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Chance Taylor - the little boy with perfect pitch



Type of Spiritual Experience


A description of the experience

Eighth-grader enjoys gift of perfect pitch

Sandra Diamond Fox

Updated 11:30 pm, Tuesday, February 25, 2014 Newstimes.com

Chance Taylor, 14, an eighth-grader at Broadview Middle School in Danbury, Conn., plays the piano in the school play, "School House Rock Jr." Photo: Carol Kaliff / The News-Times Chance Taylor, 14, an eighth-grader at Broadview Middle School in Danbury, Conn., plays the piano in the school play, "School House Rock Jr."

While I've been told many times in the past that I have a high-pitched voice, I never learned exactly how high it is -- that is, until I met Chance Taylor, a 14-year-old Broadview Middle School eighth-grader. Chance has perfect pitch. As soon as he hears a song, he can play it by heart. Shortly after I met him, he informed me that I talk in an "F-sharp to a B-flat."

What makes Chance's talents especially astounding are all the challenges he has had to overcome since birth. He's legally blind and has developmental delays, which cause him to walk with a limp. He's also not able to make full use of his left hand. And he has Asperger's syndrome, which can affect a person's ability to socialize, communicate and use imagination.

Chance will be playing the piano in Broadview's upcoming performance of "School House Rock Jr." We recently caught up with him at Broadview, along with his father, Michael Taylor, and his school's music teacher, Jill Russell-Benner.

Q: When did you first realize Chance has perfect pitch?

A: (Michael Taylor): His piano teacher told us when he was 8, shortly after we enrolled him in classes. But we already had a good idea before this since any time he hears a song just one time he can replicate it perfectly. He can even tell the pitch of any isolated sound, such as the screech of a bird.

A: (Russell-Benner): I've taught thousands of students over the years and musically, I've never encountered a student like Chance. Chance plays many medleys of artists from classical music to the blues, jazz, rock 'n' roll and recently -- Bob Dylan. He merges songs and modulates every ending into cadences that are nothing less than impressive. He has been blessed with a gift that will take him far in life.

My goal is to have a CD created of all his music he has recorded over the time he has spent at Broadview.

Q: Chance, what school productions have you performed in at Broadview?

A: I play in about three or four shows every year including the spring show, the talent show, and also the Unified Theater show. (Unified Theater is a program where young people with and without disabilities perform together in a production.)

Q: In "School House Rock Jr.," which song do you play?

A: I play "Electricity, Electricity" (sung by Bob Dorough). I'm the only student playing the piano in the entire show.

A: (Russell-Benner): When Chance performs the soprano and alto parts, he's able to play multiple harmonies using his right hand. During rehearsals, he warms the students up by isolating the soprano and alto parts. He knows when the parts are off pitch and plays teacher to correct them. He has gotten so comfortable with the group that he now directs the students as to when and where to come in.

Q: Chance, who has inspired you in your music?

A: Tony DeBlois. He's a blind and autistic musician. He sings in 11 languages and plays 23 instruments. I met him in person when I was in sixth grade, here at my school. We played some songs together.

Q: Do you want to have a career in music when you grow up?

A: Yes. I want to be a piano player who travels the world and performs. I just love playing piano. I would love to ride around to piano halls in a fancy limousine. Hopefully people will see my name in lights one day.

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