I have been playing the piano for the past six years, since mid-December 1996. For years before I started, people looked at my long fingers and told me that I should play piano. So I tried it. And I loved it. And I continued to take lessons and to play. I make an honest effort to keep my nails short (but not too short), so I can curve my fingers more. I practice whenever I can find a spare half-hour, which isn’t as often as it used to be. I have never had an actual piano to practice on, but I “adapt.” (I have a keyboard, i.e. no dynamics.) At the last recital, it seems that I played so well, my teacher cried.

Several times before, I have become so fed up with the piano, or my teacher, that I have considered just giving it up. Tonight is one of those times. I got home from my lesson not long ago. (She teaches me at her house up the street, so I usually stay later than I would if I still went to the Youth Center on Andrews.) About once a month, she has little mini-recitals to give us all experience in playing for an audience. (I am not quite sure if it’s helped me conquer my nervous shaking or not.) The next one is next Friday evening. So, when she told me that, I had to figure out what to play.

I’ve been working on another Christmas song (so what if the holidays are over?), a version of “Angels We Have Heard on High” called “In Excelsis Deo.” It’s in A major, but it’s still very pretty. At least, it’s pretty the way I’ve been practicing it for the past six weeks or so. “Angels” is one of my favorite Christmas carols, so I was very pleased with the way it turned out. But when I played it tonight (for some extra time practicing on a piano), my teacher’s husband said that it sounded too slow. So I checked the tempo marking, and it said (to my dismay) 140. (For the non-music literate, that means 140 beats per minute, just over twice as fast as the second hand on a clock.) I was playing it much slower than that. So they asked me to play it faster, and I did. Much faster. Not 140, but fairly close. It sucks now. “Angels” is supposed to sound flowing and beautiful, not fast and rushed, like it was when I picked up the tempo. It has totally ruined the angelic effect of the piece. And of course, they liked it fast. I swear I wanted to hurt someone. The problem with playing music that someone else composed (or in this case, arranged) is that you can’t necessarily play it the way you want to. You’re supposed to play it the way it’s written. But what happens when the composition of a piece makes you want to rip your hair out? What do you do then?

I love music. I love the piano. I love playing the piano — most of the time. Right now is one of those times when it just gets on my nerves.

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