Making the talent work: Creating a young musician
When Abbie Heim started playing piano nine years ago, she
wasn't convinced it was for her.
"I didn't like it much," she said, "but no kid likes to
Heim stuck with music, though, and somewhere along the
way she fell in love with it. Now the 16-year-old is
planning to pursue a career teaching others to play piano.
Heim is one of numerous talented young musicians in
Greater Lafayette. Many started playing when they were only
5 or 6 years old.
Like players on a basketball court or a football field,
musicians have to spend long hours honing their skills.
Chaconne Klaverenga has already become an accomplished
classical guitar player at the age of 15. She says being a
young musician requires both talent and hard work.
"It's about half and half," Klaverenga said. "Because you
could try really hard and not have any talent at all or you
could have great talent and waste it by not doing anything.
You have to have both to really make it work."
Harold Hooper, an instructor at McGuire's Music in
Lafayette, has been teaching guitar for more than 40 years.
He's worked with students for as long as nine years
straight, but said the real secret to developing a musical
talent is having a passion to play.
"You need to look for music you want to play," Hooper
always tells his students, especially those first starting
Piano instructor Janet Whipple of Lafayette, who's
working with Heim, agrees that picking familiar music can
often help hook younger students. Especially with some of
her younger male students, Whipple has sometimes turned to
sports themes or other catchy songs.
Whipple remembers needing a little motivation herself
when she was learning to play years ago.
"Three years into it, I wanted to quit," she recalls.
"But I was afraid to tell my parents because we'd invested
all of this money into lessons and stuff."
Just adding some Disney songs and familiar church music
to her repertoire helped get Whipple through her slump and
her interest in piano ultimately blossomed into a career.
Darrell Hunt, a guitar instructor with McGuire's, credits
the great music he listened to growing up -- including Van
Halen and Led Zeppelin -- with building his interest in
playing. He started teaching himself guitar in the sixth
grade and it eventually became his main interest.
"It's what I did. School, homework, friends, family kind
of all just got in the way of it," he said, with a laugh.
Hunt said it's rare today to see a truly dedicated young
musician. He thinks it's partly due to the busy schedules
children keep and the many distractions they have -- such as
computers, video games and TV.
Both Heim and Klaverenga stay busy with schedules
centered largely around their music.
In addition to the piano, Heim has played violin since
age 5 and the trombone since the fifth grade. She's active
in her school band, church orchestra and the Wabash Valley
Klaverenga has been performing on her guitar in national
and international competitions during the past year. She
spends about three-and-a-half hours practicing classical
guitar each day and additional time working on the piano.
Klaverenga knows she's had to give up some of her free
time and time with friends to focus on playing, but says
"it's worth it."
And Heim agrees, adding her advice to other young people
getting started with music: "Wait it out. The first few