Someone once defined a child prodigy as a perfectly ordinary kid with an imaginative mother.
In the case of piano player David Belkin of Fair Lawn, there’s no doubt about his being prodigiously gifted. At the age of 12, he’ll be playing at Carnegie Hall on April 17, as a result of winning first place in an international piano contest for the gifted and talented. He also won the Young Pianist Competition organized by the Piano Teachers Congress of New York.
But he’s no Johnny-One”“Note. He also plays on the Montclair hockey team and the Fair Lawn hockey team. And he plays saxophone with the school band. He’s also into basketball and tennis. Oh, and the guitar.
What David is not is: predictable.
So, what does he want to be when he grows up? An anesthesiologist.
|David Belkin plays in Beckstein Piano Hall in New York City after having won a piano competition.|
What? Does he know any anesthesiologists?
No, but he’s interested in the life sciences and chemistry,
What’s the relationship – if any -between hockey and piano playing? “I just give it my best – and try to be the best.”
His favorite pianists? Again, a surprise. The first name he mentions is Billy Joel. Then come Lang Lang and Yefgeny Kissin.
His favorite composers? Frederic Chopin and Franz Liszt. In fact, with this year being Liszt’s 200th birthday, David is trying to learn to play as much of Liszt’s music as possible.
He’s also played Beethoven’s Pathethique sonata, and on his own -without his music teacher – has ventured into the Moonight sonata. (You can see and hear him play if you go to YouTube and enter his name.)
But remember, he’s unpredictable. He also listens to a lot of music on the radio – and very much likes rock bands.
How long does he practice the piano every day? Two hours. Does he like practicing? Well, sometimes he’s not in the mood.
Where he gets his piano playing ability is no surprise. His teacher is his mother, Marina, who runs a well-regarded school in Fair Lawn, Believe in Music. The school has won a variety of awards: 2010 and 2011 Certificates of Excellence of the International Young Musicians Festival, and the 2008 Award of the Associated Board of the Royal School of Music in London.
Marina Belkin and her husband, Mark – a computer expert who works in New York City – made aliyah from Baku, Azerbaijan, in 1990. She became fluent in Hebrew. When her family came to the United States in 1999, she was able to get a position teaching Judaic studies at the Solomon Schechter School in New Milford. She taught there for three years, then opened her music school.
Marina herself started playing the piano at age 5 in Russia, and appeared with a symphony orchestra at age 10. So there’s no question whose musical genes David inherited.
The Belkins have two other children: a daughter, Diana, who remained in Israel when her parents emigrated, serving in the army. After her two years were up, she came to the United States, learned to be a paralegal, married a Jewish man, and now lives in Springfield. Their other son, Eugene, has just graduated from New York University business school. “He plays the piano very well, too, but not as good as David,” says their mother.
David is a seventh-grade student at the Thomas Jefferson Middle School in Fair Lawn, and he is, not surprisingly, a very good student. On Saturdays he even attends a program in Ho-Ho-Kus, for gifted and talented students, and is now taking a stock-market class and a medical class.
Does he have any time to read ““ just for fun? Yes, he loves reading. He’s into the Pendragon series by D.J. MacHale. “I love fantasy novels,” says David.