Just Don’t Quit

 /   /  By Emma Birches
Stone Soup Magazine
May/June 2015

Juliette Shang

Everyone in my class who plays piano hates practicing. They all say, “Ugh, my mom is so annoying, she says I can quit piano when I am thirteen.” In my case, it’s the opposite way around.

Mom encourages me to quit when I whine about practicing. Of course no kid likes practicing, so I have to whine about it. And don’t get me started about how dull practicing scales, triads, and arpeggios is. But I don’t want to quit piano, because I love music. When I finally get a piece right, the music is so beautiful.

I remember the time when I learned the piece “Polonaise in G minor,” by Chopin. My teacher, who is really good at piano, is very strict. After hours and hours of practice, I thought I had mastered the piece, but she still managed to find something that went wrong, like the rest that wasn’t held long enough, or the quarter notes that sped up to eighth notes. So I had to practice again for weeks.

Just Don’t Quit playing instruments

My happiest memory of piano was when I performed at a local nursing home

On the day I went on the stage in Steinway Hall, as I moved my hands, the music swirled into the performance hall. I saw the notes were dancing over the grand piano, and I played and played until I heard the great applause. My teacher was cheering and clapping, and I knew that she was so proud of me. So was I!

Music is magical because it helps me express myself. It is like a good friend. When I am feeling a bit sad, I play a piece by Handel and it cheers me up. The pieces he writes are always so upbeat, like someone is waiting for something exciting to happen. And I begin to feel that too. When I am angry, I play this piece by Bartok. I start banging the keyboard, to show the whole world my feelings. But the strange thing is, after playing a while of piano, I felt calmed down; I was absorbed in the intense music, forgetting about why I was mad in the first place. I always wonder if Bartok must have found his inner peace, like me, through his exotic music.

My happiest memory of piano was when I performed at a local nursing home for the senior people. I performed a trio, with a violinist and a cellist. We played “Orientale,” by Cesar Cui. We played in perfect harmony and the senior people cheered so loudly for us, it made me blush a bit. After the concert, we walked around and chatted with our audience. They all greeted us eagerly and told us the music made them very happy. One man told me that this had been the best afternoon he had had for a long time. I was proud that my piano made other people cheerful.

Just Don’t Quit a violin

I met a woman who was over a hundred years old, next to her seventy-five-year-old daughter. I was startled a bit because her skin was so wrinkly. She said, “That was beautiful, darling. I play piano, and the music has been with me all my life. It is something that can accompany you forever.”

Her daughter chimed in and told us, “I played piano, but I quit… I have always regretted that. I know it is boring to practice sometimes, but if you keep at it, you will see the beauty of music everywhere you go. Just don’t quit.”

Just Don’t Quit Juliette Shang

Juliette Shang, 10
New York, New York

Just Don’t Quit Maya Work, 10 Terrasse-Vaudreuil

Maya Work, 10
Terrasse-Vaudreuil, Quebec,
Canada

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