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.  

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Caleb's New Year's Concert Downtown

Caleb loves playing the piano, but when he isn't doing that, he loves to study maps!  He has been asking for maps and atlases and getting them for his birthday and Christmas since he was 4 years old!  This Christmas he got the Salt Lake City Street Guide, perfect to direct him to his next concert in downtown Salt Lake City!  

He was asked to participate in a concert as a sort of New Year's Celebration at the downtown Salt Lake City Library.  Caleb prepared to play 4 different songs.  He was going to start out with a classical piece, but then stop midway through to do some "more entertaining" pieces.  He had a whole skit he was going to do.  First, he would play part of Mozart's Sonata K545, then he would play the Snoopy Song, then Billy Joel's Goodnight My Angel, then Pirates of the Caribbean.  

He was really excited and did pretty well, although he forgot the Snoopy Song so that got skipped.  Caleb was happy to play in this concert because it would be his last performance before he went in for surgery on his right arm the following day.  

Here is a clip of his "Goodnight My Angel" song;


Monday, February 6, 2012

Caleb, A Keyboard, and Some Pirates

Caleb was very lucky this Christmas.  He got a full sized 88 keys electric keyboard from Santa Claus!
What a wonderful present so he could practice in his room or play his songs without disturbing anyone else if he wanted to!

While it does have a synthesizer that can change the sounds a bit, this keyboard has weighted keys so it can have the same feel as a real piano and so you can play dynamics just as well.

Caleb was so excited, he wanted to play some Pirates of the Caribbean on it right away.
Of course, he had to change the sound to "harpsichord".