Last month, the Tacy Foundation provided the amazing opportunity for me to perform at the Children’s Hospital in DC. I was introduced to the Tacy Foundation when I was searching for a place to practice performing my senior recital. Though I was originally just looking for a place to practice for a big concert, what I found was much more meaningful: a community of musicians, coordinators, and organizations that work together to make a difference in the lives of many people.
My program consisted of two sonatas (Faure and Prokofiev) and two show pieces (Vitali’s Chaconne and Saint-Saens’s Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso.) My mom, Ann Kramschuster, has a doctorate in piano performance and was kind enough to learn the incredibly difficult sonata scores and play with me for both my senior recital and the Children’s Hospital concert. I absolutely love playing with her, mainly because it is so easy for us to communicate verbally and musically. It’s also nice that rehearsal constraints are virtually nonexistent. I am incredibly lucky to have her as both a cheerleader and amazing pianist.
Performing at the Children’s Hospital was different than any concert that I had done previously; it changed the way I think about what music can accomplish. The concert took place in the hospital atrium, a beautiful waiting room and central gathering place. It has a small stage on one wall with tables and chairs in the center. There is a room where visitors can buy snacks, drinks, and gifts and an area where patients can listen to books being read aloud and get pictures taken with superheroes.
With so much going on, I knew I would not always be the primary focus of those who stayed to listen. However, instead of feeling like I was competing with Spiderman, Captain America, and Wonder Woman, I felt that we were all working together to create an environment that made the day brighter for parents, patients, and staff.
Another realization that shifted my views on how to perform was the knowledge that some people would only hear me for a few seconds. That meant I could still use those few seconds to make a difference in their day. While I played, I had to balance telling an overarching musical story to those who stayed to listen while also drawing in the hearts and minds of those who were simply passing through. Being introduced to that duality of thinking, made me fundamentally change the way I perform to make my playing more meaningful and effective.
Playing at Children’s Hospital was such a moving experience, from seeing children on their way to something else asking their families to stop and listen to watching a small child climb up on the stage with me while she smiled and stared.
As I go to Peabody Conservatory next fall, I will continue to pursue performing in “untraditional” venues like the Children’s Hospital and bringing live music to those who don’t have easy access. I am so grateful to the Tacy Foundation for enabling me to participate in a new kind of performance.