From a very young age, I have been exposed to classical music from a wide variety of sources; indeed, it has been almost as much a part of my life as eating, breathing, and playing. I’m not sure of the exact extent to which this exposure has impacted my playing, but my musical experiences stem back as far as I can remember. I have always had a special attraction towards classical music that I believe has helped me develop and refine my passion for the piano.
One of the earliest stories that my mom told me is that my favorite word as a one-and-a-half year-old toddler was “Hallelujah” from the “Hallelujah Chorus” of Handel's Messiah. I wasn’t one to talk or babble much at that age, but had such a strong affinity for this piece that I continually wanted to listen, move, and sing with it. I kept interjecting “Hallelujah” at the end of sentences or just anytime that it could have been remotely appropriate, even greeting a few visitors this way.
However, my bonding with music was not limited to my home experiences. When I was about four, I was taken shopping and came across one of those CD teaser machines. It was playing Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata”. I had never heard the Moonlight before and it stopped me dead in my tracks. I refused to walk around the rest of the store with my family as I had to keep listening to it. After begging my father to buy it for me, to no avail, I persuaded my mom to allow me to use my birthday money to purchase it. I still have that CD today.
One of my strongest memories is of my first orchestral experience with the Columbus Symphony Orchestra, also when I was four years old. At intermission, it was already far past my usual bedtime, so my parents decided that it would best to leave. I had been enjoying the music so much that I started bawling as my parents carried me outside of the theatre and across the street to the parking lot. I didn’t stop until I fell asleep in our car driving home.
So, what is the impact of early exposure to music? For me, it was obviously a profound connection to classical music that continues to grow today; these early musical experiences helped to greatly strengthen this connection.