When Practice Becomes the Joy.

Nora Keith did not have the chance to perform on our spring recital, due to a traveling conflict. However, the work she put into this piece, and a simple, low quality iPhone recording I captured of her work on it this week, demonstrates a truth that has been growing in my heart over the past year.

It's not the moments on stage where we are guaranteed our greatest rewards. While those moments can be exciting and fulfilling, depending on how we approach them, they are very often overrated in the life of a performing artist. The quiet moments we spend pursuing excellence out of pure joy are worth far more than any standing ovation.

Nora's mom shared with me that her daughter has been spending lots of time in daily piano practice now that the summer months are giving her extra free time. She's adding it to her days and mixing it into the usual pleasures of tv shows and book reading, and the only reason this could be happening is because she loves it. It's summer time, and she could be at the swimming pool or the movie theater or anywhere but the piano, if she saw piano practice as a mere means to an end.

For Nora, who has been playing piano for just shy of two years now, the practice IS the joy. The quiet moments are her reward. The artistry of dynamics and legato and expression and beautifully rounded fingers are blossoming as she takes the time to "play," and I am proud of her.

Please take a moment to enjoy her rendering of "Leaving Netherfield" from the 2005 motion picture soundtrack of "Pride and Prejudice." 

- Kellie McHugh -