Saturday, August 11, 2012

What do YOU do in the Summertime?

It is Summertime here, and very hot.  Caleb loves to get wet in the summer to cool off, but what do YOU like to do in the summertime?  

There is a song at church that is called Oh, What Do You Do in the Summertime?  There is a pianist at church who says it is one of her favorite songs.  Caleb found a fancy little arrangement of the song and thought it would be nice to surprise her with it on her birthday.  

This is what he played;


She loved it.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Caleb Wins at WestFest!

Caleb auditioned to be part of a talent competition this summer in West Valley City, Utah.  They chose him to compete although he was going to be the youngest one in the junior division.  He would be a part of the Junior Talent Showcase for what the city called "WestFest".  WestFest is like a big carnaval that the city does as part of it's "West Valley Days" where they celebrate the heritage of their city.  
It was a little bit of a drive, but Caleb loves performing and so he was excited to go.

He played the Jon Schmidt "All of Me" where he bangs his arms on the piano.  
He had some tough competition (plus they were all older), but he did an awesome job.  He stole the show!

Here's the video of his performance:

In the end, he ended up winning 2nd place! 

Not only that, but he was given $100 to go with his prize!  

AND, for winning, he was invited to come back and perform on stage for the next 2 nights as part of a "Winner's Showcase".  

Caleb had the best time!  
He sure loves performing!

(Here's the part where he bangs his arms on the piano that we tried to capture on camera:)

Piano Trek 2012 Continued.....Finding the 10th Piano!

Well, we did go back downtown to hunt for the 10th and final piano and we found it!  

This one sat right in front of a bar, so we sat back by the homeless man looking for free beer and listened to Caleb play a little "bar song".

Since it was the last time we would be downtown before they took away all the pianos, Caleb had some fun walking back and playing on a couple of the pianos he had discovered before.  

He had lots of fun finding the downtown maps and hanging out with his sister.

He played an old song on the piano in front of the Nordstrom building and then we went along home.

Piano Trek 2012 was some of the best time Caleb had ever had.  Too bad they don't leave pianos around downtown all the time.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Caleb's Piano Trek 2012

Salt Lake City has done this awesome thing!  
As part of this "Street Pianos" program, they have put out 10 pianos around downtown SLC in this "Play Me; I'm Yours" experiment.  

Each piano has been uniquely painted by different artists and have been placed in several locations around town.  Most of them are in walking distance of each other.  Some are on street corners, some up on porches, some in community centers, some in front of museums.  

This was only going to be for a couple of weeks, and when we found out about it, we knew Caleb had to be a part of it.  If there is anything else that Caleb loves beside piano, it is maps.  If he hasn't been asking for pianos or sheet music, he has been asking for maps and atlases.  He loves to study maps, draw maps, and look at street guides.  

Street Pianos even had a website with a map of all the piano locations that you could print out.
So, we printed it out and gave it to Caleb.  He goes to piano lessons downtown, so we figured after piano lessons we would go on an adventure with the map in a quest to find every piano and play a different song on each one!  

At each piano we took a picture and Caleb held up the number of which piano it was.  They were all beautiful.  Some played better than others.  Some had sticky keys, and a few were out of tune, but he still played them all.  It proved to be a little too windy for sheet music, so mostly he played his memorized pieces.

There were 10 pianos in all, but we ended up only going to 9 of them, as the last one was in front of a bar, and it was getting dark, so we didn't think being out in front of a bar was the best situation for a young boy and also his 4 year old sister who had tagged along.  

Caleb had so much fun!  He met a lot of new people and we heard some other little concerts.  At one piano he had people pass by on horse and carriage who clapped for him.  Some pianos were at locations that were just too noisy, either by too much traffic, or at the last piano, there was a very loud street "musician" on guitar  only a few feet away.  At the last piano, Caleb had taken his hat off and a few people came by to give him tips!  

We created a little video of Caleb's experience playing around town;

This was almost better than Christmas for Caleb!  Wouldn't it be awesome if this wasn't just an experiment, but they could have pianos around town all the time to play?  Well, I would worry about the rain or snow hurting them, and maybe it would get annoying if people who didn't really know how to play started messing around with them, but what a wonderful thing it was!  

Caleb wants to find the last one by the pub next week after piano lessons.  Maybe we can get to it if we go just a little bit earlier.  We shall see!  

Caleb at Competition

Caleb took part in the SLC Piano Competition again this year, and this time he took home 2 awards!

He competed in 3 different categories, and won in 2 of them.  He got a 3rd place medal for playing his Prelude and Fugue in the classical division,

And, he took an Honorable Mention in the modern division for the "All of Me".

From this competition we learned that there were a lot of very skilled pianists who were all very technical and exact in their playing.  While Caleb works hard and can do well with technical pieces, the other kids were playing easier pieces.  Caleb likes to take on the big pieces, so it may take some time for his little hands to match up to the hugeness of the songs that he plays.  He was the best entertainer we thought.  He might not be perfect or as exact in his playing as some of the other young pianists, but he really was enjoyable and the most fun to watch!  

Caleb's Late Spring Recital

Caleb had a late Spring Recital where he got to perform 2 pieces.  We were a little nervous because another girl was going to be playing the same exact piece, so we hoped he wouldn't sound bad next to an older student, but in the end he did well.

Here he is playing his first piece, Bach's Prelude and Fugue in C Minor;

And here is his second piece, Bach's Invention No. 8;

He did awesome!

Caleb the Composer

Caleb loves playing the piano, but he also likes to compose some of his own music.  Now he is still pretty amateur, but he has written 3 of his own songs for piano which have all won at his school arts contests each year.  He also wrote a little song for both piano and violin to play with his sister in which he won second place in a composition competition in Park City.  

Recently, he tried something else. 

A friend asked if he and his sister would come and play a particular church song for her during her church lesson.  When Caleb looked at the song, it was a little too "simple" for him.  She wanted him to play a song and have his sister play with him on violin, so he looked at a violin arrangement with piano accompaniment in his sister's violin book, but he thought it was too simple as well.

He loves a local composer/arranger named Aaron Waite who arranges church hymns and children's songs. He found a fancy little arrangement of the church song by him that he liked, but it did not have a violin part to go with it.  So, Caleb decided that he could just write his own little arrangement for violin to go with Aaron Waite's piano arrangement.  And, he did this all the Saturday evening before he and his sister were to play it at his friend's church the next morning.  

Amazingly enough, Caleb created a cute little violin part that his little sister could pick up overnight.  How proud he was to be able to upload this video where it could say it wasn't just arranged by Aaron Waite, but that the "violin part was arranged by Caleb Spjute".  Also so excited he was when Aaron Waite himself heard the arrangement and posted on Caleb's page that it was "very very VERY cool!"  

Caleb is still learning as a composer, but arranging music might be his new found talent.  Here he is with his sister performing Aaron Waite's arrangement of a song by Mildred Tanner Petit and also arranged by Caleb himself!


Caleb's School Wax Museum

Caleb had a school "Wax Museum" toward the end of the the year where he was supposed to pick a famous person in Utah history to dress up like and give a little monologue.  While they suggested all these regular Utah famous people in history, Caleb wanted to pick someone a little more unique.  

He chose to be Grant Johannesen, a famous concert pianist who was born in Utah.  
As he learned about Grant Johannesen, it turned out he was a lot like Caleb.  Johannesen had started piano around the age of 5 when his next door neighbor, a piano teacher, discovered him.  She had heard someone next door "copying or imitating" her practicing, and so angrily she went over to demand who was making fun of her, and it was a little 5 year old boy that would listen to her play and then copy it on the piano himself.  Johannesen went on to do many great things and tour all over Europe performing with some of the greatest orchestras.  

Caleb dressed up in his suit and tails and although he wanted to have a better prop, they wouldn't allow him to have anything as big as a real sized piano, so he improvised and brought a little keyboard.  

Caleb did a great monologue and we were proud of him for not only doing a great job in school, but for really following along Johannesen's footsteps in his own life of learning and loving the piano.  

Monday, May 28, 2012

Caleb's School Talent Show

Caleb performed in his Elementary School Talent Show this month.  There were about 25 kids performing, including his sister, and he was very last to go on stage.  

He wanted to play Jon Schmidt's "All of Me" for the performance.  To help him practice, he uploaded Jon Schmidt's mp3 of the song, but soon found out that the way Jon played it on the mp3 was a little different than what the actual musical score had written.  Hmmmm......Caleb wanted to play it the way Jon Schmidt played it on the mp3, so he listened to it a few times and made the changes in the music.  

So, here he is at the school talent show performing the "modified version" of Jon Schmidt's "All of Me".  

We think he did awesome!

Friday, May 25, 2012

Caleb Plays in Church Once Again

Caleb's family was asked to speak in church, but when they say "speak", Caleb thinks "play".  So, Caleb spoke  AND played the piano.  He played the piano 3 times.  Once to accompany his older brother singing, once to accompany his younger sister on violin, and once just alone in his own piano solo.  What a day it was!!!

You can check out his brother or sister on their blogs, but here is what Caleb played; another beautiful arrangement by Aaron Waite, "Oh, Let Us Rejoice":

One thing to note---Caleb found this arrangement just 2 days before Sunday, so he had only those 2
days to learn a brand new song to perform.  He did a great job!

Monday, April 30, 2012

Spring Competitions

It's Spring time, and that means lots of competitions!  Caleb traveled down to Logan, Utah for a piano competition.  This one he enjoys quite much, not for the actual competing, but because they have a big music carnival where you can play games and win prizes.

Caleb played lots of games to win tickets and then turn in for prizes, mostly candy.

He had fun posing for pictures outside in between performance times.

The competition was held at Utah State University.  It had lots of interesting sculptures outside.

Caleb competed in 5 different categories.  He was one of the younger ones, and we felt he did pretty well.  He was playing some pretty difficult pieces for a 9 year old, but as we came to learn later, the judges didn't really like that he was a young boy playing difficult pieces.  They seemed to want those pieces left for the older kids.   

Anyway, in the end, Caleb did manage an Honorable Mention in the category of Impressionist Piece for playing Debussy's Golliwog's Cakewalk.  This was impressive, as it was a competition for kids up to 14 years old, and there were 2 other kids also playing the same piece as Caleb.  

Here he is on stage accepting his prize:

As you can see, the other kids were quite older.

Caleb had a great time and wants to go again next year.  

Monday, April 16, 2012

Caleb Wins Again!

The morning after Caleb had a spectacular evening playing with an orchestra, we packed all up and headed to Park City, Utah to compete in the Con Brio Music Festival.  
Last year Caleb had won 1st place in the Concerto Competition in the age group above his, and to no surprise, this year he did it again!  

Caleb won 1st place Concerto!  
But, not only that, he won 2nd place in the solo competition,
Best Romantic Piece,
2nd Place in Music Composition!

He won 2 certificates and 2 trophies!

The composition he wrote was for both violin and piano.  He made it easy enough so his sister could play it with him.  

He called it "Jewelia's Song".  

Here is a video of them practicing before competition:

Jewelia came with Caleb to the Awards Recital to help play his composition.  
It was really a simple little song, but the audience loved it.  

They also asked Caleb to play his Concerto and Bach's Invention Number 8 for the recital.  So Caleb played 3 different times for the ceremony!

Here he is playing Invention:


What another great year in Park City for Caleb!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Caleb Plays with Orchestra!!!

It is early Spring and pretty much Caleb was just waiting until the end of March where he would have his annual Con Brio competition in Park City, Utah.  Not too much excitement, but then all of the sudden, out of the blue, his teacher sends a text to ask if Caleb would be able to perform the concerto he was working on with the University orchestra in a little over 2 weeks time.  

Woh.  He had his concerto memorized, but he hadn't really been working on it, and he didn't have a cadenza leaned (the end solo part of the concerto), and woh, this was only 2 1/2 weeks away.  Could this even happen?  

There were 7 other kids (all older, from ages 10 to 17) who had been asked to perform, and yet some of these kids had been working on their concertos for almost 2 years!  Caleb had only started working on this concerto since after his arm surgery, so maybe it had been a couple of months, but not consistently.  

This was a big decision, and there were some costs of some sorts to pay for orchestra, a suit for Caleb, time, preparation.....stress.....the worry that this was a short notice and could Caleb really do it?

Should we let him do it?  Should we come up with the money?  Was it worth it?  

Really, playing with an orchestra is a huge opportunity.  As we researched, we found that there were many accomplished pianists who may have won competitions over the years but had never had the chance to play with orchestra.  Here Caleb was only 9 years old, but this was a huge opportunity and who was to say if he would have other chances in the future?  

So, we decided to do it.  Caleb was a little nervous about the idea at first, but after talking with his piano teacher, he seemed very excited.

He prepared the next 2 weeks.  He worked very hard.  He got special permission at school to practice everyday after lunch on their piano in the lunchroom.

His mom freaked out a little when they were coming up with a new cadenza the night before the rehearsal that Caleb had yet to learn and memorize.  His teacher just laughed and said, "Chill out!  We're musicians here!"  

The night came to rehearse with the orchestra.  He had met with the conductor the week before, and now he had one night to rehearse his concerto in a small 15 minute time slot and that was it.  

He was extremely nervous, as he had never played with an orchestra before.  Caleb has always been a very distracted pianist and will often look at everything else besides the piano when he is playing.  We had told him to stay focused and not to look at the violinists or out into the audience while he played, but it came to mess him up, when the conductor started the orchestra and it came to his part the conductor motioned him in but Caleb did not start.  He was so much concentrating not to look anywhere else, that he missed his start.  Well, that, and he had never heard the orchestra part as how he is to start.  It's a little different than when his teacher plays.  So as he failed to come in, the orchestra all laughed.  This made Caleb even more nervous. We knew Caleb would be alright, he always performs well under pressure.


Caleb's teacher was there and she was helping him out and being very reassuring.  

At home, he was very excited when his new suit came in the mail that evening.  It even had tails!!

The night of the concert came and Caleb was very excited.  
Some of his biggest fans were already there to support him!

He was to wait backstage until he performed, but he was number 5 to go on stage, so we volunteered his dad to keep him occupied until it was time.  You never know what a 9 year old could do backstage waiting all that time.....

We did get some nice pictures on stage before it began.

The concert began and we were all so nervous waiting for the 5th pianist to come out.  It finally came, and out came Caleb to perform!  

Here is the amazing performance we got to witness:


He did so well!  There were a few spots Caleb had continued to forget during practice, but he remembered them all and did amazing!  What an awesome accomplishment for a 9 year old boy!

We tried to get a picture of all the performers over the audience's standing ovation!  
See little Caleb was the smallest as always.

Afterward, he got to meet a huge fan club!

This isn't all of the group.  He even had some teachers from school come to see him.

His piano teacher was so proud of him!

He even signed an autograph!

So exciting and wonderful it was!  It's just so amazing and awesome that he was able to be a part of it, and he did so well!  And as we just noticed, this is Caleb's 100th blog post!  How fitting to play with orchestra for his 100th post!

Thank you so much to all the friends and great family support to allow Caleb to have this wonderful opportunity!  We love you!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

A Little Fun with Jon Schmidt

Caleb's arm was pretty much healed up now.  Although he was still wearing some steri strips to help limit the scarring, he was ready and able to do some fun things on the piano again.  

Recently, Caleb had seen a local pianist named Jon Schmidt on some YouTube videos.  Jon Schmidt is a pianist who seems to have a lot of fun playing the piano.  He is a pianist/composer who writes many of his own songs and fun arrangements of songs that you hear on the radio but mashed together with other songs.  

When he saw how much fun Jon Schmidt had sometimes backward at the piano and hitting it with his arms, Caleb had to do it himself.  We bought the sheet music for one of his songs and Caleb began learning it right away.  This was a song called "All of Me" where it incorporated the use of both arms to smash on the piano to play.  Caleb was all about that!  He even wanted a fancy video of him playing it where the camera kind of circled around him.  Well, we aren't the best camera people, but he had fun with it.  

Here is Caleb playing Jon Schmidt's "All of Me":


4-H Talent Show

Caleb and his brother and sister participated in a 4-H Talent Show this last month.

It was at a local nursing home and anyone could enter, so they all went to play their instruments and have fun.  

Caleb played a new song he was working on by Jon Schmidt.  Although in the middle of his song his dad flipped over the music upside down, but Caleb kept on playing!  

In the end, Caleb won a blue ribbon and "Most Exceptional Performer"!

Birthday Parties, Senior Centers, and Playing for the Mayor

Caleb was asked by his friend Dorothy to play the piano at her birthday party.  Caleb was more than happy to!  

He played her one of her favorite songs, "Somewhere In Time".

At the party Caleb saw the mayor!

He asked if Caleb would play for the city Senior Center.  Caleb wanted to, and had even offered to play there a year ago, but last year they did not want Caleb to play.  They did not like the idea of an 8 year old playing for their seniors and so they turned us down even though it was all volunteer.

We thought it was kind of sad, but the mayor said that he really wanted Caleb to play there and so he would work it all out.

A few weeks later, Caleb was allowed to come play for them.  He made a program of 10 songs that he would play.

The Mayor even came to watch!

Caleb had fun, and hopefully the senior center liked having him there 
(even if the Mayor had to talk them into it!)

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Caleb's Comeback!

Caleb had gone through a tough time with his surgery, but he was healing up fast now, and it was time for a comeback!  Right away he began working on a new song to play in church.  He found another beautiful song by composer/arranger Aaron Waite.  This time it was a wonderful arrangement of the song, "If I Could Hie to Kolob".  

Caleb practiced and got to play it in church in the middle of February.  He did an awesome job and it sounded beautiful!  

Here he is playing it at home:


As you can see by his comment at the end, he thought it was funny if we called it If You Could Hie to "Caleb"!

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Meanwhile.........Some Surprises During Recovery!

It seemed like a long time before Caleb could be playing piano again after surgery, but while he waited, we posted some of his Pirates of the Caribbean videos online.  One in particular got the attention of somebody important-----the composer himself, Jarrod Radnich!  It wasn't the greatest video performance, as Caleb struggled to hit all those big notes and slide down the piano keys, but I guess it was good enough for Jarrod!  He so kindly commented on Caleb's video, and then to top it off, he sent Caleb a get well card and an autographed copy of another great arrangement of the Harry Potter theme song for Caleb!

Caleb was so excited!  He loved how Jarrod wrote that he was the same age when he started piano lessons.  

Here is Caleb's video and you can see Jarrod's comment if you go to the actual YouTube page:


It is so nice that there are so many great pianist role models for Caleb and that they take the time out of their busy lives to encourage a young aspiring musician.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Caleb Goes in for Arm Surgery

Right after Christmas, Caleb had to have surgery on his arm.  

You may have never noticed, but he has a large bump on his right arm.  
When he was born, he had a small red mark on his arm which they called a strawberry hemangioma.  

It wasn't any big deal, but in the next few months of his early life, it began to grow and even began bleeding.

For years we had taken him to specialists who told us that it would fade away and flatten out and it was nothing to worry about, but as he grew, the bump grew as well.

The color seemed to lighten up, but the bump was not shrinking.  Here he was at 5 years old:

It is funny though, that it was always a big topic of his YouTube videos.  If people weren't commenting on his actual playing, they were asking, "Hey, what's that thing on his arm?!"  It goes to show how judgmental people can be.  

When he turned 9 years old, the doctor told Caleb that his arm was not going to get any better and that he needed to have the bump removed.  So, we went to a plastic surgeon and scheduled surgery to have the hemangioma removed from Caleb's arm.  

Caleb was very sad at first because he knew he would not be able to play the piano for a while after surgery.  He said that playing the piano was his favorite thing to do.  Even on the day of surgery, right before he went in, he played the hospital's baby grand piano just to have one last time to play.

He got all dressed up, had his special bear, Snowflake, with him, and was ready to go.

Surgery took a little longer than expected.  It turned out that Caleb's arm had a lot of blood vessels tangled in the hemangioma which all had to be cut and cauterized.  The surgeon had to scrape a nerve and we worried that Caleb might have some permanent nerve damage in his arm going down into his wrist and hand.
We wouldn't know for sure for a while, but we were very scared and saddened by the thought that Caleb might not be able to play the piano the same way as before.

We didn't say anything to Caleb.  He came home to recover with lots of pillows and his arm in a sling.

Caleb's incision was quite larger than we had previously expected.  

It was pretty scary trying to keep steri strips over the wound and hope we were doing it right.

As we returned back to the doctor, we were happy to discover that any nerve damage he received was limited to his middle arm.  His wrist and hand were not affected!  The areas that he cannot feel are all on the top part of his arm.  Caleb began noticing that he could not feel certain areas of his arm, so we informed him of what had happened.  Although Caleb was a little scared and sad at first, he has learned to be brave and not let it bother him.  We joke he can play volleyball without pain or he can survive a karate chop to the arm because he won't feel anything.  

Caleb went a few weeks before he could do anything too vigorous.  That meant no piano.  
He toughed it out though.  After 2 weeks, he got to be out of the sling, and with his arm still wrapped, he was given permission to slowly start back at playing the piano.  

Here was his first song attempt since surgery---Bach's Fugue 2 in C Minor:


He had to play it very gently and be careful not to bounce too much.  Caleb was just happy to be playing again, but he did long for the time when he could again play Pirates of the Caribbean.