Meet Gigi, a Molly’s Music piano student for two years, and a prime example of the good that comes from diligence, consistency, and devotion to one’s art. Since I can’t paraphrase the zeal with which her teacher, Janelle, talks about Gigi, I’ll just quote:
Gigi rarely misses a lesson, practices every week, masters all of the songs assigned to her, and is always ready for more. She is poised and confident in her skills and performance, and she’s always interested in learning new songs and concepts. She has taken the piano from a hobby to a talent, and has truly become a musician.
We had the honor of interviewing this talented 15-year-old and got to pick her brain about her pianism, her interests, her aspirations, and her advice to other students.
MM: When did you start playing music?
GW: When my sister and I were little, we would always bang on the piano keys in our living room. When I was seven, I started taking lessons from a teacher named Tami. At the age of 12, I began taking lessons with Janelle.
MM: What do you love about playing piano?
GW: I feel like the more I practice a song, the closer I become to what the writer/ composer was feeling when they wrote the song. Piano is also my form of relaxation when I’m stressed or need to take my mind off things.
MM: What types of music do you prefer to play and why?
GW: I prefer to play pop songs as well as jazz. My favorite song to play is Turning Tables by Adele, and I’m also really into Footloose music right now since my new Footloose Book came in the mail last week!
MM: What is the most challenging aspect of playing piano for you?
GW: The most challenging aspect of playing piano was finding passion in playing classical music. It wasn’t until Janelle became my teacher that I began to love playing classical and jazz music. It has really helped me become an all around better pianist.
MM: Have you performed anywhere?
GW: I haven’t performed anywhere besides the recitals. However, performing in front of people is definitely something I need to work on, because in all of the recitals so far, my foot ends up shaking on the pedal, which makes it harder for me to concentrate on the song I am playing.
MM: Do you ever write your own music?
GW: About a year ago, I wrote one song and it was awful! I am participating in the songwriting class at the end of the month because songwriting is something I am very interested in.
MM: I hear you’re very diligent when it comes to practicing: what keeps you motivated? Do you have any tips for kids (or parents) to motivate them to practice?
GW: Practicing any musical instrument is just like doing homework. How do you feel when you show up to school and you’re the only kid in the class without the assignment done? It’s the same with piano—a lesson isn’t fun or worthwhile if you haven’t done the practice. Plus, you’re not fooling anyone: your teacher knows when you haven’t practiced all week! Also, there’s 24 hours in a day—you can find time to spend one or two hours practicing. Cut out an hour of video games or television and put your time into practicing.
MM: How do you practice piano? How do you structure practice sessions to maximize your progress?
GW: I start by playing each classical/lesson book song that I’m working on, three times each. If there’s a part that I have trouble with on a particular song, I play the part four or five times, or until it feels “natural.” Repetition is key :). Then, I practice songs from my Broadway Book, three times each. After I finish the songs I was assigned to practice, I work on sight-reading out of pop books. Janelle has taught me the importance of sight-reading and how it makes you a better piano player. I also use musicnotes.com to purchase my new favorite songs, so I can instantly print them or download them onto the Music Notes app on my iPad.
MM: If you could be any musician ever, who would it be and why?
GW: If I could be any musician, I would be Alicia Keys because her Grammy Performance in 2011 of “Empire State of Mind” on the piano was AMAZING. I wish my hands could move up and down the piano as fast as hers do!
MM: Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
GW: Since I will be in college in 5 years, I think it would be fun to work at a restaurant at night playing piano. There’s also many colleges that offer music classes with credits that I would be interested in taking.
MM: What other hobbies and interests do you have/what do you do in your free time?
GW: In my free time I love to read, play soccer, sew, shop, go on a beach run, hang out with my friends, go to the beach, and travel.
MM: Currently listening to / recently listened to?
GW: I am currently into “Counting Stars” by One Republic, the whole Footloose album, “Near To You” by A Fine Frenzy, and all Adele songs. She’s my favorite artist!