GREENWICH, Conn. - Her fingers may be small, her tiny feet far from the pedals, but Brigitte Xie has some massive talent.
Xie is just 3 years old but in six months she has progressed more on the piano than some people do over the course of years.
"She is really exceptional," said Felicia Feng Zhang, her teacher. "She listens so well. When I demonstrate, she really watches what I did and imitates well."
Last summer as the pandemic wore on, Xie's parents, Nicole Sun and Tao Xie of Ridgefield, Connecticut, were looking for something to keep their toddler busy. They connected with Zhang, an award-winning piano teacher. After a few online lessons, Xie's parents brought her to Zhang's Greenwich studio for in-person lessons.
Xie's mother also plays piano. She started when she was 6 but says her daughter's skills surpass hers as a child.
"The first time I heard her playing a piano piece, I was so deeply moved," Sun said.
And Zhang could see her young pupil had serious potential. Xie quickly learned to read the music and follow cues.
"It's not only reading notes, it's coordination of the eyes and the fingers," Zhang said.
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She knew Xie's talent was worthy of recognition.
"I said, 'Brigitte, do you like a challenge? Would you like to be on stage?'" Zhang said.
The answer was a clear yes.
This spring, Brigitte won several prestigious music competitions and became the youngest first-place winner of the Elite International Music Competition, landing her a spot to perform at Carnegie Hall.
Xie's father says he is extremely proud.
"I wanted her to learn an instrument but I never expected this result," he said.
Xie, who will turn 4 on June 19, will play at Carnegie Hall in November as part of the American Protégé International Music Talent Competition. She will likely be the youngest participant on stage.
Xie plans to perform Mozart.