During my mid teens, I remember performing Mozart’s Fantasia in D minor for the grade 9 piano category in Guelph Kiwanis Music Festival. There was a good handful of students in this class. I didn’t have a lot of experience performing in competition, so as with many young performers, my nerves got the best of me.
Sitting down at the grand piano, the church full of attentive parents, I tried to start.
Though I had spent a great deal of time preparing this piece, my mind went completely blank. Gee, where do I begin? I stared blankly at the keyboard.
Witnessing my consternation, the adjudicator tried to get me back in the game by asking, “What is the key to the music?”
Thinking that this was some kind of musical koan, I gave it some deep thought. The key to the music. What does she mean? …Yes, I know, it’s passion, it’s love, it’s inspiration! Then I answered, “Um, feeling?”
“No!” she replied, “I mean what key is the music in?” as if she were saying, “well, duh!”
Ah… That’s what she meant. Fantasia in… Fantasia in… D minor!
That was much more concrete. It was just what I needed to get on track and start the piece.
Now that I’m older though, I really do think that the key to the music is “feeling”. You can know your key, your rhythms and your technique but it is emotion that injects music with life.