Nurturing the Creativity of a Piano Prodigy

12-year-old Katherine Liu has been playing piano since age 3 and made her Carnegie Hall debut at the age of 10. Katherine is introduced and interviewed by Gerald Slavet, CEO and co-founder of From the Top, America’s largest national platform dedicated to celebrating the stories, talents and character of classically trained young musicians. The performance begins with an ingenious and inspiring musical video by Katherine and two other From the Top young musicians, “Fantastic Musicians and Where to Find Them,” a brilliant nod to JK Rowling. Speaking with Slavet, Katherine shares insights into her dedication and training, then masterfully performs Chopin’s Etude Op.10 No. 5, and finishes with Chopin’s Scherzo No. 2.

Gerald Slavit many of you may have met here last year is the co-founder of from the top it's America's largest national platform dedicated to celebrating the stories the talents and the character of classically trained young musicians jury will be here in a moment to introduce Catherine Lou an amazing 12 year old classical pianist but before Gerald and Catherine take the stage turn your attention please to the big screens and let us introduce you to some of the work of Catherine and her colleagues at from the top [Music]
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hello everybody i'm gerry Slavit that magical 11 and 12 year old kids it's amazing so first of all thanks Randy for inviting from the top back to take part in imagine solutions once again from the top we are a nonprofit organization a national organization based in Boston and you've been told that we celebrate the amazing talented young classically trained musicians from all over this country why do we do this you know it's great that in our society we celebrate our young athletes and make heroes out of them but isn't it about time that we celebrate our young artists as well absolutely saw one earlier today
wouldn't be a shame if that fabulous guitarist was just shuttled off to the hinterlands and you'll be meeting another one quite soon and how do we celebrate these kids we have a weekly NPR radio show that's broadcast on more than 200 stations around the country you can listen to us online at our website from the top and of course you can podcast us we do live performances like this and all of our shows are taped in front of a live audience as a concert we have a really fascinating arch leadership program we're in every kid shouldn't even call them kids every young musician who comes on our show goes through a workshop with us so that we give them the tools to take the music out into the community beyond the concert hall you heard earlier this morning about the extraordinary work done at two children's hospitals we've actually been developing a program with Boston Children's Hospital where we take kids into the hospital to perform for
other kids we also have a very robust scholarship program we've given away over two million dollars to any young musician who's good enough to come on the show and come from a truly financially needy background I think last year of the 20 scholarships we gave the average gross family income with something like thirty six thousand dollars pretty extraordinary to watch a young person like that and you just saw the video that's part of our youtube video series called see the music and we're lucky to have with us one of those musicians please welcome from Boston twelve-year-old pianist Katherine Lou Katherine hello alright so we saw all that stuff in the video but what are you going to bring for us right now right
now I am going to play Chopin Lackey ated all right when you're ready as we say take it from the top [Applause] [Music]
[Applause] wonderful as always I it's so joyful and then five years from now you see these young musicians all grown up and flourishing in the world I've got to start off with a mundane question is that I've never seen you do that before what are you doing when you're reaching the sides of the piano before you play uh what I'm doing is checking that my position isn't too tight and I'm able to play all the notes ranging from the deep end to the very high part of the piano keyboard so what grade are you in what grade are you in I'm in sixth grade sixth grade what are your favorite
subjects well there isn't a subject I don't like but my particular favorite is math and all my friends are like math math are you serious you love math we just like okay guys there's nothing wrong with loving that so but your love of math gets expressed in some interesting ways tell everyone about the award you received recently a mess well the math kangaroo competition is a math contest and I placed first in Massachusetts and ranked second nationally that's I know in your spare time because from the top none of us ever likes the word prodigy because it takes extraordinary hard work so you
excel in math what else do you do in addition to your music anything oh I love to dance so when you love to dance I do you express your dance what dance do you do well I dance ballet and I've been doing that since I was four and does that take a little time to practice yeah and the reason that we don't like the word prodigy is how much do you practice your music in addition to everything else that you do well on a regular school day I aim for three to four hours but on an off day or on vacation I aim for six to eight hours so it's pretty extraordinary the things that we like to say whether they're performing for an audience like you or if they're in an elementary school or a high school it's like you know anyone who learns discipline passion and focus
will probably succeed at whatever they do and those are the principles that you so represent and it is that hard work that makes it all happen so what was that video and before that you can see online if you go online the star wars video that she did with those same two other young people what was most interesting about the head had you done anything like that before well before that which is fantastic musicians and where to find them and before Star Wars hadn't done much with popular music or popular tunes what was exciting about it for you or what's it exciting oh of course it was exciting well as a pianist you don't usually get to work with a lot of other musicians but there we got to sit three people on the same bench trying to reach the same notes so that was fun and another thing as you saw was we got to do a lot of costume changes
and of course adding that to acting while playing at the same time it's a big combination but all the same time it's incredibly exciting you know so many of the young musicians who come on the show have worked hard in their classical music field and unfortunately many of them have not had a chance to improvise a lot did this give you that opportunity yes at school I've been taking jazz and that was because I decided I wanted to learn something a little more not classical and I thought that jazz would be a good thing for me to try so do you have any idea how many people have viewed your videos why not according to other people two million yeah but two million so what is that like in school to your friends at school know about your life as a canvas in a video star well now they do in math class forms and I wasn't in the same math class because that's cool I was
able to switch a grade 2 7th grade math but anyways they googled my name and they wrote in Katherine Lou piano and I was like ok guys that's so flattering you searched up my name and he said hey we found the star wars video it was awesome you have to make another one I said oh I recently just made fantastic musicians and where to find them and they're like hey let's Google that again I'm just like friends you guys are so nice and then they click on it and you saw there's the Einstein part when I was staring into the camera they replayed that for 100 times before I beg them to stop well you're a wonderful young lady and I love interacting with you you have a final piece of music for us the final piece of music I'll be playing is the scare zone number two by Chopin it's all yours [Applause]
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