Kids Issue 2017: Music to my ears

ON A SAUNTER: Claxton Elementary School third-grader Elise Carson painted this watercolor of an elephant and friend.
ON A SAUNTER: Claxton Elementary School third-grader Elise Carson painted this watercolor of an elephant and friend.

Editor’s note: This essay and artwork are part of Mountain Xpress’ Kids Issue 2017, our annual feature devoted to kids’ art and writing. This year, we asked students to focus on the question “What Matters to Me?”

It’s a school night. I am 8 years old and practicing the piano. I start to wander off and mess around by playing random notes and making up horrific chords.

I think some of those keys don’t make the delightful sound I thought they would make, so I try to find something … worthy. I fall upon the F major scale. I move up a note to the G, and try to figure something out there. After about a minute, I discover the G major scale. I next find a note progression in the other six notes in the octave until I come back to F.

I call out to my dad to check out what I found. He comes down, and I show him all the treasure my brain has discovered. My dad tells me they are scales. My cheeks turn as red as a tomato; I am amazed.

He goes out of the room and comes back in with his iPad, pulling up a video. “This song is known as the hardest song on piano ever,” my dad forewarns. “This song is known as Rachmaninoff’s Concerto No. 3.” He presses play. The song starts. I study note by note. It’s like candy for the ears, endless amounts. My jaw drops as the performer plays the entrance to heaven.

That heaven lasted for 45 minutes, and when it ended, I closed my sore jaw and shook my head round and round to see if that was real life. “The girl who played that was 25, and someday you can play that song, maybe at 20.” Those words struck me so hard my eyelids opened from floor to ceiling.

From that point on, I have been competing against myself to someday be as good as the girl I saw play. I hope someday to be a famous musician, and I have gotten support from my teachers and family to keep my hopes up and improve. I love music, every part of it.

— Riley Johnson
The Learning Community School, sixth grade

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