The Franz Liszt Goosebumps

le musée Liszt

Photo Jean-Pierre Dalbéra 2007 (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

I had to compete in an international piano competition, and I was so scared I might forget my piece. This event, Los Angeles Liszt International Piano Competition, takes piano competition to a whole new level. Pianists from around the world come to participate in this highly challenged and exciting competition. Each of the competitors had to practice their song for over 1 or 2 years. For me, I started my song 1 year before the competition. The piece is named Polonaise No.1 by Franz Liszt. That song was quite hard for me for I had to stretch out my fingers more than normal to reach my notes. The speed took me a while to master as well. Finally, after months of sweat and suffering, I was able to perform the song with precision, though in a blink of the eye, the competition day was drawing near. It was a week before the competition, I was so nervous. If you had read my older posts, you would have found out that I get stage-fright. In this case, that was not necessarily the reason why. I had jammed my finger into a wall because of sleep-walking and it had yet to recover. I had to constantly ice it daily, but it would still swell.

It was the day of the competition, and I had yet to know what was coming up. I had already received a lecture from my piano teacher because I had arrived 3 hours early to warm up my fingers. I thought that would be a good strategy because then my body would be warmer and I would get a chance to ease into the competition area. Apparently, just after 1 hour, I needed sugar. I felt dead to the limbs. Well, it soon became my turn to play in the front of the judges. While I was playing, I was so surprised with how calm I was. I didn’t even get stage-fright which is a crucial change for a better performance. Another factor that probably helped me was the piano I was playing on. It was a grand Steinway piano. Steinway is the top piano brand, highly demanding, and very high priced.

john-lennon-steinway-grand-piano-2010_01_0

An example of the Steinway that I played on.

In the room at that time, there were three very old, male judges. The room was full of people. When I was playing, I kind of just let my soul drift into the music. The warmth of the keys on the piano and the beauty of song just triggered my emotions. Therefore, you could just feel the strength and feelings exerting out of the piano and into the room.

As my song came to an end, huge applause erupted from the audience. I was very satisfied with my performance. Most importantly, my mom was smiling and congratulated me by patting me on the back. Before I left the room, the judges said thank you and flashed me a smile. Everything was positive until I stepped foot outside the room. My teacher was standing there, GLARING at me with a look of disappointment. (sigh)

What my teacher felt or thought did not get to me in the slightest of ways. I felt very pleased and proud with myself that I played well and did my best. Knowing that the awards ceremony was at 5, my family and I went out for Starbucks and chilled out. We started a conversation with my teacher and discussed who we thought would win. The foreshadowing winner’s list that my teacher mentioned did not include me. When we were back for the awards, I did not place. My teacher was right.

I now believed that nothing is impossible if you practice enough, there is nothing to fear about. I had a pep talk with my mom. She assured me that I had done my best out there, and I would not have been able to play any better. At home, I ran my hands through my trophy case and thought about all my other awards I had, which had made me regain my confidence. After a few days of depression, I soon got back up to the top and kept a positive mood.

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