Ainan, my 13 year old son, owns the most
portable piano in the world. It is in his head. I shall explain.
Ainan has the habit of playing an imaginary
piano with his fingers, whilst he sits at the dinner table, or even stands up
in mid conversation. His fingers tap out “tunes” in the air, not aimlessly, but
with perfect, most careful choice of movement and depression of finger. He has
been doing this for some time, now.
Today, I asked him: “Ainan: do you hear the
music when you do that?”
“Yes.” He said and carried on playing on
his invisible piano.
He had confirmed what I had come to intuit:
Ainan actually hears the music he plays on his imaginary piano. For him, the
music is as real as if he had played it on an actual piano. So, it is, in this
way, that Ainan composes music, even when a piano is not near: he will simply
tap out the music to himself, on his inner piano. For him, that is enough, to
allow him to appreciate it. Most often, later, he will play it on a real piano
and, of course, record it – but the first creation is often of him simply
tapping the music out on the table or in the air.
For Ainan, musical composition has become
very much an instinct and a reflex. Ainan is often seen to be tapping out music
on his imaginary piano, whilst holding a conversation. He particularly likes to
do this in the kitchen. Either his brothers, or his parents, will be talking to
him – and he will be responding – but throughout the conversation, he will
quite clearly be seen to be composing music, on his invisible piano. He is so
used to composing, now, that not even the distraction of a conversation can
stop him from doing so...it just carries on in the background, bubbling up from
It is quietly pleasing to see how much this
creative activity has become a part of Ainan since the beginning of his 12th
year, when he resumed composition, after a six year break (he had started to do
so as a six year old, before being put off music for a long time). I do hope
that he continues with this momentum and grows musically by the day, week,
month, year. Already, of course, he is a very accomplished composer, producing
new works all the time. I look forward to all the music, yet to be heard in
this house, to come. I hope he plays more of it on the piano in the corner of
the house, rather than on the one in the corner of his mind – for only he can
hear that one!
Happy composing Ainan – piano or not.
Posted by Valentine Cawley
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Labels: Ainan Celeste Cawley, child prodigy composer, composing while talking, creativity in music, divided attention, imaginary piano, invisible piano, parallel thinking, power of the imagination