Miss Shawna's Opus
by Shawna Black

My two boys watched a movie with their dad the other night; they watched Mr. Holland's Opus. I didn't necessarily sit down and watch the movie with them; however, I did find myself watching from the doorway of the back room, not really watching – not exactly. One of these "watching but not really watching" parts was when Mr. Holland helped the girl playing the clarinet realize that she could play if she just felt it in her heart. Or some sappy crap like that. At the time, this particular scene didn't strike me as important; it was just another attempt by some director to move me in an emotional manner. This is partly the reason I hate to watch movies. Most scenes like this cater to the highly hormonal female psyche and just pretty much bore the shit out of me.

The movie did give me the idea for my next photo. Jake, my oldest, is learning Beethoven's Fur Elise for the 5th grade talent show next month. I thought it'd be neat to shoot a series of pictures of his hands while he was playing the song. I asked him to practice the song so I could figure the best way to compose the shots. As he started to play, he told me he didn't need the music because he memorized it. At this point, the first flashback of the movie popped in my head. Didn't Mr. Holland say something about playing not just the notes on the page but rather, to feel the song? So, as Jake is playing this classic song, I stop what I am doing to watch him. He starts to sway back and forth, side to side, his hands do a crossover and he hits the petal at the bottom and doesn't miss a beat. I actually start to cry watching my eleven-year old kid not just play the notes but feel the music. He's feeling it! It was a very powerful moment that I will never forget.

Damn Mr. Holland and his ability to reach my highly hormonal female psyche.

Here are the two shots I like the most from the Jake Playing the Piano shoot. Digital, black and white, and full frame. No cropping allowed.



Shawna blamed her hormones when she cried during Air Bud.



Hands are so cool to shoot. I haven't done it enough. Now I want to shoot my kids hands doing stuff.

I love the fingers playing across the srtong, straight lines of the piano keys. Really neat look.

I think the last hands shot I took was several years ago. A soldier was setting up a mock Claymore mine. It wasn't as cool a shot as your piano hands here.


Very cool shots - and story.

This has inspired me to take shots of my kid playing the guitar.


good job shawna... you rock.

(don't let anyone tell you that i cried during mr hollands opus... WHAT? my mother is a music teacher give me a break)


Thanks Guys!

I am just so happy that my kids like music and enjoy learning how to play. Music is a BIG part of our household. And, who knows? Maybe this new generation will turn our state of music around. And with that said, I'm off to read Pril's article...


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