A Paderewski Medal 10 Years in the Making: Daniel Zhu's Story


     The Paderewski Medal is an award given by the American College of Musicians for playing 10 piano pieces for 10 years.  I was able to get my Paderewski Medal on July 1, 2019, an effort that took me from 3rd to 12th grade. Although constant practice helped me on this journey, I believed that my experience with the Tacy Foundation and Ms. Holliday was the main reason why I had succeeded in obtaining the Paderewski Medal.

            When I first began practicing piano under Ms. Holliday, I did not know why I had to perform in recitals. Couldn’t I just practice at home? Nevertheless, I began to play at recitals at Asbury Methodist Village. Then I started playing at NIH concerts. Before I knew it, I was involved in many Tacy Foundation activities, from recording CDs to teaching students in Piano Pals.

As I became more involved, I was able to talk to other piano players, seniors, and children, learning about their lives and how they view music. Through these experiences, I have come to realize that music is just as important as disciplines such as math and science. It can help people recover from disease, especially neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s. It gives them a window from which they can view the world in a different light. It gives them hope.

I was awed by the impact of my music. It inspired me to work harder on my pieces for each recital, each recording sessions, each lesson, so that I can infuse more life into my music. I saw the performers at BlackRock and the way they danced upon the keyboard, and my desire to emulate them motivated me to continue with Guild Auditions even when schoolwork seemed to overwhelm me.

As I look back on these 10 years, my thoughts on music have changed. I do not think about Guild Auditions and how tedious practice is. Instead, they flock to this idea: How can I share this piece with others? How can I bring my joy of music to others?

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