The Ballad of the Music Student

Updated on February 29, 2020
Lora Hollings profile image

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

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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    • Lora Hollings profile imageAUTHOR

      Lora Hollings 

      4 months ago

      I certainly had a rough start, Nithya, but then the nervousness gradually dissipated and I started hitting many more notes than missing them. I think Beethoven finally smiled even if it was brief! I love to watch my daughter play and we have much fun playing duets together. Learning to play an instrument is a great way to spend your time. It can bring you so much enjoyment. Thanks for reading and for your wonderful comment!

    • Vellur profile image

      Nithya Venkat 

      4 months ago from Dubai

      It must have been tough but you played and Beethoven approved! You must have sounded great, you have magic in your fingers. It must be great to watch your daughter play now. I enjoyed reading your poem, beautifully expressed.

    • Lora Hollings profile imageAUTHOR

      Lora Hollings 

      4 months ago

      Alyssa, thanks for dropping by and your comments are always appreciated. It is wonderful to be able to share music and art with our children. We have so much fun playing duets together and learning to play an instrument is very good for our brains as well! I'm so happy to hear that my poem inspired you to learn to play the piano. And I hope that you and your family are staying safe and healthy too!

    • Alyssa Nichol profile image

      Alyssa 

      4 months ago from Ohio

      It's so precious that you can share your love of music with your daughter through piano.

      I always wanted to learn how to play. Your poem has inspired me to take the time now to do so.

      I hope you and your family are staying safe and healthy! :)

    • profile image

      billybuc 

      4 months ago

      And the recitals were always on Sunday. I wanted to be playing baseball with my friends. I have no positive memories of my organ recitals. lol

      I hope you are safe and healthy. Blessings to you and your family.

    • Majestic Tells profile image

      Laurinzoscott 

      4 months ago from Kanab, Utah

      Youcare so welcome Lora...keep painting divine pictures with your words...you as well!

    • Lora Hollings profile imageAUTHOR

      Lora Hollings 

      4 months ago

      Laurinzoscott, thanks for dropping by and for your kind words. I'm complimented that you really enjoyed my poem. Have a great day!

    • Majestic Tells profile image

      Laurinzoscott 

      4 months ago from Kanab, Utah

      Very nice piece indeed...you have a mastery of words..and live your inage choice...nice

    • Lora Hollings profile imageAUTHOR

      Lora Hollings 

      4 months ago

      Dora, thanks for reading my article and your comments are always appreciated. I think the way to get over stage fear is by playing often in public and to remember that it happens to everyone. And the people you are playing for are rooting for you. Have a great Sunday!

    • Lora Hollings profile imageAUTHOR

      Lora Hollings 

      4 months ago

      Brenda, I'm happy to hear that you enjoyed my poem and found the message to be encouraging to others. I'm honored that you want to post it on your poetry site. Thanks for the read and I'm deeply complimented by your comment. Have a wonderful weekend!

    • Lora Hollings profile imageAUTHOR

      Lora Hollings 

      5 months ago

      Flourish, thanks for reading and your comment is appreciated. Performing in public can be a pretty intimidating experience but practice and fortitude certainly helps! I think learning to meditate can also help as you learn to relax and to focus your attention more on what you're doing. I'm glad you enjoyed the poem and its sense of humor. Have a great weekend!

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 

      5 months ago from The Caribbean

      You held my interest as you took me through the ordeal. I felt all the emotions from fear through inspiration. Good work!

    • Brenda Arledge profile image

      BRENDA ARLEDGE 

      5 months ago from Washington Court House

      Love this! It's encouraging.

      Many a time i have been nervous in the beginning, but it eases away if you keep going.

      I shared this post to a page I have called poets with a voice.

      Here is the link

      https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=121245...

      If for some reason you don't want it to be shared...let me know.

      Thanks

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 

      5 months ago from USA

      It out could have definitely crumbled and lost all confidence but thankfully you found it within you with some help! I like the sense of playfulness in this.

    • Lora Hollings profile imageAUTHOR

      Lora Hollings 

      5 months ago

      Chitrangada, I appreciate you reading my article and commenting. It is wonderful to be able to share the gift of music with others. I'm impressed with the instruments that you learned to play. I love the sitar and it is my understanding that it is a very difficult instrument to master. The way to get rid of stage fear is by performing often. And it is true, that in the beginning you may feel on edge but as you play and really focus on the music, it goes away and then you start to enjoy the music and it turns into a very rewarding experience. Thanks much for your participation and kind words. Best wishes to you.

    • ChitrangadaSharan profile image

      Chitrangada Sharan 

      5 months ago from New Delhi, India

      A wonderful and enjoyable read. It’s so nice to read your personal experience, through the text and the poem. Beautifully expressed.

      You reminded me of my student days. I had the opportunity to learn and play guitar and sitar, and I have given many stage performances, during my school and college days. I can relate to the stage fear, in the beginning of the performance. But, once you see the audience is enjoying it, the performer loves being on the stage. I still have great love for music, both vocal and instrumental.

      Thanks for sharing this refreshing post.

    • Lora Hollings profile imageAUTHOR

      Lora Hollings 

      5 months ago

      Ruby, thanks much for reading my article and for commenting. Yes, persistence and a positive outlook that things will get better always pays off! Children of parents who don't get so hung up on their child making mistakes always seem to do better than children whose parents have made them scared about making a mistake! When you do that to your child, you end up making them even more nervous and anxious not less and after awhile they don't even want to perform in public any more as it becomes such a negative experience. Then they lose interest in even practicing their instrument as the bar has been set too high. Even the best musicians have made many mistakes while performing, and get better only by performing more and not focusing on the mistakes they may make but just enjoying the music! We need to teach children to enjoy the process and not focus on playing perfectly because in the long run they will become more at ease if we don't make them feel bad about making mistakes. Thanks for your insight and I'm glad that you enjoyed the poem's message. Have a wonderful week!

    • Lora Hollings profile imageAUTHOR

      Lora Hollings 

      5 months ago

      You played the organ? I'm impressed Bill. It is a difficult instrument to master. It's also one of my favorite instruments. Thanks for dropping by and for commenting. Have a good one!

    • Lora Hollings profile imageAUTHOR

      Lora Hollings 

      5 months ago

      Thanks Bushra for reading and leaving a comment. It was a fun poem to write! Best wishes to you.

    • Lora Hollings profile imageAUTHOR

      Lora Hollings 

      5 months ago

      Marie, thanks much for stopping by and for your wonderful suggestions. Warm-up exercises such as playing scales does help and the nervousness does subside as you say, the more you play in public. I will have to check out the YouTube videos and share them with my students. Have a great week.

    • Lora Hollings profile imageAUTHOR

      Lora Hollings 

      5 months ago

      Yes, Pamela, it is always difficult to speak or perform in front of an audience and I think each time we do it, we become a little less nervous. Experience does help. I'm glad you enjoyed the poem. Have a good week!

    • Lora Hollings profile imageAUTHOR

      Lora Hollings 

      5 months ago

      John, thanks for reading and your comment is appreciated. I'm glad you enjoyed my article. I have to say there were many such moments back in my school days and many times after that where I experienced anxiety before performing in public. I was usually able to get it under control and after awhile, it went away. Even now, I still get a little nervous but it has become much less over the years. Have a great week!

    • Lora Hollings profile imageAUTHOR

      Lora Hollings 

      5 months ago

      Lorna, thanks so much for the read and for your generous comment. Beethoven was definitely a giant even among great composers and I always love playing his compositions. Even though, it may bring some nervousness for performers before a concert or recital, the majority of times it ends up being a very gratifying experience because you are sharing such wonderful music and people really do appreciate your efforts. And the more you play in public, the easier it gets and the greater the rewards. Have a wonderful evening!

    • Lora Hollings profile imageAUTHOR

      Lora Hollings 

      5 months ago

      Umesh, thank you for dropping by and leaving a comment. Happy that you enjoyed this article. Music makes the world a much richer place. Have a great day!

    • Lora Hollings profile imageAUTHOR

      Lora Hollings 

      5 months ago

      Rosina, thanks much for reading and for commenting on my article. I'm honored that you liked it. It was a fun poem to write even though it did bring back some jittery moments! But overcoming our fears and learning to enjoy the process is what life is all about. Have a wonderful day!

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Richert 

      5 months ago from Southern Illinois

      Your poem reminds us that when we continue something not going so well, we will build courage and finish the course and possibly do better than we hoped for.. I could feel your nervousness through your poetic words. Well done!

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      5 months ago from Olympia, WA

      I played the organ as a kid. Many organ recitals. Not nearly as cool as a piano recital. :(

    • Bushra Iqbal profile image

      Anya Ali 

      5 months ago from Rabwah, Pakistan

      Enjoyable read!

    • Marie Flint profile image

      Marie Flint 

      5 months ago from Jacksonville, FL USA

      I remember how nervous I would get playing clarinet solos in high school. You have to keep playing again, again, and again. Eventually the nervousness subsides. There are voice warm-up videos on YouTube to help singers relax. These also apply to musicians on instruments!

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 

      5 months ago from Sunny Florida

      I think sharing your personal experience in this poem is so nice. This is a very good. It is hard to get up in front of an audience and perform and many people become very nervous, so you expressed those very well.

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 

      5 months ago from Queensland Australia

      Thank you for sharing this experience and wonderful poem, Lora. I can't even imagine how nervous I would be giving a solo piano recital (even if I could play a piano.) I think you did well just to get through it. I enjoyed the read. Well done.

    • Lorna Lamon profile image

      Lorna Lamon 

      5 months ago

      You have weaved a wonderful tale into this poem Lora and I can certainly relate to the feelings you have conjured up. I imagine Beethoven to be a hard taskmaster with his angry expression, however, his genius cannot be disputed. There is also a light side to this poem which made me smile. The painting of the child at the piano is lovely. Beautiful writing as always.

    • bhattuc profile image

      Umesh Chandra Bhatt 

      5 months ago from Kharghar, Navi Mumbai, India

      Very nice. A musical hub. Enjoyable. Thanks.

    • surovi99 profile image

      Rosina S Khan 

      5 months ago

      Great inspirational text and poem on your journey in playing music. It shows us how we all can achieve great things in spite of shaky beginnings. A splendid hub. Loved it, Lora!

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