October 8, 2009 / 12:58 PM / in 10 years

UK boy a "Mozart" after just 4 months of lessons

LONDON (Reuters Life!) - A 10-year-old British boy is being hailed as a Mozart-like child prodigy by his music teacher after only four months of piano lessons.

Shane Thomas practices for only four hours a week but already plays to a high standard and composes classical music scores in his head, British media reported Thursday.

He first sat down at a piano at the age of seven and could play almost instantly by ear. Since then he has had formal lessons for just four months.

“I told Dad when I was three that I could play but nobody took me seriously. When I’m at school I can listen to the teacher and do my work while composing in my head,” Shane was quoted as saying in the Daily Telegraph newspaper.

His piano tutor, Richard Goffin-Lecar, has compared the boy to Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, who showed prodigious ability during his childhood in 18th century Salzburg and went on to become among the most celebrated classical composers.

“Shane is unique,” he said. “He takes the word gifted to another dimension. Many would consider it pretentious to compare him with Mozart but if one were to listen to him play, one would know it was legitimate.

“I did not so much teach him as give him direction then sit back and watch. Technically he is phenomenal.”

Shane lives with his father Clayton, 48, brother Ashley, four, and sister Chanelle, three, in Woking, Surrey. His parents are separated.

His father said that age seven Shane was given his first keyboard and that within a day he could play it with both hands.

“It was Christmas and straight away he was playing carols like ‘Little Donkey’ and ‘Away In A Manger’ without guidance,” Clayton Thomas said. “Within weeks he played all sorts of complex music and after four months he was performing to 2,000 people at a show in Manchester.”

Nicolas Chisholm, head of the Yehudi Menuhin Music School in Surrey, agrees the boy needs top tutoring.

“Shane is extraordinary but an embryonic talent,” he said.

Reporting by Paul Casciato; Editing by Steve Addison

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