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In Amy Tan's "Two Kinds," Jing-Mei fails miserably when she plays piano in front of an audience. She thought playing wonderfully in front of an audience was going to be easy:
...I was very confident. I remember my childish excitement. It was as if I knew, without a doubt, that the prodigy side of me really did exist. I had no fear whatsoever, no nervousness. I remember thinking to myself, This is it! This is it!
But when her performance begins she is so into how beautiful she looks, and she is such a poor player because she has not practised seriously, that first she hits one bad note, then another and another. She thinks that somehow her hands will just magically correct themselves and the errors will stop, but they don't. When she sees her mother's face she feels the shame she has caused her.
Her deaf piano teacher is exposed when he claps wildly and praises her, just as Jing-Mei and her mother are exposed.
Jing Mei is anxious and plays poorly in front of the audience. She is relieved because this ruins her mother's theory that she is a prodigy and it takes some of the pressure of of her and her piano playing. Even though Jing Mei knows she should be embarrassed that she did not do as well as she could have, she feels relieved that she doesn't have to be the best anymore.
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