I’m a Tulsa Kid: Kayla Cao

Jenks Southeast Elementary School 4th grader Kayla Cao started taking piano lessons at the age of four. Today Kayla is a budding piano prodigy. Studying under Ms. Tatyana Lantos at Tulsa’s Barthelmes Conservatory, Kayla was a third place winner at the 2013 American Protégé International Piano and String Competition. The strong performance advanced Kayla to the winner’s recital at Carnegie Hall in New York City where she performed Hayden’s Sonata in D Major. In her free time Kayla plays soccer, badminton, swims, runs and dabbles in songwriting.

TK: When did you begin taking piano lessons and how much do you practice each day?

Kayla: I started taking lessons with Ms. Tatyana Lantos since I was 4 years old, and I recently started practicing 4 to 6 hours a day because my pieces are getting harder. Also it helps me accomplish more because my progress can increase its speed.

TK: Do you have a favorite composer?

Kayla:I actually have lots of favorite composers: Chopin, Mozart, Haydn, Beethoven, Bach, Vivaldi, and Liszt. So far, my most favorite composer would be Chopin.

TK: With your third place win at the American Protégé International Piano and Strings Competition, you were awarded the honor of performing at Carnegie Hall in New York City. What was it like performing in such a famous concert venue and what piece did you perform?

Kayla: It felt like a dream come true. I was so happy I was playing at Carnegie Hall, and very nervous that I’d make a mistake, but it turned out to be a great performance. I played Sonata in D major by Haydn in Carnegie Hall.

TK: Do you have a special trick to memorize musical pieces?

Kayla: I have a very simple trick. Whenever I start a new piece, Ms. Lantos tells me not to worry about memorizing. So I just practice it thousands of times and only focus on skills, techniques, and dynamics. Since I’m so used to the notes and I practiced it so much, I just memorize it without even trying. It’s known as “muscle memory.”

TK: What are your future plans in music?

Kayla: My dream is to become a concert pianist, but to achieve the ultimate goal, I should enter and win competitions, and I hope I can get into Juilliard School to get trained and well-prepared.