Second-grader Leo Chen has catapulted himself into success in the past two years, achieving the ability to play professional level pieces on the piano at only seven years-old. According to his father, Chen spends nearly 90 percent of his after-school free time on music.
The second-grader has always been interested in patterns, according to his father, leading the family to encourage Chen to pursue music. Chen attends lessons three days a week for 30 minutes, and practices for an hour each morning. In May of last year, Chen’s parents hired a tutor, recommended by his then piano teacher, who would come to their house every day for an hour of piano tutoring.
“From January to May he didn’t make a lot of progress. In May, we got him a tutor, Isabella. For a month or two she came over to help him practice. That really helped to generate an interest in music. Afterwards, he was so interested in piano that he practiced every day. We met our current piano teacher in June, and she immediately said Leo doesn’t need regular levels for his age, he could go immediately to intermediate,” Leo’s father, Michael Chen, said.
Chen specializes in classical and baroque music, particularly Beethoven and Mozart. In just two years, Chen has gathered the skills required to play music often played by professionals. His teacher, Tatiana Hall, is an experienced professional and taught college students in Moscow. With her help, he began playing more challenging pieces.
“I really like the piece ‘Turkish March” by Mozart,” Chen said.
Chen competes against older children, even high school students, winning most competitions. In April, he attended the Venice Musicale Scholarship Competition, where he won $500 to use towards piano lessons and competitions. In February, he received a superior ranking at the National Federation of Music Club’s yearly festival in the categories of Piano Solo, Patriotic, and Concerto. Chen won the local Sonatina competition in March as well.
While piano is his main focus, Chen began playing the violin in June. He attends three lessons per week and is progressing similarly as piano.
“He is very smart and quick. He has no limit. At this age, we don’t know whether he should go the music path or not. When he has little school work right now, we want him to enjoy learning it. We want to give him the opportunity to enjoy music and he is progressing fast, still progressing,” Chen’s father said.