat, a movement that must have looked both hilarious and awkward, but I honestly couldn't have cared less. I was done. And I would never ever have to play that piece again.

It was a bit of a blur after that. I didn't listen to the people who came after me, too busy deciding I quite liked Beethoven and that Mozart's minuets had absolutely nothing on good old “Ode to Joy.”

After everyone had finished, we “mingled” (as the piano teacher called it) for another 20 minutes. My piano teacher bustled over to me as I was about to slip out the door, a fond expression hiding behind the glasses she had ­finally pushed back up.

“That was wonderful, dear,” she said, smiling gently. “I hope you'll play more Mozart in the future.”

I smiled at her, though it must have looked more like a grimace or a prelude to tears than any real expression of joy, and left with my parents before anyone else could approach me.

Since that day I've played at many recitals, but I've never again performed a piece by Mozart. I hold grudges.

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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asofnow This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Jun. 18, 2013 at 1:22 pm
I could hear your voice in this piece really well! Nice!  
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