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BMS SPOTLIGHT: Susanna Kemp

Category: BMS NEWS Friday, April 4th, 2014 Susanna-Kemp_web

BMS student Susanna Kemp wrote an essay about her BMS piano teacher of seven years, Sara Chen, for the Brookline Commission for Women’s 22nd Annual “A Woman Who Inspires Me” Essay Contest. Susanna’s essay about Sara was awarded second place in the 8th grade category, and she and the other winners read their essays at a ceremony at the Brookline Public Library on March 31st.
 
“The Woman Who Inspires Me Most”
By Susanna Kemp
 
The woman who inspires me most is my piano teacher, Sara. I don’t like to define her as just “my piano teacher” because she is so much more than that to me. I want to recite a whole essay about her every time I mention her to anyone! Sara is not only a teacher but a friend and advisor. She perseveres more than anyone I know. The word “impossible” is not a part of her vocabulary. Sara can always come up with more than one strategy to solve a problem. If the first way doesn’t work, she’ll come up with another.

Sara immigrated to the United States from Taiwan in 1999, after she finished college. She didn’t know much about American culture and knew only a little English. She had no family or friends in the U.S. either. She knew it wouldn’t be easy but she decided to be brave and immigrate anyway, so that she could continue her piano studies. Sara can make friends faster than anyone I know. Last year she went to Europe and came back just a couple months later telling me about many friends she had made. When she came here she made friends right away and they helped her with her English and getting used American culture and ways.

Sara ChenAlthough Sara is my teacher, she is also a friend. When I first started taking piano lessons six years ago, I felt shy around her. It felt intimidating to be alone in a room with an adult I didn’t really know. But right away she made me feel comfortable. Now we joke around a lot. I talk to her as I would talk to a friend, not as formally as I’d talk to a teacher in school. Yet Sara is always serious about teaching and ready to show me something new. She’s able to be funny but stay focused.
 
I have never known Sara to give up on anything. Sometimes I go to a lesson, and she has dark circles under her eyes. When I ask what’s wrong, she tells me she was up until 3:00 a.m. trying to get one section of a song up to speed. She has worked on certain songs for years so that she can play them as close to perfect as possible. Once she came back from a visit to Taiwan (a thirteen-hour time difference) and didn’t cancel any lessons the next day, even though my 6:30 p.m. lesson felt like early morning to her. When she’s tired, she always acts peppy anyway. I admire that she can always be so excited, bubbly, and ready to share a story with me, no matter how exhausted she feels.
 
I know Sara will not be my piano teacher forever, but she will always be my friend and advisor. I will never stop looking up to her. She inspires me and teaches me new things not only about piano but about life every time I see her.