The seventh-grader straightened his bow tie and took the stage alone. The audience did not know it, but performing solo was not Yinuo Li's first choice. All they witnessed was a little guy playing Beethoven's Symphony No. 5 on piano as if he had played it 100 times before.
"I like to be with groups on stage in case I mess up,'' said Yinuo, a student at Morgan Fitzgerald Middle School.
There was no messing up for Yinuo, who also played the song Two Grenadiers by Schumann on violin and was among 22 performers during Saturday's Upper Pinellas Music Teachers Association Recital. The 60-minute show in the Music Gallery on Ulmerton Road was put on by students ranging in age from 5 to 17. There were pianists, violinists and vocalists.
"It gives the students a chance to see that performing on stage is so different than simply playing alone in a studio,'' said Talia Dillahey, president of the organization. "They realize they must play slower. The music sounds quicker to the audience."
The association, in its 39th year, is made up of 33 music teachers in northern Pinellas County.
Through the year, the teachers and their students join in student recitals, community outreach programs, chamber music festivals and several competitions.
Last year, the group initiated a scholarship program that benefits high school seniors who have studied all four years of high school with an association teacher.
For Stella Gaukhsteyn, a Clearwater music teacher who coordinated the event, the group serves as a great networking tool during these difficult economic times for teachers.
"But more important than that is sharing the love of music with the children,'' said Gaukhsteyn, who received her musical training at the Kiev Conservatory in the capital of Ukraine before the collapse of the Soviet Union. "Music comes to us first as lullabies and stays with us until the funeral Mass, and my biggest hope is that we give them a love of music for their whole life.''