Pedro Aguilar: Behind the Musicians at OHS


Pedro Aguilar

Pedro playing Chopin’s Fantasie Impromptu at the OHS Summer 2021 Talent Show.

Among the many talented Pixels who showcased their skill at the OHS Talent Show, Pedro Aguilar, playing Frederic Chopin’s Fantasie Impromptu, caught the audience’s attention with his profound playing. Intricately weaving his fingers through the ivory keys, Pedro displayed the love he has both for his instrument and this piece in particular.

Having played the piano since he was six years old, Pedro’s fascination for this instrument started with his mother. 

“She [mother] used to play like some pieces and stuff… I just had that incentive and motivation to follow that path.” 

Alongside the influence of his mother’s playing, the mysteries behind a locked piano in his home intrigued a young Pedro and pushed him towards exposing the beautiful sound that lay beneath. 

“Why don’t you open it?” Pedro would often question his mother. 

The fateful day arrived when Pedro’s curiosity finally won her over, and his mother unlocked the piano for him. With that, Pedro’s journey with the piano began. 

“I would literally just get up and before eating breakfast, I would go to the piano and practice a bit – just for fun… not really because of habit. I know many musicians have this routine, okay this is the warm-up, this is where I practice, but no – for me, it’s just fun.”

Before attending OHS, Pedro had time to play an hour of piano every day recreationally, taking three hour-long lessons with his teacher every week. Now, amidst adjusting to his challenging courses, Pedro has yet to find the perfect balance between his academics and piano playing. 

“I get lucky if I get to play 15 minutes a day,” he laughs, thankful for the amount of time he has to retreat to the keys for a break from the whirlwind of school work. 

“It’s not only homework, you know? It’s not only the labs and stuff, it’s reading for the class, and all this stuff – I think that’s the most time-consuming thing. I’m literally getting up at 6 am and going to sleep at about 11:30 pm, so – I’m trying to do that to just fit in my extracurriculars.” 

Although Pedro is yet to find his happy medium within balancing schoolwork and the piano, he explains how his time indoors during the Covid-19 pandemic had both its negative and positive effects on his playing. 

“The [piano] classes themselves are not the same, because I used to sit at the piano and my teacher was like sitting next to me and he would just like look at what I was doing and tell me how it sounded.” 

The vital dynamics which took place between Pedro and his teacher in person are now lost through the screen. 

Although online classes have hindered his progress in learning the piano, Pedro realized that he shouldn’t solely rely on his teacher or other external sources for help when learning new pieces. Finding the good within what feels to be a void of bad in this pandemic, Pedro now knows that he can be independent and proactive in learning new passages of music. 

It is this new attitude towards learning pieces that prompted Pedro to take on Fantasie Impromptu

 “I printed it out, I- I don’t know, I thought it was going to be easy… I learnt it over the summer [of 2020] by myself, like that was the moment I realized I was getting good at the piano, like actually getting good.” 

The first thing I need to fit in is piano, if I don’t have time for anything else, I won’t have time for anything else – and that’s fine. But piano, I just can’t leave, that’s not an option.

— Pedro Aguilar

Another obstacle Pedro has faced during his time playing the piano are mental blocks. Whether you are a musician or athlete, everyone experiences these annoyingly meddlesome thoughts when pursuing the activity they love most. Pedro encountered most of his own mental blocks when he first started out. 

“I remember this time, when I was six years old… My teacher was trying to teach me a hard tempo… and I sat for hours crying on the piano because I couldn’t get it.” 

Rather than succumbing to the feeling of defeat, Pedro stayed by the piano’s side. With his morals urging him to be patient and not give up, Pedro was able to master the harder tempo.

Pedro shared his own advice on how to overcome mental blocks.

“I know it’s not getting there today because today I just learned the passage, but I know tomorrow it’s going to work, right?” 

Waiting for the next day is pivotal in allowing your mind to get accustomed to the material you learned today, something we’ve all perhaps experienced, yet neglect to remember.

“You’re not going to get any better, because you’re frustrated and you’re already in that muscle memory? You build temporary muscle memory, that is wrong.”

Looking back at the piece he performed at the talent show, Pedro finds that Fantasie Impromptu is one of the most enjoyable pieces he’s ever played. In six months, Pedro learned the piece in all of its nuances: the first three months spent forming a sort of rough from which he worked off of. 

However, Pedro believes that, “With time, it doesn’t matter how long you think you’ve mastered a piece, you can always find something else you can add to make it a bit more fun… That’s definitely my favorite piece to play.” 

Unlike Pedro’s other extracurriculars, like karate and playing the violin, which he’s had to put on hold while adjusting to OHS, Pedro is adamant about never leaving the piano. 

“I can’t leave that, for the love of my life – no! That just has to stay there. So, I need to find a way to fit in, maybe a small space where I can practice and stuff,” he says. 

Pedro’s complete adoration and love for this instrument push him to find that balance between his coursework and music. 

“The first thing I need to fit in is piano, if I don’t have time for anything else, I won’t have time for anything else – and that’s fine,” he says, “But piano, I just can’t leave, that’s not an option.” 

The attachment one has to the instrument they play may sometimes stem from the fact that they’d otherwise be lost without it. In Pedro’s case, the piano is part of his identity. 

“You can’t leave it, it’s your thing. That’s your therapy, right? That’s where you go when you have nothing else to do.”