Caleb Spjute is a rising 16-year-old piano virtuoso from Murray, Utah. When he was just four years old, he watched his older brother, Micah, learn to play the piano from his aunt. In an interview with the Murray Journal in August 2010, Caleb said, “It looked like fun and I wanted to play and try it.”
He did not have a piano teacher, but because of his eagerness and determination to play the piano, his mother, Becca, gave him the beginning piano books, pointed to the notes middle C, D, and E and let him take it from there. From there he took off reading ahead and figuring out how to play himself. His mother recalls, “Caleb took that book, read through it and began figuring it out. He said he’d like a song and then I’d find it on the Internet and print it off and he’d figure that out.”
At his young age, Caleb had found his niche and would be found playing the piano nonstop. In a year’s time, he could master such pieces as “The Entertainer.” He also became a teacher of sorts himself, showing his parents where the hands should be placed and what notes to play. It was also about this time that it was discovered that he was ahead of the academic learning curve, so his parents had him skip kindergarten.
After teaching himself for two years, he was fortunate to be accepted as the private pupil of an extraordinary concert pianist and Associate Director of Music at the University of Utah in March 2009. After just one year of private lessons with Dr. Vedrana Subotic, Caleb competed in the University of Utah’s Summer Arts piano competition with students up to 10 years of age. He won four awards: 1st in solo performance, 1st in theory, 2nd in sightreading and the Iron Man Award for best all-around in his age division. His mother commented, “I thought he was just this cute little kid who played. I knew he must have talent, but I didn’t know he was that good.”
Caleb now has an instructor who is teaching him the proper way to play the piano. To show their support and to help keep him motivated, his parents created a Facebook page and a blog where they post videos of him playing.
Caleb has achieved several accolades in his short time playing. One of his own compositions won Murray School District’s Reflections music category and advanced to state. In the Spring of 2011, he won first place Piano Concerto in the Con Brio Piano Competition. He won the award again in 2012, and in March 2012, he was invited to play in his first concert playing a concerto with a live orchestra. He has thrice performed concerti with symphony orchestras and has performed at various universities and venues throughout Utah, California, Arizona, and Idaho. He is the pianist of over six school and community choirs, performs as a jazz pianist in his school jazz band, and regularly accompanies violin, guitar, and vocal students.
Caleb has a musically inclined family. His father is a singer, his older brother, Micah, plays guitar, and his sister plays the violin. His mother said, “I took piano lessons for two years and violin for a year, but I’d be the band manager.” The family volunteers to perform at senior homes.
Caleb’s goal in life is to become a professional piano player. He said, “I want to play at The Roof (restaurant) and be a piano teacher someday.” He plans on seeking a degree in Piano Performance and Composition and hopes for a successful future in music. He is the organist for his church and volunteers monthly playing for hospitals, care centers, and nursing homes. His family is happy to support him in making his dreams become a reality.
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