Israel Summer 2003

Thank You Mary

Ten years ago, a little girl (I think) walked into Mrs. Huang’s studio draped in a baggy green shirt and baggy pants to go with it. After being told to spit out her gum, she sat down to play, nothing too memorable.

This little girl was me. A girl, whose previous piano experience consisted of an entire year of ‘Mary Had a Little Lamb’. I must say that after months of practicing this extremely challenging composition, I had created quite a theory for myself. I honestly believed, that with enough time, I could play any song starting on any given note. As you can imagine, I had absolutely no clue, as to how demanding the piano really was. So it is needless to say, that THIS Mary had a little challenge. To tell you the truth, I don’t exactly remember what I first played for Mary, but I remember coming out of her house with an entire book which I was told to practice for the next lesson. Oooh, the fights that went on at home every day. Every day consisted of a routine of whining, complaining, and unbearably annoying tears. This however, did not help me any. Somehow, my mother found the patience to sit with me and make sure I played, and somehow, Mary had the faith in me, to continue pushing my potential until this very day.

Every Tuesday, from then on, I would approach her house, open the unlocked, welcoming door, and make my way up her stairs. Each time I went up I was greeted by an ornate Bach invention, or a Beethoven sonata, or some Chopin waltz, dancing jovially through her halls. The more I went, the more stories I suddenly had to share, and the more I felt part of this indescribable musical bubble. Despite the fact that I still drove my mother crazy at home, it was as if some transformation came over me as I stepped through the door and sat in front of the black and white keys. Although my stubborn and mischievous self could never let my mom see a glimpse of the joy that these Tuesdays brought me, I shared this secret light with Mrs. Huang.

To call Mrs. Huang a teacher, a friend, a second parent are all understatements. There are no words to describe how amazing she truly is. She is the one who told me what I was wearing my first lesson. I don’t remember what I wore to prom two weeks ago, yet she, somehow, remembers what rags my tomboyish self decided to throw on that morning. When Mrs. Huang sees me, she sees an entire me. From the little girl until the person you see standing before you today. She knows every scar and every story, all of my strengths and also my weaknesses. She can tell from my voice when I’m stressed, or when I haven’t gotten enough sleep because I stayed up late working on a project. And it is with this care and attention that she treats each and everyone of her students. A warm, compassionate, tender understanding that not even the richest Chopin Etude could express.

There are things in life that you think will always happen to somebody else. For me, that was growing up. For me, that was today. I look at you, with this entire journey still ahead of you, and today I am your somebody. But at some point in time, believe it or not, it will be you. So embrace it now, every single note you are able to play, because someday, you will be standing where I am, and you wont believe how quickly it passed by. You won’t believe that your name is printed on the back of the program. Suddenly your Tuesdays will seem empty because you aren’t climbing the beckoning staircase; instead, you are working on a procrastinated term paper. But you will also be leaving with two best friends with a lifetime guarantee – the piano, and always and forever, Mrs. Huang. I will never forget what you have done for me. Thank you for everything.