Talented pianist makes music her priority

February 6, 2010 — by Parul Singh and Christine Tseng

Christina Wu sits down at her Yamaha C-5 grand piano at home, turning the metronome to a fast pace of 176 beats per minute. A second passes, then a burst of sound as Wu starts her daily warmup: several scales of 16th notes, going up a fifth each time until she reaches the top, then coming back down.

Wu, a junior, has been studying piano ever since she was six after discovering a liking and skill for the instrument.

“I’ve always been very intrigued by piano,” said Wu. “I had a natural talent for it.”

Wu has already passed the Certificate of Merit Advanced level test and is preparing to go to a panel in February for “pianists who are artistically and technically polished to a near-professional level.” Interestingly enough, Wu has never been able to take part in competitions because of her constantly changing teachers. As well, Wu said she did not take piano as seriously before her sophomore year.

“My parents were never pushy; my mom in fact, rejected my teacher’s invitation for me to compete when I was 7, because she thought piano was just a fun thing for me to do,” said Wu.

Wu is currently studying with Santa Clara University’s Hans Boepple, a soloist with more than 40 years of experience.

“I had a very special connection at Interlochen, [a music program], during the summer; my instructor there has studied with Mr. Boepple during college and is very close to him, so he pretty much opened the door for me,” said Wu. “The professor doesn’t just meet anyone.”

Boepple believes that Wu still has a chance to “catch up in the competition experience, and as he is a member of the Music Teacher’s Association of California (MTAC), Wu is participating in the MTAC competition this year. The MTAC is a huge competition in which people from both Northern and Southern California will be competing.

Wu, however, does not only aim to win competitions. She hopes to go on to a conservatory or music school later on and become a teacher or performer.

Wu ‘s lifelong dream is to play in Carnegie Hall and she really wants to go to the Curtis Institute of Music, Eastman School of Music, or Julliard for college.

Besides the piano, Wu also plays the oboe and guitar and previously was in percussion. She played in the Redwood band and El Camino Youth Symphony, or ECYS, but discontinued due to her heightened commitment to piano.

“Although I’ve always wanted to do band in high school, I couldn’t because of my devotion to piano. That’s also why I had to quit ECYS this year,” said Wu.

To be able to do well in piano, Wu needs to take classes that allow her to have less homework and instead practice three to four hours every day. Her school and social life is also affected by her love of piano and the time that she dedicates to it.

“My schoolwork is a lot easier,” said Wu. “I basically take easy classes––no APs or Honors––at school so I can practice. That also gives me the opportunity to express myself elsewhere. I also don’t really go on family vacations because I can’t practice there.”

Wu’s favorite types of music are, interestingly enough, not only classical-like music.

“I love classical and hardcore, like screamo stuff. My favorite classical music period is definitely romantic,” said Wu.

As many other juniors find themselves immersed in AP Biology or AP Calculus in the evening, Christina finds herself back at the piano. A gentle melody slowly flows from the keys, enveloping the small room with Schubert’s Impromptu in B flat major “Rosamund.” She is at peace and in her element.

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