Young pianist’s skill leads him to state performance | Wyoming


DOUGLAS – Becky Smylie can’t remember what business it was. She is racking her brains, plundering the hazy memories of the past 13 years to no avail.

Her nighttime routine in early 2008 rarely strayed from her path. After a long, excruciating day at work – comparable to a class for a brand new mom – Smylie was sitting in her lounge chair, her face lit only by the light from the TV screen.

In her arms, Smylie held her baby, Frank, keeping him warm while he drank from his hot milk bottle.

Frank was a relatively calm baby, rarely freeing the weak spot in his head from his mother’s tender grip.

There was only one rare exception: every time this ad was on TV.

“Maybe it was Verizon or AT&T, some kind of phone service, I mean. I really don’t remember,” Becky now admits. “But every time that commercial was on TV, Frank would shoot his little head to listen. Every time. “

Something about that ad and the eye-catching jingle playing behind it. The middle ear may have completely missed the song. It was high pitched but calm, barely audible on the louder voices in the foreground of the commercial.

But little Frank heard it.

He could hear the music, and every time the ad was replayed, he would look at the light on the screen. And without fail, every time it ended, her head would turn right away in her mother’s arms.

This completely random commercial was, if you will, the opening note of Frank’s current song. This publicity led her parents – Becky and Lowell Smylie – to a compelling revelation.

“He had music in him, even from an early age. Becky said. “Looking back, that’s where it all started. And it was magnificent.

“Music is just something I always enjoyed,” says Frank, now 13 and soon to be in eighth grade. “I can’t really explain it.”

As Frank grew older, his parents looked for different avenues for him to express himself musically. First it was dancing.

“I remember when he got into second grade he had to take those ‘brain breaks’ and he would dance during them. And I remember he was going dancing crazy. I was just like, ‘Whoa, alright!’ Becky remembers.

So she enrolled her son in dance lessons. It did not work.

Then, at 10, he took pleasure in playing the saxophone. It was a wonderful experience, but his classes only lasted a year.

It’s because at age 11, Frank developed a passion that he may never give up: the piano.

“It was so much fun for me to learn songs on the piano,” he explains. “I enjoyed working on them and being able to say I accomplished them. And as I went along, I saw deeper into the musical world. It grew my love for the piano, being able to just enjoy the music and also dive deeper into whatever is behind it. “

Frank’s progress was surprisingly fast, as he quickly began to outgrow other children his age. He studied piano with Cindy Barnard at Douglas for a year, before she informed him that retirement was in his plans.

“Cindy kind of casually mentioned that she was going to have to hand Frank over to someone else,” Becky said. “So I said, ‘Oh, I guess I better start looking then.'”

“I looked at Casper College all the teachers they had there. And that’s where I found it.

By “she”, Smylie refers to Paula Flynn – Casper College pianist, founder of the Way Out West Music Academy and relentless ball of positive energy.

Flynn invited Frank for an interview – a personalized process for all of his prospective students – and Frank immediately felt drawn to Flynn’s radiant personality.

“She was so energetic, so full of energy. It took me a bit by surprise, ”concedes Frank. “But I could just tell that she was really passionate about what she does and how she teaches. And I could tell she was professional in the way she did things.

Flynn’s first goal with Frank was simple: to test his progression abilities.

“What I worked on with Frank was figuring out where he stood in level,” Flynn notes. “Freshmen tend to have a hard time being musical, if that makes sense. But Frank, he’s got so much joy to play. And he’s so quick-witted.

“Holy cats, this kid is fast.”

The teenager’s “quick wit” earned him a place in Flynn’s program. He spent a year learning and growing at Way Out West.

“Since that first training with Ms. Flynn, it was such a different style. She had a whole new world of ways to practice and learn techniques that a lot of top musicians use.

And last June, the opportunity of a lifetime arrived. Frank was offered the chance to perform at the Wyoming State Achievement Day concert.

“I could not believe it,” he says even a month later. “I was so excited and proud of my accomplishments.”

“He deserved it,” Flynn says. “He was selected to play ‘The Butterfly’, which was that very delicate piece. And let me tell you, he played it beautifully.

Frank was one of 20 Wyoming children selected to participate in the concert at Casper. He was the sole representative of Douglas.

“To qualify for the gig, you really have to be able to perform,” says Flynn. “You have to show real artistic talent. You have to play all the right notes, all the right rhythms. And Frank did that. He was amazing.

Lowell Smylie believes Flynn helped unleash his son’s “innate ability” at the piano.

“He has so much natural talent. Even when he trains with her and makes a mistake, she doesn’t need to tell him to start over. He knows what he has done wrong and immediately tries to fix it. They’re already on the same page without even having to say a word, ”Lowell explains.

Lowell concludes his thoughts with an offer.

“You’re already here,” Lowell said with a chuckle. “You might as well hear him play a song.”

Frank’s eyes light up as he grabs his songbook with a smile. He enthusiastically rushes over to the Yamaha brown grand piano in the living room, sitting down on its leather stool.

He glances in the direction of his parents who both nod reassuringly. He announces that he is going to play one of his favorite songs, a catchy classic called “Clowns” by famous Russian composer Dmitry Kabalevsky.

A big breath later, Frank does exactly that: he plays. And it is amazing.

His talent is undeniable; his experience of only two years rivals that of those who have three times as much, if not more. He has the coin.

The faces of his parents cannot mask their pride in their son, and they shouldn’t have to. He is gifted beyond his years, and he only gets thinner with relative age.

Frank had the music in him ever since he was a baby in his mother’s arms.

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