Playing Piano in Public Helps Build Community

Student & PIF Co-founder Chime in on the Value of Performance

Heaven-Fay Mae Scroggins turns 13 this July, and at that point, will be veteran of more than half that number of piano recitals.

On June 7, Heaven-Fay will perform her seventh recital as a Play It Forward student. The youngster enrolled with PIF four years ago and learned of the free lesson program through the Bravo Youth Orchestra when she was a student at George Middle School in Portland. Now a home-schooled seventh grader, Heaven-Fay sums up why she enjoys playing piano succinctly.

“I love how it sounds and where the music takes you.”

Recitals are an important part of PIF’s mission to create the “C” in Music M.A.G.I.C. – Community, along with Mental Wellness, Agility, Grit and Independence. PIF uses recitals to show parents, teachers and community members how far its students have progressed as well as to build experiential ties between audience members and children.

Heaven-Fay says she tries “not to be nervous” when playing for the public, but enjoys “seeing the smiling faces” of her family members in the audience when she plays.

“I feel accomplished and proud,” she says.

Her instructor, Michael Allen Harrison, PIF’s co-founder, notes the feelings Heaven-Fay experiences are precisely what a recital should bring to a student. He compared the satisfaction a child experiences playing live to what a student athlete feels when making a layup in a basketball game and hearing the roar of the crowd.

“These are important things for the development of children,” he says, noting hearing compliments from strangers, in particular, can make a child bond with the wider community.

“There’s nobody out there in the audience that wants you to fail,” he says. “They’re there to experience what you’re sharing.”

Everyone may be rooting for a child playing a recital, but Harrison and Heaven-Fay both note the key to making it truly memorable experience is preparation.

“I record my sessions to see room for improvements and play pop songs,” Heaven-Fay says when asked how she prepares.

“The more prepared you are, the more you will lessen the opportunity to be hard on yourself,” Harrison adds, noting nervousness can be a hurdle students need to overcome before taking the stage. “The only way to get through these kinds of feelings of anxiety and nervousness is to prepare and perform. The more you perform the less anxiety you have.”

And like Heaven-Fay and Harrison note, the pay-off for all your hard work comes when family and strangers alike greet your recital with applause and acclaim.

“That’s what recitals are for,” Harrison says. “We come together to lift each other up.”