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Humans of Harker: Emma Yu keys in on musicality

%E2%80%9CPiano+is+a+medium+for+me+to+express+myself.+I%27ve+been+with+it+my+whole+life.+Is+it+cheesy+to+say+it%27s+a+part+of+me%3F+But+it+truly+is.+Just+as+people+cry+when+they%27re+sad%2C+or+they+laugh+when+they%27re+happy%2C+I+play+music+to+express+myself.+It%27s+a+part+of+my+personality.+I+wouldn%27t+be+here+without+piano.+Just+as+how+kindergarten+has+taught+me+the+alphabet%2C+how+middle+school+has+taught+me+algebra%2C+piano+has+taught+me+about+myself%2C%E2%80%9D+Emma+Yu+%2812%29+said.+
“Piano is a medium for me to express myself. I've been with it my whole life. Is it cheesy to say it's a part of me? But it truly is. Just as people cry when they're sad, or they laugh when they're happy, I play music to express myself. It's a part of my personality. I wouldn't be here without piano. Just as how kindergarten has taught me the alphabet, how middle school has taught me algebra, piano has taught me about myself,” Emma Yu (12) said.

“Piano is a medium for me to express myself. I've been with it my whole life. Is it cheesy to say it's a part of me? But it truly is. Just as people cry when they're sad, or they laugh when they're happy, I play music to express myself. It's a part of my personality. I wouldn't be here without piano. Just as how kindergarten has taught me the alphabet, how middle school has taught me algebra, piano has taught me about myself,” Emma Yu (12) said.

Sharon Yan

Sharon Yan

“Piano is a medium for me to express myself. I've been with it my whole life. Is it cheesy to say it's a part of me? But it truly is. Just as people cry when they're sad, or they laugh when they're happy, I play music to express myself. It's a part of my personality. I wouldn't be here without piano. Just as how kindergarten has taught me the alphabet, how middle school has taught me algebra, piano has taught me about myself,” Emma Yu (12) said.

by Sharon Yan, TALON Managing Editor and Business Manager

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A row of 52 white keys and 36 black keys lies before Emma Yu (12) as she adjusts her stool bench, positions her right foot on the pedal and rests her small, agile fingers on the keyboard of her grand piano. Her fingers dance across the black and white keyboard, brushing against every key with varying levels of pressure to express a tonality that reflects each piece’s intended feeling.

“I started [piano] since I was five, and at first I just started off simple,” Emma said. “I wasn’t competitive.”

Like many artists before performing at a recital, Emma faced the challenge of stage fright, despite having played piano for ten years.

“When you start playing, all you can think of is being nervous,” Emma said. “All you can think of is the people, but then once you start getting emotional or into the music, then you kind of lose your atmosphere, you kind of lose where you are, and it’s like you go back to when you were practicing, because the only difference between practice and actual recital is the people.”

Emma tackled piecess with difficulty levels above her age range, which required more practice and dedication on her end in order to deliver a quality performance.  

“Her hands were smaller than the kids same age, but she tried very hard,” Emma’s mother Renshi Xuan said. “Most of the time, she played the pieces harder than kids her age were supposed to play, so it was difficult for her to reach chords.”

Through her musical journey, Emma transitioned between six different piano teachers, each of whom have helped her develop as a pianist and have pushed her to expand on her talents.

“As a kid, the most tedious thing was warm-ups, and my piano teacher would always tell me the majority of the time you have to do warm-ups,” she said. “You have to do 45 minutes of warm-up and 15 minutes of actual playing. Now that I’ve been playing for ten years, it’s reached the point where I can actually just play the song and it would still go smoothly.”

As Emma continued progressing her techniques, she also began to take tests for the Certificate of Merit (CM). To complete the CM Panel Auditions, Emma spent two years preparing a total of four pieces to perform in front of a judge.

“[Panel judges] know how the song should be, they know how you should be playing it, and they know when you make mistakes,” Emma said. “Normally at a recital, the people wouldn’t know if you weren’t playing the song right, wouldn’t know if you held a note for too long or the beat was off, but the fact that the judge knew what you were playing put more pressure on me.”

Emma credits her involvement with piano as a confidence-booster, as she was more introverted and considered herself cowardly as a child.

“Piano helped me open up better as a person, so even when I was away from the instrument, I was still able to have some confidence for myself,” she said. “The months of working or maybe a year to show what you’ve developed on an actual stage, to show all the hard work that you’ve built up for that moment… it feels great.”

From each key she plays to each step of the pedal, Emma has full control over her performance and appreciates her ability to create her own unique sound. Rather than performing in order to relish the audience’s applause after a recital stage, Emma finds satisfaction in knowing she has successfully showcased her musical talent on a piece she has spent months perfecting.

Piano is a medium for me to express myself. I’ve been with it my whole life,” Emma said. “Is it cheesy to say it’s a part of me? But it truly is. Just as people cry when they’re sad, or they laugh when they’re happy, I play music to express myself. It’s a part of my personality. I wouldn’t be here without piano. Just as how kindergarten has taught me the alphabet, how middle school has taught me algebra, piano has taught me about myself.”

2 Comments

2 Responses to “Humans of Harker: Emma Yu keys in on musicality”

  1. Anonymous on October 11th, 2017 9:18 pm

    Correction re: paragraphs 5 and 8

    Musical compositions with lyrics are called songs; those without lyrics are called pieces.

    [Reply]

    Melissa Kwan Reply:

    Thank you, the correction has been made!

    [Reply]

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Humans of Harker: Emma Yu keys in on musicality