LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) - Playing a musical instrument is no easy task, but a local student makes it look effortless despite the obstacles. There are many for Davon Carter, a special education student at Valley High School. He picked up the piano years ago and has been playing songs of success ever since.
“It makes me feel happy,” Carter said. “It helps me to explore my adventures.”
The 17-year-old is a piano prodigy with an unlikely path.
“I would call it piano rockstar,” Carter said. “Yes, I am very proud of myself. I want people to know about me playing piano.”
Carter has autism. He’s transformed the disability into a different ability.
"I just play the right notes and then rehearse for the choir,” Carter said.
He makes it sound simple, but it's quite remarkable. Carter’s instrument expertise is part gift and part Google.
“It has all of the keys and the keyboard – 49, 61, 76, or 88, or maybe 73 sometimes. I learned that from the internet,” Carter said.
A couple years ago, Carter started playing a keyboard in his special education teacher's classroom. He'd taken a few lessons here and there, but his natural talent was undeniable. That casual concert turned into another assignment, landing the now senior a spot in the choir.
“He’s able to piece together music by ear, very complicated pieces of music- Beethoven sonatas, Mozart sonatas, music he’s heard on video games, music he’s heard on TV, music that he’s heard on YouTube, and pieces that we’ve heard in class,” Valley High School Director of Vocal Music Ian Hooper said. “It’s pretty amazing to watch him piece together these complicated pieces in parts. He’d take two fingers and play two notes of the harmony at a time and add the base line and slow the metronome very slow so that he could do it accurately.”
Every psalm, song, and sonata has solidified him as a staple for the singers.
"It's working. What I've discovered is that at some point in time, he also has learned how to read music,” Hooper said.
That skill has changed Carter’s role from just practices to performances, taking his talents from the classroom to concerts as the newest accompanist for the men's choir.
"He's able to participate in something and be a leader in something he really, really loves,” Hooper said.
It’s a group of people who feel the same about him.
“They are extremely impressed by him. I am impressed by his talent even more every single day,” Hooper said.
Carter’s teachers are hoping he can find a job playing music as an accompanist when he graduates. He’s already well on his way to impressing the masses, even performing for state legislators and JCPS Interim Superintendent Dr. Marty Pollio when they visited Valley High School a few weeks ago.
In high school, it can be easy to get lost in the crowd, but the kid behind the bright piano is very much a shining star.