December 19, 2007

One Never Knows What Blessings Lurk

Bones had a 3rd and 4th grade music Christmas program at school today. We have a new music teacher and she instituted this, and I’m happy she did. As our children get older, there are no more hand made ornaments, no more Christmas pageants and it is all a bit sad for me.

So I slid through the door like Kramer today, running from a meeting at work to see Bones sing, and I looked at the program and it said, “Piano music played by Mark Smith, 4th grade.”

All the parents looked at it and thought, “Oh, a 9 year old that is learning to play the piano. We’ll get Christmas music. How sweet.”

The music teacher stood up and introduced him and said, “And what is special about this, is that he wrote this piece.”

OK, folks, the kid is 9. What are you thinking? You know you are thinking what we were thinking. “Oh, this will be sweet. He composed a little tune.”


And so we sat there and waited for Mark to get to the piano, and he started to play, like I expected, two fingers on one hand, plink plink plink plink, and then he added a few more notes and he got a good beat going and the kids were digging it, and it was nice and then, holy crap, he had both hands on the piano and things were starting to move, and a melody took form and he carried it through this 5 minute piece and I kid you not, it was a Beethovenesque piece that just frickin’ blew us away.

We went from looking at our programs thinking, “How sweet” to one huge collective *Blink* as we all craned to stare at the blonde haired imp sitting at the piano. The principal had been sitting behind me. He had been listening and half way through, he stood up and walked to the front to watch Mark play.

It was the most phenomenal thing I have ever witnessed… because… here’s the part I had forgotten.

I know Mark’s Mom. I know her well. And I suddenly remembered her telling me that Mark doesn’t know how to read music. He has a perfect ear and can hear things and put together things that nobody else can do. He’s NEVER had a piano lesson.

All of us can play music, but not all of us are musicians. I am not a musician. This young boy most certainly is.

He plays with both hands. He can hear the cords and the melodies and how they are supposed to go together. He seems to intuitively understand the music theory… and THAT is what continued to blow me away.

He is 9.

Holy crap.

Then again, I remembered his Mother’s brother has his PhD in music. She and I spoke. She said he was the same way… just like her Mark. Amazing stuff… truly a gift this child has.

And I feel blessed for having been able to hear him today. What… a gift.

Posted by Boudicca at December 19, 2007 10:18 PM | TrackBack

Mozart had already written a symphony by the time he was nine. Let's just hope this boy learns to read music so he can write music. I envy him so much.

Posted by: Denny at December 19, 2007 11:53 PM

I too envy him.

Posted by: Sissy at December 20, 2007 12:42 AM

How wonderful... particularly a music teacher that will help a child that doesn't read music. Amazing. I am glad you got to go.

Posted by: vw bug at December 20, 2007 06:33 AM

My foster brother was like that. Can play like an angel - always has. But can't read a lick of music.

Made it very difficult growing up after him.....I can "play" but he CREATES.

You're right. What a gift you were given......there is nothing like hearing music that comes straight from the heart.

Posted by: Tammi at December 20, 2007 07:00 AM

Denny- His mother gets all of her kids formal music lessons. He is the youngest... so he will be taking next, I gather. His older siblings play instruments with music. She said her brother was the same way and did learn how to read music... he's a conductor now. ;-) I wish there was someone who could convert what he plays to a score. Good Grief. And listening to him, if he truly understood all the instruments, I know he could write something for all parts. He is that amazing in what he hears.

Sissy- Me too. I had just never run across this. Even our principal who has been teaching for 40 years hadn't.

VW- Our music teacher is very into having children that take music lessons perform during her pageants. Its kind of nice. The evening before at our band concert, the band director had three brothers who take piano, all play something (on one piano) that they've been learning. So even though our music program at our school truly is woefully inadequate, the music teacher and band director do that absolute best they can do... considering music will never be NEAR the forefront of our school.

Tammi- EXACTLY! It was from the heart. His Mom said when he plays at home, he looks like a crazy little Mozart, completely into it, hair all insane. Cracks me up. And being the sibling of one... his siblings are very good musicians (runs in the family), but they are completely overshadowed by him and the Mom has to work through that with her other two, who are a bit... not jealous... but irritated at times. Any other given day her other two, people would be giving accolades to, but when you live with something like this... it even overshadows THEIR great musical gifts. They are gifted as well though... so it will be interesting to see how it all works out. She is a GREAT Mom.

Posted by: Bou at December 20, 2007 07:48 AM

There is a computer program that will convert what he plays to score. His mom should look into it.

How wonderful. I hope he always has teachers who will let his talent shine through.

Posted by: oddybobo at December 20, 2007 08:11 AM

Ditto on the computer program - maybe this boy's uncle could contact his alma mater and see if they have something liks that available, to try it out first.

I'm sad none of my nieces or nephews do music - it was such a huge plus to my years going through school. And I always loved playing our holiday and spring concerts.

Posted by: cheri at December 20, 2007 08:26 AM

I wish I could play better than I do. But I'm thankful I can do what I can do.

Posted by: wRitErsbLock at December 20, 2007 08:34 AM

He's going to need a very special music teacher... one who can realize he is a truly gifted artist and can work from there.

There are very few of these people around - at the very least, if his music is recorded, it can be converted to paper even if a computer isn't available.

What a wonderful Christmas present for the school! I think most everyone would want to have such a gift. Maybe one day we'll be hearing him play in concert!

Posted by: Teresa at December 20, 2007 12:01 PM

Since learning to play the pipes i look at myself as, one who can play music, by reading and by rote. Just as one who can pick up a pencil and roughly sketch a dog by looking at it and the drawing somewhat resembling a cow. Yet an artist or a musician, that is a yet another higher quantum level(s). In both forums, there is art, and then, there is beauty, that sounds like unmistakable beauty.

Posted by: Jay- the friendly neighborhood piper at December 20, 2007 04:44 PM

Bou - If they have a digital piano, there is a program (or used to be one) called Midisoft that allows one to play right into the computer and it will score it. After that, lines can be duplicated and then changed to different instruments. I was able to orchestrate the Promenade for Pictures at an exhibition in about 20 minutes. I had to manually score it first. I did know how to play it on the piano but I didn't have digital capability back then. Don't have it now either and my piano skills have deteriorated as have my guitar skills.

Posted by: Denny at December 20, 2007 05:26 PM

One music writing program with conversion capabilities is called Finale. If he has access to an electronic keyboard, it can be hooked up to the computer and the music will be scored.

Posted by: sticks at December 20, 2007 07:04 PM

I used Finale in college. It was pretty easy to use and very cool!

Posted by: Sissy at December 20, 2007 08:46 PM