Child prodigies truly are a wonder to behold. Research psychologists often refer to a “child prodigy” as an individual under the age of 10 who possesses the skills of an adult expert in an area such as music, art, or mathematics.
Joey Alexander is such a person. He is a jazz pianist who taught himself not only how to play piano, but to improvise, by the age of 6, simply by listening to his father’s classic jazz albums. He is the youngest musician ever to be asked to play at the Newport Jazz Festival. We were first introduced to him during a profile on CBS’ 60-Minutes several months ago and were awed and dumbstruck. Since that airing, he performed at the Grammys to a standing ovation and was up for 2 awards himself (although he did not win . . . this time). Now at the ripe old age of 12, he is due to play the White House, and is booked to play in Switzerland, Singapore, and the United Arab Emirates,
See below for a link to a roughly 2-minute slice of his amazing work from a recent Berks County Jazz Festival concert that we were lucky enough to attend. With an accompanying bassist and drummer, he played flawlessly with both feeling and energy for well over an hour. In our opinion, he sounded like one of the greats. He plays without sheet music, and about one third of the time, he didn’t even look down at the keys. Aside from the pure talent he possessed, it seemed nearly impossible that one could remember all of that music especially at such a tender age. We were without words to explain what we had witnessed.
Studies have shown that almost all prodigies score off the charts on memory tests. They rank better than 99% of the general population. In one study, 3/4ths of the prodigies, in fact, scored in the 99.9th percentile. One can’t help but think of Mozart when one sees a young genius like this at work. In fact, both Mozart’s memory, as well as his ability to improvise, was well known. To see more of Joey’s work, check out the many videos on YouTube. Further, if you would like to see a Mozart-like talent in our time, go check out his performance schedule—perhaps he’ll be playing in a city near you.