One of my earliest memories as a piano student includes my first piano recital. I was five years old at the time. My parents had brought me to my piano teacher's studio on a beautiful Sunday afternoon and I sat down amongst the other students. My teacher, Mrs. Pughe introduced herself and gave a lovely welcome to the audience. Just afterwards, she turned to me and sweetly said, "Rose, would you like to play now?" I said, “No.”
To this day I chuckle at my honesty as a five-year-old. I remember genuinely not wanting to perform in a room full of people (bigger than me) whom I barely knew. Mrs. Pughe politely invited another student to begin the recital and somehow successfully came back around to me later.
I enjoyed my lessons but sitting down to practice at home was a struggle. I remember the arguments I would have with my mother about how I did not want to practice daily. One day they reached quite an angry level. “I want to quit!” I screamed. My mother said, “Ok Rose. You can quit, but you have to call your piano teacher and tell her. You also have to tell your grandfather.” His name was Vito Mason and he was an amazing and celebrated choral conductor. I never had the temerity to do either, so I stuck with it. Though Mom must have slipped my struggles to Grandpa because one night I got a very good pep talk about how I would one day thank my mother for her incredible determination and encouragement in fostering my musical talents. My mother is a smart lady. She never forced me to continue but rather knew that if I really wanted to quit I would have told Mrs. Pughe and Grandpa myself.
To make a long and rich story short, over the years I absorbed wonderful knowledge of music and became more and more inspired and motivated to practice and meet goals. My lessons became more enjoyable, I benefitted from the process and notion of progress, and I gained more performance experience, which helps immensely in combating performance anxiety. I never again said “No” when asked to perform. I knew I wanted to spend the rest of my life dedicated to music the moment when I accompanied my middle school choir and was congratulated at the end with a roaring applause. I had worked so diligently for months on this piece of music and during the applause this incredible sense of happiness and accomplishment overcame me. I glowed all evening and from then on I knew this was what I wanted to do.
I am happy to be on the piano faculty at Hunterdon Academy of the Arts, working with my students and cultivating their motivation, love, talent for music. My grandfather (a life-long mentor) was right; I am thankful to my mother and also my father for being so supportive when I was young.
Rose McCathran, Piano Instructor at Hunterdon Academy of the Arts