Sixth grader Gia Antolini, 11, is a study of focus and intent as she plays Frederic Chopin's Prelude Op. 28 No. 20" and "Sonatina in C Major" by Muzio Clementi. The dainty young girl sits down at the piano, and without any sheet music, plays both pieces with enthusiasm and poise.
The young Bethel resident won the Bethel Middle School Chopin Piano Competition held on March 8, 2012 at Bethel High School. Playing without sheet music was a requirement of the competition between Bethel's 6th, 7th and 8th grade musicians, most of whom had at least some formal training. Students were given only a few months to learn the same mandatory Chopin piece, and they were also able to choose a second selection of classical music of their own to perform for the competition.
“The competition was hard but fun at the same time,” Gia said, noting that she also is studying the violin at school.
Her mother, Paula Antolini said that the students were not allowed to hear the other students perform during the cpmpetition, but she also said, “Bethel has so much art talent in it. Mr Rombilus runs the music program and he is amazing.”
Gia has been studying the Suzuki method since she was three years old. One of her teachers, Helen Malyszka, director of the Suzuki Talent Education School, talked about Gia, “She is a good student, and she works hard, and a lot of our students work hard. The parents become the home teacher. If the parents are enthusiastic, then the children are. Not every child wants to practice, but Paula, her mom, has the enthusiasm, so that's why Gia has it.”
Gia thinks there is another reason. “Playing piano allows me to express my feelings. When I made a mistake....,” Shaking it off, she said, “Honestly every one made a mistake,” she smiled, forgiving herself. “This was my first competition, and I was really looking forward to it. I didn't hate it, it was really fun.”
Besides the piano, Gia runs track and field, and is weighing the options between growing up to become a teacher or an archeologist. “I don't really know what I want to be. It changes day by day,” she added.
Whatever she does decide, her straight As (“Hopefully,” she noted) and her well trained ear should carry her far.
Paula said, “Suzuki is not just about the music, they help you look at how to raise a good child, with praise. The process is so much between the child and parent. The parent takes notes, and it becomes something you do together.”