Piano Child Prodigy, Age 4, Denied Carnegie Hall Debut Because She Can't Be Vaccinated

Photo: (Photo : ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP via Getty Images)

A piano child prodigy from Ridgefield, Connecticut, was pulled out from the performance list of an upcoming recital in Carnegie Hall this November because of New York's no jab, no access policy. Brigitte Xie is only four years old, which means she cannot get a vaccination since there are no approved vaccines for kids below 11 years old in the U.S.

According to her mother, Nicole Sun, Brigitte isn't exactly disappointed that she won't be able to debut at the historic Carnegie Hall after winning the Elite National Music Competition in December 2020 and the American Protégé International Competition in March 2021. While part of her prize was to showcase her talent at the prestigious venue, Brigitte is more eager to go to a Disney store for her prize from her parents.

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Sun further said that her daughter has no idea what performing at Carnegie Hall could mean for her impressive start as a piano child prodigy. Nonetheless, the idea of performing thrilled Brigitte because she loves to play for an audience.

As vaccines for kids in Brigitte's age still hinge on approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the child prodigy's performance was pushed back to November 2022.

Learning Piano During the Lockdown

Brigitte learned to play the piano at the height of the lockdown in 2020 when she was three years old. Her mother taught her the basics, but when Sun couldn't keep up with the little girl's progress, they hired an online tutor, Felicia Feng Zhang.

The young talent, who can play Beethoven's Sonatina in F Major masterfully, developed her talent within six months when others would usually take a year or two to improve. She quickly mastered reading sheet music of classical pieces and eventually learned more when she attended in-person classes at Zhang's school.

Zhang, however, said that she's not the youngest in her class because she also has students who are barely three years old. However, Brigitte impressed everyone who hears her play, including the judge who grades the Royal College of Music tests. She took her Level 1 exams via Zoom and clinched them.

The teacher said that Brigitte had to demonstrate playing three piano pieces by memory and two pieces by reading a music sheet. The exams measure a student's technical ability, ear training, rhythm, sight-reading, and listening playback. After the exams, Zhang encouraged the family to consider signing up Brigitte in competitions.

No Pressure from the Parents

The child prodigy sits for her lessons with Zhang for 45 minutes per day and takes an extra half-hour lesson per week. However, Sun said that she and her husband, Tao Xie, do not nag their daughter to practice, but she would wander over to the piano to play.

Sun also said that a lot can still happen in the future, so they are open to everything their daughter might want to try, even if she doesn't want to become a pianist when she's older. Tao said they had no idea their daughter could be a child prodigy when she showed interest in piano music, but the child's teacher said she has passion and a curious mind for learning.

For now, however, Sun said that her daughter loves the challenge of learning new music and has since developed a love for taking part in reputable piano competitions. The young girl had a plan to play Mozart for her Carnegie debut, but that will have to wait for another year.

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