Can you stand one more blog about piano players? This one is not about my feeble attempts as a kid to emulate Liberace. No, this time I’d like you to tell you about a South Dakota kid who really could be the next Liberace if he wanted..or President of the United States for that matter.
It was about ten years ago, I think, when my Keloland colleague, John Miller, and I were talking..okay BRAGGING..about our grandchildren.
We weren’t intentionally trying to one-up each other but when he mentioned that his 11 year old grandson, Maxwell Meyer, was the house piano player at Roma’s Italian Restaurant in his hometown of Spearfish, he got my full attention. I told John that I gotta meet this kid and do a story on him. John said that Max was coming to stay with them in Sioux Falls for a few days the following week, so we made arraignments to meet at their church which had a very nice grand piano. When the cameraman and I showed up for the interview and to hear the boy play, I confess to having the feeling that grandpa John may have been exaggerating just a tad.
After saying hello, the polite young man sat down to the keyboard and my jaw dropped as he began to play a song he’d written himself! I was dumbfounded to see and hear such grown-up music flow from the touch of his little 11 year old fingers. I looked at John and he was smiling as if to say, “See I told ya.” Max continued to play as the camera rolled. Like a seasoned pro, he went from classical to pop to gospel and jazz without missing a note.
When Max was 6, his parents, Clint and Deb Meyer, bought him an electronic keyboard for Christmas and were more than a little shocked when almost immediately he began picking out melodies on his own. Suspecting they had a prodigy on their hands, Clint and Deb arranged for music lessons and a bigger piano.Max soaked up songs like a sponge and by the age of ten had released his first CD and was working on a second when we met.
“I assume that you plan to make music your life,” I said to Max after we sat down for an interview following his impromptu concert. “Well I do like performing,” he said. “And I really love to compose music but I also like school and sports.” It turns out that Max was an exceptional student and was already pondering a career in medicine, a brain surgeon. As for his talent, the youngster’s humble assessment was that it was simply a gift from God.
For some reason, I got to thinking about that interview last week and decided to call his grandpa John to find out what Max was up to.
Well, It turns out that a wealthy benefactor who had heard Max play and was aware of his superior scholastic skills offered to pay the boy’s tuition to the prestigious Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts where he finished out his last two years of high school graduating with honors in 2008. Today, Max is a junior at Harvard where he has concentrated on Economics and East Asian studies. Plus last summer he interned at the Winston Group in Washington..a firm specializing in political polling and strategy. He also worked for CNN’s top political analyst, David Gergen. Oh, yeah, he’s still very much involved in music at Harvard..composing all the time and performing as often as he can. In fact, late last year, he was invited to speak at a gathering of Phillips Academy supporters in New York City. Max gave an eloquent talk at the podium for a few minutes..then stepped over to the piano and dazzled the audience, in their tuxedos and evening gowns, with a little jazz. To see it click on this website: http://www.facebook.com/phillipsacademy/posts/190609120949517
It’ll be interesting to follow Maxwell Livingston Meyer as life continues to unfold for this “Wunderkind” from Spearfish; Politician..Economist..Physician..Musician..it would seem that all doors are open to him. When I talked to his grandpa John, he said Max is still the same humble kid I interviewed back in 2002 who knows he’s been blessed and is determined to not waste any of his gifts.
One more thing, John also said that when he last talked to his grandson, he was still excited about the hole-in-one he got at the Chevy Chase Golf Club in Washington last summer..his first.
Okay, God..isn’t that overdoing it a little?