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Archive for Thursday, May 18, 2006

Preschool prodigy a smashing success

Little drummer boy

May 18, 2006

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For their birthdays, most 5-year-old boys want Hot Wheels, a bicycle or a computer game.

Not Robbie Matthews.

"The only thing he wanted - and I mean the only thing - was a pedestal for his drum kit," said Robbie's mother, Kris Matthews. "We couldn't talk him into wanting anything else."

She wasn't surprised. "Since he was 10 months old, he's never had a security blanket, never had a teddy bear," Kris said. "For him, it was drum sticks. They were his security."

Robbie and a three-piece band led by his father, Paul Matthews, on piano, performed three Beatles' tunes - "Help," "All My Loving" and "Eight Days a Week" - and The Troggs' chestnut "Wild Thing" during a morning assembly Wednesday at East Heights Early Childhood Center, 1430 Haskell Ave.

Also in the band were Doug Byers on guitar and East Heights custodian James "Mr. T" Thomas, on bass.

They had the joint rockin'. Or, as Robbie said afterward, "That was awesome!"

Paul, 45, plays drums in the local band Blue Orleans, and with Billy Ebeling. He also gives lessons.

"Robbie can play," Paul said.


Five-year-old Robbie Matthews beats away on a miniature drum set as he sings "Wild Thing" on Wednesday at East Heights Early Childhood Center, 1430 Haskell Ave. He also performed several Beatles songs for his school friends in a band with his father, Paul Matthews, on piano; Doug Byers on guitar; and East Heights custodian James "Mr. T" Thomas on bass. Robbie has been interested in drums since he was 10 months old.

Five-year-old Robbie Matthews beats away on a miniature drum set as he sings "Wild Thing" on Wednesday at East Heights Early Childhood Center, 1430 Haskell Ave. He also performed several Beatles songs for his school friends in a band with his father, Paul Matthews, on piano; Doug Byers on guitar; and East Heights custodian James "Mr. T" Thomas on bass. Robbie has been interested in drums since he was 10 months old.

Though Robbie writes and draws right-handed, he plays drums, Paul said, "like he's ambidextrous."

Paul said his son has been diagnosed as "high functioning autistic," adding, "I really haven't taught him that much; he watches instructional videos and just picks it right up."

Robbie also sings while he plays drums.

"That's not as easy as it sounds," Paul said.

The family recently watched the "Monterey Pop" video, which features a 24-year-old Jimi Hendrix and one of Robbie's favorite drummers, The Who's Keith Moon.

"That was a mistake," Paul said. "Not too long after that, (Robbie) smashed his ukulele imitating Hendrix, and he tipped over his drum set imitating Keith Moon."

Robbie wanted to play The Who's "My Generation" during Wednesday's assembly, but Paul said no.

"I was afraid he'd knock over his drums," Paul said laughing.

In the fall, Robbie will be a kindergartner at Sunset Hill School.

His parents are sure he'll do well. "East Heights has been great," Kris said. "They've really worked on his strengths and, at the same time, made him a more well-rounded kid. This is a wonderful program."

One drawback: East Heights preschool is all-day, but kindergarten at Sunset Hill will be half-day.

"That's a disappointment," Paul said. "We were really hoping for all-day kindergarten."

Earlier this week, Lawrence school officials said the district's state-aid allocation wasn't enough to cover the costs of converting half-day kindergarten to all-day.

The Matthewses also have a 3-year-old daughter, Leah.

Comments

Nikki May 8 years, 7 months ago

Awesome, my 4 year old can keep a steady beat, but I don't think he's ready to play full songs. That's just great. Good luck in kindergarten, Robbie. I'm sure you'll love it.

craigers 8 years, 7 months ago

What's great about seeing little kids play musical instruments is that when they start this young, it just blows you away by their talent. This is cool and I would have a great time watching Robbie knock over his drums.

OldEnuf2BYurDad 8 years, 7 months ago

A five year old imitating the musical stylings of Hendricks, Moon and The Troggs? He's had more influences in his life than just watching Noggin.

He's not the first child prodigy drummer I've seen. What's interesting is that child prodigies like this usually burn out. You expect to see them playing in the Tonight Show band in 20 years, but you don't.

audvisartist 8 years, 7 months ago

Right now I've got my "just turned 2-year old" on drums, guitar, and piano. He started off with a piano "exersaucer" at around 4 months and now the first thing he wants when he wakes up in the morning is his Pig Nose half-size guitar and the last thing he does at night is play his drum set for about 30 minutes. It helps him unwind and get any excess energy out of his system. I've been doing the music thing since I was 3 so I wanted to get him started even earlier than I did, and so far it's been a blast seeing him enjoy what I've also enjoyed my whole life. I really liked this article. Way to go Robbie! As for the comment on burning out, I do have to somewhat agree with OldEnuf2BYurDad... I've quit playing music all together for stretches at a time, but I always find myself being called back for more. It's done me well, but every once in a while you just have to step back and enjoy art in a different form! :)

Meatwad 8 years, 7 months ago

I just forwarded this story to 2 people who had direct contact with Keith Moon. One (Tony Fletcher) wrote Keith's biography. He has 2 kids and he'll like this story.

KsTwister 8 years, 7 months ago

Robbie turned down a chance to come onstage for a Beatles look alike band-----which are his very favorites. But until you see this boy play and sing"Baby,you can drive my car" you haven't seen nothing yet. He is not just good,he's great just like his parents.

pundit 8 years, 7 months ago

Great article... keep him away from Keith Moon articles. Ha!

OldEnuf2BYurDad 8 years, 7 months ago

"Wild thing..."

[de-smash, smash, smash... smash, smash]

"you're better than Bar-ney..."

[de-smash, smash, smash... smash, smash]

"you make eeeeeverything... groovy..."

[de-smash, smash, smash... smash, smash]

planetwax 8 years, 7 months ago

Closed eyes and lips on the mike with fluid wrists...it's obvious he has a love for music. But, we've known this for sometime. :) I would love to get my two year old together with her friends (Robbie and Leah) for a jam session. Let's make a date! ~Planet

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