Four pianos and counting fuel family’s piano-playing passion

| December 2, 2016 | 0 Comments
pianists

Emma and Jacob Taggart practice a duet on the piano in their Blaine home. They attend St. Agnes School in St. Paul and belong to Epiphany in Coon Rapids. Dave Hrbacek/The Catholic Spirit

Take one step into the entryway of Teresa and Jared Taggart’s home in Blaine, and not one but two pianos can be spotted to the immediate left.

Walk down the hallway into the dining room, and a third is on the right, a beautiful Steinway grand piano worth more than the vehicle they drive.

A fourth piano sits on the second floor. Teresa and Jared, who belong to Epiphany in Coon Rapids, have as many pianos as they have children.

And they’re not done buying them. Plans are in the works for a fifth one, which will be brought down to the basement.

It’s all part of a lifestyle designed to keep busy the fingers and hands of their four children — Emma, 14, Jacob, 10, Cecilia, 3, and Sophie, 3 months. The two oldest have been playing since they were 4, Cecilia started in August and Sophie surely will take her turn someday, her mother confirmed.

“We collect pianos like some people collect bottles,” said Teresa, 38. “We started with mine. I grew up and I took piano lessons just like anybody else. So, we had one piano.”

When Emma started lessons, she thought it would just be for fun, but “she got serious pretty fast,” her mother said. “Her teacher said, ‘You need a better instrument’ because we just had an old upright.”

So they got piano No. 2. Jacob followed in his sister’s footsteps, so they got a third, and when Emma started teaching others to play, they got a fourth.

That might have been enough, but Emma recently won a $10,000 music scholarship, with most of it earmarked for a new piano. A Steinway grand runs around $20,000, but they hope that some friends who own a music store might be able to get them a lower price.

Emma and Jacob Taggart performed a duet piano performance that will air on National Public Radio KSJN 99.5 FM noon Dec. 4. They are being featured in a show called From the Top, hosted by acclaimed pianist Christopher O’Riley, and will include both their musical piece plus an interview with them.

Giving gifts back to God

Based on the skill already shown by Emma and Jacob, who go to St. Agnes School in St. Paul, the investment in a premium piano is well worth it. Each has won the Minnesota State Fair talent competition in the preteen division — Jacob in 2014 and Emma in 2015 — and have played at international music festivals.

They were recently were selected to play a duet on the same piano during a one-hour National Public Radio program “From the Top” recorded before a live audience at the Ordway Center for the Performing Arts in St. Paul in November. The two were featured alongside other young musicians. Hosted by acclaimed pianist Christopher O’Riley, the show aired Dec. 4. A podcast is available online at http://www.fromthetop.org.

Their success is no fluke. Emma, a ninth-grader, is at the keyboard 15 minutes after coming home from school each day, and she practices a total of four and a half hours a day. Jacob, a sixth-grader, is close behind at three hours a day.

But it’s not all music all the time; the family eats dinner together every night and prays one decade of the rosary afterward, much to the children’s delight.

“The family prayer, in general, is a really big part of my day,” said Emma, a ninth-grader. “It’s a time where the whole family gets together and shares in something, which is really important because we’re all running all over the place every day and the rosary is a time during the day when we can all relax and pray. It’s very nice.”

An outgrowth of the family’s daily prayer is the way the kids connect the keyboard to their Catholic faith.

“I’m very grateful to God for giving me the gift,” Emma said. “People clap and they like the music, but I think one thing that I really try to remember every time I perform is that I was given the gift and it’s really from God, so I should try to give it back to him.”

Jacob agreed, adding, “It’s a God-given gift, so I have to help share it with others.”

Emma hopes to become a music teacher if her dream of becoming a concert pianist falls short.

In the meantime, classical piano music will continue to fill the Taggart home. The family’s keyboard lifestyle can be summarized in Teresa’s simple explanation of why Sophie will one day place join her siblings in tickling the ivories: “Why not? This is just what we do.”

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Category: Featured, Local News