Practice makes perfect. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. Success is when preparation meets opportunity.
All of these sayings describe the piano playing combination of Norwell’s Ina and Aiden Cui – ages 11 and 8, respectively — who both recently performed well in the South Shore Conservatory’s concerto competition.
“Apples don’t fall far from the tree, but they work hard, too,” said Kathy Czerny, the Cuis’ piano teacher and president of the conservatory.
Ina said she practices for about 90 minutes per day and her favorite song to play is Pachebel’s Canon in D.
“It’s very creative,” she said of playing the piano.
Czerny said the kids compete regularly in competitions where they need to learn the composition of an entire concerto. When students at the conservatory play concertos, part of the requirement is for them to memorize the music. Ina’s most recent concerto was almost eight minutes long but she had it all in her head.
Another piano player will accompany a performer by playing the orchestral part. In some cases, the conservatory’s master piano player, who happens to be Ina and Aiden’s mother, HuiMin Wang, will be the one to accompany the kids.
“I have been playing piano since I was 4-years old,” Wang said. “I went to the Academy of Music in Germany and studied in Austria.” Wang also attended the New England Conservatory.
Wang said recitals and workshops are held regularly at the conservatory to try and remove some of the nerves kids might have.
“Growing up in Taiwan, we didn’t have workshops or recitals. We only had one [event] at the end of each semester,” Wang explained. “We want our children feeling positive; it doesn’t matter what they play.”
Czerny said the conservatory offers private lessons to roughly 1,000 students ranging from age 3 to age 106.
With the multitude of students associated with the conservatory, there is always a recital coming up. Wang said there is a piano festival scheduled for March 24 with the theme “Around the World in 80 Minutes.” The event seeks to raise money for a scholarship fund.
Even with their steady diet of practice and competition, the Cuis still find time for another passion: Judo. Ina has participated in the martial art for four years while Aiden has studied for more than two years.
“Ina’s pretty tough,” Wang said.
Both kids said that, even though they perform often and practice every day, competition still makes them nervous.
“I’m more confident, but I still get nervous,” Ina said.