2002-02-28 / Front Page

Boy, 3, gives first piano recital at O.B. library

Boy, 3, gives first piano recital at O.B. library


PHOTOS BY FARRAH MAFFAI  With his instructor looking on, Arjun Ayyangar, 3, of Old Bridge, hits the notes during his recital at the Old Bridge Public Library Feb. 17.PHOTOS BY FARRAH MAFFAI With his instructor looking on, Arjun Ayyangar, 3, of Old Bridge, hits the notes during his recital at the Old Bridge Public Library Feb. 17.

By sue m. morgan

Staff Writer

As he sits on a piano bench giving a recital, 3-year-old Arjun Ayyangar’s feet cannot reach the floor, but his small fingers can certainly pound out the notes to familiar tunes.

Arjun, the son of township residents Vijay and Sudha Ayyangar, presented his first public recital Feb. 17 before an audience of approximately 35 people at the Old Bridge Public Library.


Under the watchful eye of his music teacher, Antonio Gandia of East Brunswick, the young pianist played for about 20 minutes. His repertoire of 21 songs included "Yankee Doodle," "This Land Is Your Land," "When the Saints Go Marching In" and "Take Me Out to the Ball Game."

"He played a little faster than I expected him to," said Gandia, explaining the brevity of the free recital.

Arjun, a child prodigy who turns 4 in June, has studied piano with Gandia at Studio 63 in East Brunswick since September.

"He’s going really quickly," Gandia said, adding that the toddler is now working on learning his second book of piano compositions.


Three-year-old Arjun Ayyangar’s feet don’t even come close to touching the ground during his recital.Three-year-old Arjun Ayyangar’s feet don’t even come close to touching the ground during his recital.

In particular, Gandia pointed out that Arjun has perfect pitch, meaning that he can hear a note played on the keyboard and will immediately be able to identify which note is being played. As a result, Gandia said, Arjun can hear simple musical phrases and reproduce them on the piano.

Gandia also understands basic musical terms such as staccato and legato.

The instructor is quick to point out that although Arjun is generally very focused in comparison to other 3-year-olds, his mother does assist in helping him concentrate during music lessons.

"It’s really incredible the things that he learns," Gandia said. "He is really advanced for his age."

According to Arjun’s father, the child’s exceptional musical talents first became apparent when he was 2 years old. At that point, the Ayyangars had given him a children’s piano book that showed the notes corresponding to keys on a keyboard. By following that book, he learned to play the notes of children’s songs on a toy keyboard, his father said.

From that point, Arjun then made the transition to a standard piano keyboard. With his basic knowledge of notes and pitch, Arjun figured out the notes to each song he tried to play, his father said.

His abilities go beyond music though, as his family said his intelligence is exceptional for a 3-year-old.

According to both Vijay Ayyangar and Gandia, Arjun can identify all the states on a United States map, name all the countries on a globe, as well as their capitals and flags, and recite the names of United States presidents. He can also complete simple addition, multiplication and division, and is currently learning five languages including Arabic.

His father said he hopes that Arjun, now enrolled in preschool at the Marlboro Montessori Academy School, will attend a gifted children’s program at the Juilliard School in New York next year. That program meets one day a week, he said.

"They require that the students attend a regular school," he said.

Gandia is preparing Arjun for a program that is designed for children under 11 years old.

"The requirements are very strict. It may take a while to prepare him to be at that level," Gandia said.

Gandia said he sees a promising future for his pupil, as long as he persists in his training and remains disciplined.

"If he keeps it up at this rate, I believe he could become a world-class piano player," the teacher said.


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