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Just a single mom of two small boys somewhere in the middle of Minnesota. My older son has been diagnosed with autism. Both sons have been diagnosed with awesome.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Max: The Piano Man

I knew Max loved the piano, and could play a little. At the end of the last school year, the music teacher sent a letter home. In it she listed at least three children's song Max could play by ear.

And he has his own keyboard at home. Inspired by the letter the music teacher sent, his Grandmama Gayle and Grandpa Fred bought him one for his seventh birthday. Not counting the days that he couldn't because we weren't home, I don't think he has gone so much as day without him playing. He plays it off and on all day long.

Let me tell you something... all day long is a long time.

I figured out pretty quickly that all that nonstop tickling of the ivories was going to drive me to drink, and since I don't usually keep booze in the house, that could be a problem. I quickly purchased a sturdy pair of headphones for Max's keyboard.

Now we cut ahead a few months in our story. We went on a trip to stay with Fred and Gayle for a week in Virginia over Thanksgiving.

Fred and Gayle do not have a keyboard, but they do have an upright piano.

The first thing Max did when we got there was to set himself down at the piano and start playing. Right away I noticed he was playing snippets of songs I could recognize, and even when I couldn't recognize anything, his playing sounded very musical to my untrained ear. Not so much a kid messing around on a piano, but like someone improvising. Like he knew what he was doing, and I'm not the only one who thought so.

On the second day of our stay I sat down next to Max on the piano bench and said, "Look what Mama can do!" and I played 'Mary had a Little Lamb. Badly. Using one finger.

Max looked out of the corner of his eye at me, gave me a tiny little half smile, and started playing Mary Had a Little Lamb. But not like I did. Not only did he use more than one finger, he used both hands. He was playing chords. He was playing with gusto. Then he broke into Jingle Bells. After that came The Battle Hymn of The Republic.

And all the while he was watching me out of the corner of his eye. With that little smile on his face.

"See what I'm doing?" he seemed to be saying with that smile. "This is music."

Over the next few days he went on to play quite a few songs. Some of them he played most or even all of the way through. Others he just played snippets of, and a few he was obviously trying to work out.
Here is a partial list of the songs he played. Some he only part part of, others a all or most of the way through.

Battle Hymn of Republic
Defying Gravity from Wicked
Jingle Bells
Little Brown Jug
Mary Had a Little Lamb
Nutcracker-various themes
Over the River and Through the Woods
Princess and the Frog (3 songs)
Turkey in the Straw
When The Saints Go Marching In

I've always said the best way to get through to Max is with music. I noticed when he was quite young that I could get him to answer me more often by singing questions, rather then by simply asking. He still isn't much of a talker, but he sings all the time. He could sing Taylor Swift's Love Story all the way through after hearing on the radio once.

So I knew Max had a special connection to music, but it seems I didn't know the half of it. Or it least, not the depth of it.


  1. Oh, MAN! That is SO awesome!! In SO many ways!

  2. What a wonderful discovery! Please come back soon and tell us more!