She's a member, too | NADIA AZZI

A member since 2012, Nadia Azzi attends the prestigious Julliard School (pre-college division) and Professional Performing Arts School. An award-winning piano prodigy, she played Carnegie Hall at age 11.

My happy place: When I am on the stage playing in front of an audience, I am the happiest. People’s positive reactions to my playing are priceless!

Mensa connection: During my frequent travel for performances, competitions, and music events, I’ve discovered my membership with Mensa gives lots of advantages. I was recently featured as a soloist with the New Philharmonic Orchestra in Wheaton, Ill., and the organizer contacted the local Mensa club, which I believe helped the success of the event. I even found out that my membership gives special discounts on travel, shopping, and even a chance to apply for scholarships!

Musical expression: I was an extremely shy child; I didn’t even speak a word for one full year during my preschool years. As I think about it now, perhaps playing piano might have been something I really needed to be able to express and communicate with people. I never performed with empty feelings. I always wanted to say something and leave something to the people who were listening…. Now, at age 15, I am able to talk in front of hundreds of people.

Emotional connection: Audience members have come up to me after my performance, saying things like, “You brought tears to my eyes,” or “You gave me goose bumps.” [Those comments] or receiving standing ovations make me feel I was really good enough to touch someone’s life. That kind of moment is the most rewarding experience for me.

Getting nervous: I do get nervous. If I am confident enough on my pieces, I try not to think about any details. Once I begin playing, I just focus on the sounds I am producing and what I want to communicate. Performing on stage at Carnegie Hall or some other big venue with great acoustics is my pride and joy. It’s very hard to explain, but it’s like playing above the clouds!

Missing out? After a competition or performance, I enjoy doing non-music-related activities for a night or a day. That’s really fun. But if that were to continue, I would miss being with a piano. Over the last few years, I have learned that there are no rewards or gains unless I put enough time in to practice or study. I enjoy the final result so much that I would be very upset if didn’t put in enough effort. So my answer is no, I don’t worry about missing my childhood.

Compare yourself to yourself: I strongly recommend enjoying the process of learning. Don’t look for the results all the time. Compare how you were doing in the past with how you are doing now, not how others are doing around you…. Music is very subjective, so I don’t expect everyone to like my playing. Criticisms are inevitable.

You can play: No one, not even the greatest players in the world, were born knowing how to play a musical instrument. They all had to start from scratch. With the desire to learn, good instruction, and discipline to practice, anybody can learn a musical instrument.

Sleepy time: My guilty pleasure is sleeping until noon. You’ll probably be surprised by this, but whenever there is no school, I sleep until noon or even later! I sleep whenever I get a chance.


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