Keys to success: a look into White Station’s pianists


At a competition in West Virginia, Jie Wang(11) is critiqued by a judge after she finishes her composition.

Whether it be for a sport, instrument or language—mastery takes time, dedication and an incredible amount of passion. At White Station High, Jie Wang (11), Catherine He (12) and Stephanie He (12) have spent the majority of their lives perfecting the art of piano.

They all began playing during their earlier years of elementary school. What started as a suggestion from their parents morphed into a love for music.

Piano now acts as a stress reliever for Jie Wang and Catherine He. When school gets to be too much, they play pieces that reflect their mood. With report cards quickly approaching, music offers an escape from the demands of school.

“When you play the piano, you stop feeling stressed. It’s like turning your head away from your homework and you start daydreaming—that’s the feeling,” Catherine He said.

Jie Wang, Stephanie He and Catherine He have found success in local and state competitions such as Tennessee Music Teacher Association and Greater Marietta Music Teacher Association. Although preparation for competitions can be stressful, they come with major benefits, including receiving prize money, meeting people all over the world and being taught by Grammy nominees.

“I love the thrill [of competitions]. It’s pretty cool to see other people play and to get critiqued,” Wang said.

The downside to these contests is that judges all have a different way of evaluating pianists.

“I’ve been to competitions and I didn’t win because the judge didn’t like my interpretation of the music,” Wang said. “I’ve had someone beat me for playing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star because the judges liked their interpretation better.”

The three have different end games as they continue playing, but ultimately, they all desire to keep it in their lives. It’s a familiar activity that has become ingrained in them.

“I can’t remember a time I didn’t play piano,” Wang said. “I can’t imagine not having it in my life.”