Classical music: Playing piano to clear my head

Nelson Gaillard

Composer Frederic Chopin suffered from performance anxiety throughout his career. I may not be Chopin, but I still get stomach butterflies before every concert. You’d probably think that after playing classical piano for twelve years and performing well over 100 times, the anxiety would go away, but it doesn’t. My heart beats a thousand times a second. However, the feeling I have after I perform is well worth the stage fright. No matter how cheesy this may sound, I feel more alive and energized after I play. Music is my wellness. It excites, exhilarates, and allows me to relax from the day’s stresses.

When I began piano lessons the summer between kindergarten and first grade, I became addicted. Hours at a time, I would sit in front of the piano, and “tickle the ivories,” as my dad likes to call it. Often, my parents would have to tell me to stop because they were on the phone or dinner was ready.

In the fall of fourth grade, I began attending Manhattan School of Music (MSM) for six days a week. Each Saturday, I have an ear training class, a music theory class, and my private lesson, together which occupy half of my weekend.

As I grew older and regular school began to intensify, I had less time to play. Sitting in front of the piano for 10 hours a week, learning a piece that I would perform one time, didn’t give me the satisfaction that I desired. Nevertheless, I remained a part of MSM. There, I could analyze the minute, fascinating details that went into creating such masterpieces.

Classical music allows me to be in the moment, to push aside everything that made me anxious during that day. Just by playing it in the background, I feel more relaxed. The “Mozart Effect” is known to improve mental performance simply with ambient instrumental music. Scientific studies have also shown that classical music helps you sleep better by slowing your brain activity.

The question, “Is it worth it?” looms in the back of my head. But, the 99.99 percent of me that has devoted over 12 years to the art, not because my parents make me, but because I am genuinely intrigued, says “absolutely.” Music makes me happy, and is something that I could not imagine my life without.