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The Ballad of the Music Student

Lora was a musician for many years accomplished on both piano and strings. She has played with orchestras, in ensembles, and as a soloist.

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The Piano Recital

Oh those piano recitals! I can remember how nervous I used to get right before I had to play. When I saw my name next in the program, I started to freeze just thinking about it. And then, when it was my turn, I remember how I felt every eye upon me as I sat down. Sitting down my knees would knock and then I would close my eyes and just try to hear the music in my head. Concentrate just concentrate, I kept saying to myself! It seemed when I started playing that I would have to will my fingers to move. But then after I hit some very strange notes that were not in the music, I became less nervous and actually started playing the music as it was written! Yes, I was finally in the zone but it certainly took awhile. To me it seemed like an eternity but in actuality, I think it was somewhere in the middle of the piece that I started to be at one with the music and it began to flow.

Now, I still go to piano recitals but its my daughter who plays. It brings back so many memories for me, particularly that one Sunday, when I played the Polonaise by Beethoven and there was a bust of him on top of the piano and I could have sworn he was looking right at me. The master himself! I will attempt to recount that day when the room became so silent that all I could hear was the loud beating of my heart as I sat down and began to play. The following poem is a tribute to what I experienced that day...


The Ballad of the Music Student Poem

I sat down at the piano
to begin the Polonaise with a flourish.
Suddenly, it became so silent in the room
that you could hear someone saying
a final "hush" soon.

I envisioned I'd wow them,
make some even swoon...
with a captivating boom,
I could hear in my mind a piano forte...
but all that came out were notes of a feeble sort.

I would summon all the courage it would take
for such noble a purpose I knew was at stake!
After all, it was for art's sake-
to muster all my poise
for such grand, eloquent noise...

I vowed I would make great harmony
with the ensuing chord,
but with fingers trembling
impediment to fine motor assembling-
one note completely missed,
and instead created quite a discord!

Ludwig van Beethoven(1770–1827), German composer. Despite increasing deafness, Beethoven wrote prodigiously: nine symphonies, thirty-two piano sonatas, sixteen string quartets, the opera Fidelio (1814), and the Mass in D (the Missa Solemnis, 1823).

Ludwig van Beethoven(1770–1827), German composer. Despite increasing deafness, Beethoven wrote prodigiously: nine symphonies, thirty-two piano sonatas, sixteen string quartets, the opera Fidelio (1814), and the Mass in D (the Missa Solemnis, 1823).

I kept my gaze tightly focused on the keys,
and said, "dear Pataruski help me if you please..."
with great commitment and willingness abound
I certainly had yet to astound;
at that moment something miraculous begin to click
or maybe it was just true "grit"
but all of a sudden,
I actually begin to sound quite "finessy"
even a bit "Chopinessy."

I got better and better as I played,
the music full of new life and verve.
I guess you might say I had finally found
"da nerve."

Why, I could have sworn
that this time when I looked up
at the bust of Mr. Beethoven, himself,
though it took a considerable while-
that the frown on his face turned into a smile!

So folks remember this bit of advice
when you experience some difficulty
in your life...
just think of this little ballad
and keep the music alive in your heart,
for even if you get off to a shaky start...
you may end up finishing like Mozart.

-Lora Hollings

W. Manz - Ludwig van Beethoven Polonaise C-Dur op. 89

© 2020 Lora Hollings

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