12-Year-Old Piano Prodigy Plays For Free For Local Seniors
He's been sharing his incredible talent with them for over six years.
Christopher Nguyen isn't the most outgoing kid ever.
The 12-year-old admits that he's awkward around most people and he says it's hard for him to speak in front of his class.
But, sit him down in front of a piano, and all of that seems to melt away.
Nguyen's parents say they noticed their son's appreciation for music at an early age. When he was just 5 years old, Nguyen was able to identify music notes on the radio – well before he had any musical training.
"Yes, it was really amazing," Nguyen's mother, Maggie Hoang told NBC Bay Area. "He was only 5 1/2, a little tiny, tiny little boy with tiny fingers. He was able to pick up music really quickly."
Hoang got her son into piano lessons shortly after. Just over a year later, Nguyen was ready for his first gig.
Hoang suggested that he play for the residents at the Water's Edge Lodge, an assisted living facility near their home in Alameda, CA. She thought it would be a great way for him to not only get some practice playing in front of people, but it was an opportunity for him to give back to his community.
Nguyen plays piano for the residents at the Waters Edge Lodge every other Friday. AEC Living/Facebook
So, Nguyen started holding mini-recitals at the Lodge every other Friday, an event that quickly became popular with the Lodge's residents and staff.
"He's a genius on the piano, he's like a mini-Mozart," David Ballerini, the Director of Marketing for the facility, said. "He shreds."
Here's another group of young musicians using their talents to make a difference for nursing home patients: Bridging Generations Through Music
When word of his free concerts got out, Nguyen was featured in a book called 'Unselfish Kids' that tells the stories of children who are making the world a better place.
As for his audience, their appreciation for the music was obvious from the beginning. Some clap their hands as Nguyen plays, some smile, others shed tears.
"I think he's a genius a musical genius. We couldn't believe here is this little boy playing these wonderful things on the piano," resident Sarah O'Connell said.
Six years later, Nguyen still makes regular appearances at the Lodge where he plays classical tunes for his favorite audience. He says he never arrives with a playlist in mind – he simply chooses songs based on the expressions of those around him.
As for what Nguyen gets out of the performances, it's simple.
"I enjoy making people happy," Nguyen said. "I enjoy putting a smile on people's faces."