Peace After the Storm This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

May 14, 2011
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When strangers would compliment my mom on her darling children, I would duck my head and hide behind her. If they animatedly talked to me directly, it was too intense for me to deal with at such a young age. I would either let my older sister step up to reply, or I would freeze there with a terrified expression. It has always been my nature to be so terribly shy.

Last May, I nervously sat in the recital hall among the other piano students with butterflies fluttering in my stomach. At the rehearsal the day before, I had nailed my memorized piece, “Raindrop Prelude” by Chopin, and my teacher was very pleased—but I was still frightened to perform in front of an audience. All too soon it was my turn. I sat at the bench, ran the beginning of the piece through my head, and then placed my hands on the keys. I tried to ignore the fact that my hands were shaking as I played. Suddenly, my mind went blank, and I completely forgot the piece.

My fingers fumbled over the keys, trying to find the melody. The stage lights burned my face as I faced two choices—start over or run off the stage. The second choice was vey tempting, but I had experienced stage fright before. It could only hurt my confidence if I walked away from this challenge.

I started over, but my embarrassment could be heard as I played a little more timidly. When I reached the same spot, my memory failed again. Should I start over again? What was the audience thinking? Should I leave now and just say I tried? How could I ever play the piano again? I took a breath and began once more. I had to make it through this time (three times is the charm, right?). Maybe these “raindrops” were in Arizona where the weather cannot decide what to do. Well, tonight there was going to be a downpour on the audience. Once again, I almost lost it but muddled through the chords.

The raindrops turned into a building storm as I let my frustration flow into the “storm” section of the piece. Putting all of my expression into the piece and leaving the audience on a good note (no pun intended) would hopefully make up for the major memory loss. The storm subsided and the raindrops gently fell. The clouds dispersed as the colorful music sounded from my fingers to create a bold, vivid rainbow. The last of the raindrops dripped from the vibrating piano strings as I placed the last chord.

Hard to accept the applause and stand there in front of the audience, I quickly bowed and left the stage. As I sat back in my chair, listening to the next student begin their piece, I wondered why my memory faltered on the piece that I had worked so hard on and nailed so many times previously. Sitting there thinking, my whole day crashed down on my head. It had been a stressful Monday at school, and I was feeling sick. However, I did not accept those excuses. I could not help but silently cry the rest of the recital, and I quickly left before the awards were handed out.

As I waited for my parents in the parking lot, I reflected on my piano skills. I was no concert pianist. In fact, I had only been seriously studying piano for the past three years (not counting a few beginning years when I was five). I did not have the same stage experience or confidence as the other students. Add in the factor of my extreme shyness, and it resulted in a disastrous recital.

Someone once said, “The greatest test of courage on this Earth is to bear defeat without losing heart.” I had pulled through and finished the piece. I did not walk away from the obstacle confronting me especially in front of an audience. I am going to study architecture at a university; if I want to be successful in this field, I need to be able to sell my ideas and designs to strangers. Because of this piano recital, I know I might make mistakes, but I have gained the courage to stay in the spotlight and finish my presentation—that is when the best feeling comes and my racing heart is calmed.





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