October 14, 2008

Upland Girl Goes on Her Own “Curiosity Quest”

By Sandra Emerson

UPLAND - Dorothy Kang's love of playing the piano has provided her with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity - hosting a popular television show.

In an award-winning essay chosen out of 5,000 submissions, the 10- year-old Valencia Elementary School student proposed that PBS' "Curiosity Quest" film an episode about making pianos.

The selection of Dorothy's essay gave her the chance to co-host an episode, which is set to air at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 11 on channel 24.

"I always wondered how each (piano) key made a different sound," Dorothy said. "What makes the sound come out? I thought music was so interesting and so beautiful, I thought I had to find this out."

PFF Bank & Trust, the show's sponsor, paid for Dorothy to take a trip during Labor Day weekend to the Steinway & Sons piano factory in New York. The bank also awarded Dorothy a $1,000 Young Savers Account.

"We went to the factory, and they let us see how the pianos were made," Dorothy said. "I learned how they made the fan board, strings and keys, and how they polish the pianos and every single step of making a piano."

While at the factory, Dorothy said she played the first piano made by Steinway & Sons.

"I actually got to touch it," she said. "Not even all the workers got to touch it. I was a really special guest to be able to touch the piano."

"Curiosity Quest" - which airs on 40 PBS stations throughout the country - won three 2008 Telly Awards that honors outstanding local and regional television commercials and productions.

"Curiosity Quest" host Joel Greene started the show in 2001 on a cable access channel.

"Basically our topics are taken directly from viewers," Greene said. "We explore topics based on viewers' curiosity. We get letters all the time on a complete array of different topics, so we try to find topics that are universally interesting."

"Curiosity Quest" doesn't have a script, and Dorothy was encouraged to ask Steinway employees questions about the piano- making process during filming, Greene said.

"When I was doing the show with Dorothy, she was such a professional, and it was so easy to do a show with her because she just went along with everything," Greene said. "At some points, she was asking more questions than I was."

While in New York, Dorothy and her parents saw some popular New York landmarks.

"I never thought this would have ever happened. I wrote because I felt like writing," she said. "That little essay has turned out to be a $1,000, a trip to New York and TV shows. I always wanted to go to New York."

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