The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music: Madison-area piano students explain why, despite nerves and hard work, they like to play music for others and perform in public

June 15, 2012

By Jacob Stockinger

A little over a month ago,  I attended a student recital that my piano teacher in Madison, Bill Lutes (below), holds every spring for his non-adult students, usually in the auditorium at Oakwood Village West retirement community.

It is always an enjoyable and illuminating event. But this time proved especially so. Lutes had asked his students to provide personal commentaries about playing the piano in general and playing in public in specific.

So in addition to hearing wonderful music by Bach, Scarlatti, Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Mendelssohn, Chopin, Schumann, Liszt, Brahms, Grieg, Debussy, Bartok and Rachmaninoff and others, I also got to ponder the thoughts of young people and the meaning that classical music and performing that music hold for them.

I thought others might like to see and hear their comments. So I asked Lutes if the students (below) and their parents would agree to a public posting, with pictures I took. They did.

So here they are.

I realize there are many, many Madison-area recitals and student concerts that merit a similar recognition. The problem is that I just don’t know of them. But if you or a music student you know, adult or non-adult, would like to leave a short and similar commentary, please do so in the Comments section of this blog.

I also think asking music students who participate in a recital to give a brief “artist’s statement” is a wonderful idea. It gets students thinking about the role of music in their lives. It helps parents to appreciate their child’s achievement and to understand what paying for their children’s music lessons really means. And it fosters learning by listeners from performers.

I want to thank the students for both the music and their thoughts about the music. Their individual recital pictures follow their statement.

Maya Nitschke Alonso/Cherokee Middle School

I love playing piano because I really enjoy all of the different sounds it can make and the variety of dynamics that it can produce. I also really like all of the action and the movements that can be added to the sounds while you are playing.


Maylynn Hu/Elm Lawn Elementary School

I love playing piano. It is really fun. I especially like Beethoven and Mozart‘s music. I find playing their fast pieces very enjoyable.

Hallie Turnbull/Graduated, Memorial High School

My piano is my most dependable and necessary creative outlet. This staple of my daily diet uses Bach for stability, Mendelssohn for tranquility, and composing for passion. I am definitely one to believe all problems are alleviated with a little piano time.

Allen Chang/ Kromrey Middle School

Playing the piano takes the mind off of real things in life. On the piano you are the controller of the mood, by making these things happy, sad, angry, or anything you want it to sound. There are many different sounds you can express.

R. J. Leiferman /Graduating, Middleton High School

Although I have never been a fan of practicing, playing the piano, especially for other people, is one of the most enjoyable things I have ever done.  I’m not quite sure why I like it so much, but I do.  There is something about playing music for other people, giving them the gift of music, that I really enjoy.


Andrew Brettin/West High School

I enjoy playing the piano because I like making music. Sometimes I try playing songs that I hear on the radio because I like playing songs that everybody knows.


Adrian Binkley/Waunakee Middle School

I love playing the piano for many reasons. One is the freedom it can give the performer, which is not found often in other things. Another reason is that it can create and/or share ideas much more “colorfully” than words. Also, this art form is more of a language than most people think, which creates a connection between pianists.

Sam Averill/Graduating, Waunakee High School

I love playing piano because it is such a versatile instrument that allows for so much musical expression. It will also help me in my future endeavors in college and beyond.

Leslie Huang/West High School

Playing the piano offers an escape from the outside world. It’s a constant challenge, but when you get it just right, the music expresses what can’t be put into words and creates an entirely new world unique to the player, as well as everyone who experiences it.

 Hannah Lou/ West High School

Playing the piano is like you are transformed into your own magical world, full of sorrow, happiness and unimaginable stories. It is a special way to enjoy music and a great way for relaxation. I have always loved the sound of the piano ever since I was a little child.

Loren McMahon/ Jefferson Middle School

I love playing the piano because you can express your feelings in what you play, and especially how you play. When you play a song on piano you make it your own, even if you’ve never even heard it before. It gives you a feeling of accomplishment when you finish performing something with as close to perfection as to your ability!

Ethan Seidenberg/Hamilton Middle School

I like to play the piano because it gives me a sense of an accomplishment to learn a piece.  I like that the two hands can have different melodies.

Vivian Wilhelms/Waunakee Middle School

I love playing the piano because it allows me to express my deepest thoughts and feelings.  It is so relaxing because it allows me to think inwardly about myself, yet at the same time, I am reaching for things beyond myself.  Whenever I play, it is as if I become part of a different world — a world in which everything I imagine becomes real.  It is such a magical feeling that I can only find in my music. 

Garrick Olsen/Waukesha Virtual High School

I love to play the piano for others as well as for my own enjoyment. Music is definitely a huge part of who I am, and I can’t really imagine life without it.

Max Butler/Graduating,  Memorial High School

I like to play piano because the more I put into it, the more I get out of it. When I have puzzled over each technical and musical detail of a piece, I play the piano in a deeper and almost completely different way. And that is one of the most rewarding I have ever had.


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