Piano student Ariana McGhee, 16, of Aiken, acknowledges she gets nervous when she plays in front of an audience.
"It's just the fear of going up there," she said. "Once I'm up there at the piano, I just feel fine."
Evidently, she also plays well.
Ariana recently spent a week at Furman University to further her piano studies as the 2005 recipient of the Ruth Howard Scholarship, which is awarded each year by the Aiken Music Teachers Association.
She earned the $200 scholarship after she competed in Aiken's Go for the Gold Festival in March. The scholarship goes to the competitor who achieves the highest score in the solo and theory categories. In addition, the scholarship winner must be selected as one of the top performers by a special adjudicator.
"You were able to choose what you wanted to do with the money," said Ariana, a rising senior at Aiken High School.
She said each day at Furman began with a lecture and ended with recitals by faculty members. She also took an organ class.
Her piano instruction included a primary class of five students where they played and critiqued each other's performances. She also attended a master class in which only five of the students played each day.
Ariana, who has been playing the piano for nine years, has taken music lessons from Pat Adams since she moved to Aiken about four years ago.
"She's been a great influence. She's a Christian woman," said Ariana. "She encourages me a lot. In a way, she helps make me less nervous when I'm playing. She's an overall great person."
Ariana also performed for the Aiken Music Teachers Association on May 14. She played the first movement of Beethoven's Sonata in G Major, Op. 49 No. 2; Postludium Op. 13 No. 10 by Dohnanyi; Golliwog's Cakewalk, by Debussy; Two Ladies Gossiping, by Khachturian; and a jazz piece, Look at That Face. The audience included former piano instructor Ruth Howard.
"It was my way of saying 'thank you' for choosing me as the Ruth Howard recipient," Ariana said.
Reach Betsy Gilliland at (803) 648-1395, ext. 113, or firstname.lastname@example.org.