Joshua Close was near the top of his age group in a prestigious competition.
The eight-year-old Riverbend resident, who recently moved from North Kildonan, placed second in his age group at the Music for Young Children International Composition Festival. This was his first entry into the contest.
For the contest, Close wrote a piece called Untitled, which was inspired by a vision of a monkey swinging and grabbing bananas.
Entering the contest is part of Close’s musical education through Glenelm-based teacher Terri Myers, who has worked with Joshua since he was three.
"They get all the students to write a composition," said Close’s mother Amanda. "In the weeks leading up to the Composition Festival, his teacher went over different composition techniques.
"She gave them papers and gave them free reign."
Amanda explained Joshua was able to come up with a piano line fairly quickly.
"He came up with the melody first. He was humming it in his head. He worked on getting those notes down," said Amanda. "Then once he had the melody, he tried to think of a story that went with it."
She said the final step for Joshua was to figure out which notes the left hand should be playing to go along with the right-hand actions.
Myers described the composition entries of her students as something that begins as a "homework assignment" but often winds up becoming much more. Myers said she gave all her students a base from which to work, and they took it from there.
"I didn’t do much," said Myers. "We learned four different techniques of composing... When you give them the opportunity, it’s amazing to hear the music that comes out of their heads."
Myers said in February, Close and some other students worked on a musical called Snow Biz!, which she described as the most difficult one she’d worked on in her 25-plus years of experience.
"He knew the whole musical – five or six songs, plus all the lines, in about a month," she said. "He had the whole thing memorized."
While Joshua primarily focuses on piano, he also learns recorder at École Riverbend, where he is in Grade 3. Amanda said Joshua works to figure out how to transpose songs from one instrument to the other.
"The songs he learns on recorder, he tries to translate to piano," said Amanda. "And he’s always trying to take his piano pieces and figure them out on recorder. He goes back and forth."