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Anastasia Stepanovna Felt

The Piano and the Girl

The shiny, black digital piano at Art City Music Academy stared back at scrawny, pig-tailed four year old me. Approaching the Yamaha clavinova was forbidden, pressing the rows of magic buttons was off limits. After weeks of the tambourine, maraca, and triangle, my classmates and I were finally allowed close. I cautiously climbed on the tall bench and stretched my arms wide to see how many keys I could reach. I soon began playing with both hands and our instructor pulled my mom aside to recommend I switch to private lessons.

About that time my Russian grandma, Irina, came to visit. She composed and taught piano all of her life. I remember her soft hands covering mine, gently guiding my fingers on the keyboard. She taught me to navigate the maze of notes on a staff swimming in the sea of black and white keys. She laughed when we played together, and those were the moments when I first truly bonded with the piano. She loved music deeply. I felt it. Music became a form of self-expression that drew me closer to my grandma and my Russian heritage.

As I grew I discovered that there were things other than piano I enjoyed and could do well, such as ballet. Like other 9-year-old girls, I had a vision of a sparkly tutu, a spotlight, and a lead in Tschaikovsky's Nutcracker. When there was no longer time to pursue both, the choice was an easy one, and the dedication I had learned through dance I now focused on piano. My teacher was an instrumental part of that decision.
For twelve years Dr. Irene Peery-Fox has been my beloved piano teacher. Her intense passion for music has inspired me to live in a more invigorating world. She introduced me to composers like Carl Maria Von Weber and Alberto Ginastera, and she cultivated my love for the piano. She saw potential in me when I was five, and though the path has not been easy, studying with Dr. Peery-Fox has definitely been worth it. She has shown me that being a musician is not a profession but a lifestyle.

Dr. Peery-Fox constantly challenges me to become more disciplined and driven. I feel the skills she has helped me develop work across the board. I rigorously break challenging calculus problems down and conquer them step-by-step, the same way I memorize concertos. In my English papers I hear harmonies and dissonance, and rearrange them accordingly, as I often do with new pieces of music. When playing the piano, I'm not living someone else's adventure, but starting every day on a new and exciting journey of my own. Though the words of my favorite books stay the same and the stories all have to come to an end, the music I create is constantly changing. Every practice session is fluid, like the tide on the sandy shore.
Music gives me a higher quality of life. That's exactly why I want to pursue my studies in the best school and with the best professors. I still have so much to learn, and a bachelor's degree in music would be a start, not the ultimate goal. The choices I've made, the influences of my amazing teachers, and the immense support of my family have brought me to this point, and I feel ready to pursue my life as a musician.

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