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.