Young musical prodigy is aiming big
The music from the keyboard belies the pig-tailed, incisors-yet-to-arrive grin from the pianist.
Her tiny fingers dance across the ivories, delivering a rhapsody of Bach, Chopin, Schumann and more.
Classical pianist 7-year-old Emma Taggart will be heading to Italy in mid-July to take part in the Varallo International Music Festival, joining top pianists from the U.S., Mexico, Italy and Japan. She will receive intense, one-on-one instruction from some of the top master pianists in the world.
"I'll be back just before my birthday," she reports of her Aug. 2 return to Blaine, her hometown.
But Sunday, she'll make a stop in Hubbard, performing a concert at 7 p.m. at Hubbard United Methodist Church, her grandparents, Long Lake residents Margi and Ron Taggart, members.
The pianist, who began lessons at 4, can play octaves now, thanks to growing fingers. "But I have to sit on the edge of bench" to reach the pedals, she reports.
At 18 months, parents and mentors Jared and Teresa Taggart, began to discern Emma's ability. The clock would chime and Emma would sing the exact notes.
"Daddy tests me by playing a note; I can name it," Emma said.
Her first teacher, Mary Carloni, would tell her not to memorize her pieces - as a challenge. It simply comes naturally.
Carloni soon referred the gifted musician to Julliard-trained Dr. Reid Smith in White Bear Lake. She debuted in her first recital at 5, and has appeared as a soloist in the school's honors concert series.
At Level 5 etudes, mom Teresa assumed it to be a mistake when Emma returned from lessons with a Level 10 book. No mistake.
She now practices Chopin etudes. "The right hand's easy, but the left hand..."
Emma practices four hours, nearly every day, but with no complaints.
A gifted gymnast, she had to quit those lessons, due to time constraints.
"So at recess, I formed a gymnastics club," the resourceful Nova Classical Academy student said.
Last year, Emma auditioned and was chosen to play in an international piano festival and competition in Gabala, Azerbaijan, a former Russian republic.
At the end of the festival, Emma was one of two pianists selected to play at an honors concert at Steinway Hall in New York, the date yet to be determined.
She admits to being nervous, initially, but the music engages her, the keyboard her domain.
Her 15-piece recital Sunday will be "paperless."
And it will likely be preceded by some fishing with her brother, Jacob, 3, who has announced he's interested in football, not piano.
"I caught six fish last time," she proudly announced. "But I won't bait, unless it's corn."
"She's still a normal little girl," her grandmother said.
Emma's advice to kids learning to play the piano: Persevere.
"It's hard at first, but it gets better," she counsels.
A reception will follow Sunday's concert. Freewill donations will be received to defray costs for the trip to the Varallo International Music Festival.