Sunday, September 6, 2009

The Difficult Road to a Career in Music

Koreans have a gift for music: they do extremely well in musical competitions throughout the world. The Catholic Times tells us how a high school student Gwak Ki-ae (Theresa) won the pipe organ competition for high school students this past month. She started playing the piano at the age of 7 in the neighborhood church. After three years with no formal lessons, she took first prize in the national competition for elementary school children.

Because of her families difficult financial situation she wasn't able to take any serious piano lessons. But the remarkable ability that she showed at the piano caused the people in the neighborhood to see her as a child prodigy. She was asked to play the accompaniment for the Masses in her parish with an old organ that they received. She fell in love with the organ and went to bigger churches to use their organs. Playing the organ which required her feet along with her hands and hearing the majestic sound of the music was enough for her to turn her attention to the pipe organ. The Cathedral Parish in Chongju had an academy for organ and she decided to attend; returning home she would go to the church and push on to late hours practicing the organ. Her father found himself out of work when she was going into high school so Theresa felt that music would require too much money and decided to go into nursing.

In preparation for college she discontinued the study of organ for two years to give herself to her studies full time. However she could not extinguish the desire she had for the organ and she again went back during her third year of high school thanks to a teacher at the school. Just a few months after returning to the organ she took first place in the Taegu competition and 3rd place in the Seoul College competition for students.

She has wondered why she has had to face these difficulties in her desire to learn the organ. Her answer is that God wants to prepare her with more passion and zest in her desire to become an accomplished organist.

She is now dreaming of entering the School for Fine Arts for organ. Through the auspices of her high school teacher she has been given the opportunity to take individual lessons from a college teacher. She thanks all who have helped her and have encouraged her. She is grateful to the teacher who is giving her lessons and the family that is taking care of her in Seoul.

There are many who are in the same position as Theresa and some are not as fortunate. Theresa is getting the help necessary to follow her dream of a musical career and is very grateful to all who have made it possible.

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