When Dustin Gledhill walks onto the stage, he captures the attention of his audiences. Sitting down at the grand piano, he begins to play classical melodies. Whispers and quiet gasps of surprise may come from those who hear him play, for Dustin is only six years old!
Dusty began playing the piano when he was three. His parents first recognized his natural talent one day when they came home from church. “Dusty ran into the living room,” his mother explained, “scooted the piano bench up to where he could reach the keys, and began playing ‘I Am a Child of God’ by ear from memory. His fingers were barely long enough to reach more than one key at a time.”
Since then Dusty has played for audiences in Utah and surrounding states. He is often asked to perform before various groups, including the members of the Oak Hills First Ward, in Provo, Utah, where he and his family attend church.
“I love to play the piano,” Dusty tells people. “My favorite piece is Beethoven’s Opus 49, no. 2. That’s a sonata.” Dusty especially likes to play compositions by Bach and Beethoven “because they’re fast!”
Dusty “has a tremendous ear for music,” according to David Hatch, one of Dusty’s piano teachers. “One day he came over to practice a piece—a very difficult work—called Bach’s Invention no. 6, which requires both hands to do a lot of moving. I taught Dusty how to make his hands move correctly and expected him to go home and practice it for a week as my other students do. But Dusty immediately played the movement back to me, as if he’d always known how to play it.”
“Dusty practices as much as two hours a day,” said his mother. “That requires a lot of dedication and self-discipline that most six-year-olds don’t have.”
Dusty enjoys other activities besides playing the piano. He likes to play with his neighborhood friends, help his mom cook, and spend time with his grandmother.
Once when Dusty and his grandmother were watching television together, an opera came on. “I asked Dusty if he’d like to watch cartoons or some other program,” his grandmother said. “But he said he’d rather see how the opera turned out.”
Dusty’s four brothers and sisters have also developed interests in music, which include playing the violin, cello, harpsichord, and flute. And Dusty’s mom and dad believe that his interest in cultural events has helped the whole family enjoy a wider variety of entertainment. “He has helped us become more interested in things like opera and ballet,” his mother said. “It’s a great learning experience for all of us.”
As for Dusty’s future, his mother said that he may continue his music lessons until he is eighteen, and then go on to become a professional. Dusty, however, said that he’d rather be a chef at a Japanese restaurant “where the waiters chop up the food in front of your table!”