Piano Prodigy Performs
Abby Huang’s musicality is obvious as her tiny fingers glide over the keys of the ebony baby grand. Eyes closed, she sways to the music while playing the 17-page Haydn Concerto in C Major by memory, a task she accomplished in less than a week.
The 8-year-old pianist performed Chopin C Sharp Minor at the Young Maestro Competition at Carnegie Hall last July, competing against 300 students from around the world. She commands the stage at national piano competitions, church social halls, senior living facilities and in front of a crowd of 20,000 at an Orlando Magic game. Abby thrives on the attention and has a flair for showmanship, yet has never had a single nervous moment, according to her mother, Wey Wey Wong.
Wong is a big proponent of the inclusive classrooms at UCP West Orange Charter School, which both her children attend. She credits the inclusion of students of all abilities for their compassion and self esteem.
“Inclusion really is the basic value of humanity,” Wong said. “We all need to feel connected and embraced.”
The Windermere family stumbled upon Abby’s precociousness by accident. Her mother was in the kitchen when she heard nursery rhymes played on the piano by her three-old daughter. No one used the family piano, which was more for decoration than entertainment and Wong was astounded by her daughter’s creativity in melding the tunes together. Her musical aptitude is known as “having an ear” for music and Abby can replay pitch perfect songs immediately after hearing them.
At age 4, her parents found a piano teacher at the Garden Music School in Winter Garden and later bumped up her lessons to two days a week with two advanced instructors - one for musical theory and the other for musicality. Abby entered her first competition at age six and won with only a week’s practice on the piece.
Abby’s routine now includes an hour of daily practice after she gets home from school and she plays competition pieces with a practice buddy weekly, along with three hours of practice on weekends.
The schedule may sound tough but the petite powerhouse takes swim breaks in her backyard pool, plays with her fifth-grade brother, JJ, and will call a halt to a practice session when she’s tired.
“It’s every parent’s fantasy to have a child like this,” said Wong, who calls her daughter a “piano prodigy.” But people don’t realize the pressure to get Abby’s maximum potential while letting her be a child. There are so many more chapters to write.”
Wong said Abby has an IQ of 140 but has delays in reading comprehension. Her music teachers are working with her to read sheet music.
Amanda Whitaker, Abby’s third grade teacher, describes Abby as loving and kind.
“She is a great friend to all of her classmates,” Whitaker said. “When we play music in the classroom, she loves to dance.”
Abby has a website at www.abigailhuang.com that includes videos showing off her expertise playing Beethoven, Chopin, Shumann and DeBussy classics. She also composes and records her own music on a Yamaha electric piano, then transfers it to an app that places the notes on sheet music. Wong, a computer engineer with Invoice Cloud, says Abby goes over the piece then makes corrections, if the app gets her notes wrong. Abby’s father owns Tasty China restaurant in Orlando and is chief cook and chauffeur for the family’s hectic schedule. JJ is her biggest fan and often tells his sister to go practice.