Innovation struck 9-year-old Kylie Smith one day when she was at the piano. She was thinking about sea animals, about their life under the sea, when she began to translate their existence into music.
Now, the Chandler resident just got finished performing her composition, her second one ever, at Yamaha’s Junior Original Concert in Anaheim, Calif., on Jan. 25.
Kylie said she was both surprised to receive an invitation and was about the performance.
“I love playing piano,” she said. “It’s like once you’re in it, you really start to like it and you get to express your feelings.”
Smith attends the East Valley Yamaha Music School, and she preformed her first composition, “A Life that Changes for a Russian Villain,” at last year’s JOC.
This year’s JOC is part of the National Association of Music Merchants Show, which is one of the largest conferences that focuses on musical instrument trade. The concert will feature Kylie’s composition and the work of two other students, both of who are at least three years older than her.
Her dad, Somsak Smith, tied Kylie’s success to her fun and bright personality, which he said translates into her music.
“Plus, she’s very dedicated to (her music). So, on top of enjoying it, she will practice a lot,” he said.
Neither Somsak nor his wife, Stephanie, have any musical talent, but decided to get Kylie involved after they attended an art festival in Tempe. While they were at the festival, they spoke with a man who sold his own compositions. The man’s daughter attended the Yamaha music school, and they decided to let Kylie try it.
Kylie takes an hour group lesson every week, along with a half hour private composition lesson and a half hour instruction lesson at the East Valley Yamaha Music School. On top of those classes, she practices for a minimum of one hour a day.
Somsak said the East Valley Yamaha Music School has contributed greatly to Kylie’s success because the teacher’s work well with her.
“It’s been a place for Kylie to do exceptionally well,” he said.
The Yamaha Music Education Program was started in 1964 in Japan, and focuses on teaching children “the language of music,” Heidi Grimes, Kylie’s teacher at East Valley Yamaha Music School, said. Grimes has worked with Kylie since she first came to the music school, when she was 4.
Since Kylie’s younger brother began attending the school, Kylie has been almost like an assistant teacher for the class.
“Very many children love, love, love music, but there is this special attachment to music with Kylie,” Grimes said.
Grimes said the students invited to play at the JOC must have high levels of creativity and musical talent, which Kylie has.
The piece Kylie performed has three movements: “A Sea Otter’s Band,” “A Dolphin’s Dance” and “A Flying Fish Flight.”
Kylie said each composition takes a minimum of six months to make since she has to get every note written and then learn it piece by piece. She is currently working on another composition that incorporates a violin, which is something she’s never done before.
“I didn’t anticipate adding another instrument,” Kylie said. “When I wrote the song, it turned out to be for three hands and I only have two.”
Kylie said she enjoys composing music because of all the individual parts she can combine to make beautiful music.
“You get to express your feelings and combine chords no one has combined before,” she said. “You get to pick the style of music, chord progression, majors and minors, and sharps and flats.”
• Shelby Slade is a sophomore at ASU’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication. She is an intern with the Tribune this semester. Reach her at email@example.com.