CHICAGO—How many six year olds can say they performed at the white house? Emily Bear can make that claim. The little girl from Rockford, Illinois was born to play the piano. And as WGN's Steve Sanders reports, Emily also writes much of her own music.
This is the story of a little girl who was born with a gift. And she opened that gift early.
Emily Bear: "It just comes out of me, just comes out." Steve Sanders: "Where does it come from?" Emily: "I don't know, probably my heart."
You could call her a piano prodigy, though the "P" word is never used in the Bear home.
"This is all unknown territory for all of us," says Andrea Bear, Emily's mother. "I've heard about kids like this, I never thought I'd have one."
Her siblings, 12 year old Benji, and 7 year old Lauren, are also talented musicians.
"My brother plays acoustic and electric guitar and my sister plays the harp and piano and I only play the piano but I would like to play the flute."
Emily was "discovered" four years ago by her grandmothers. One of them, Merle Langs, is a concert pianist, who has made a career of teaching musically gifted children like Emily.
"I just love music, it's my passion."
Four years ago, Emily's Mom and Dad took a trip and left Grandma Merle in charge. She heard someone playing piano and thought it was the eldest child.
"I was overwhelmed. It was the baby who was 2 years old and one month, playing a ""C" scale with 3 fingers. "
home video-"Play your scale Emmy... That's wonderful!"
Grandma Merle immediately contacted the prestigious Juilliard School of Music in New York. "He said there's only one person in the country. His name is Emilio del Rosario. He teaches at the Music Institute of Chicago."
With instruction from del Rosario and many generous mentors, including Mary Sauer, the Chicago Symphony's principal keyboardist, Emily has blossomed.
They're practicing Mozart's Concerto #23 that Emily will play with the Rockford Symphony Orchestra.
MARY SAUER/CHICAGO SYMPHONY PIANIST "What she does in her music is all the styles she plays in she is speaking directly from inside of her which is why jazz is so comfortable for her."
Yet her favorite song is not jazz or Mozart, but one she wrote herself for "Mr. D," her loving piano teacher who is now ill.
Steve: "What do you want to be when you grow up? " Emily: "A composer. I like Mozart because he's kinda like me and I'm kinda like him."
Like playing, Emily's composing pours from her heart. It's her patience with fumble-fingered adults like me she has to work on. With keyboard chops that would be the envy of most adults, it's easy to forget, Emily is still a child.
"This one is my favorite. Know why? I got it at the White House."
Steve asks Emily's mother... "What is your hope for her?" Andrea bear: "To be happy, seriously, to have good values, to be at peace in her heart. To be a really good grown up."
But until then the one thing Emily wants you to know? "Actually, I'm just a normal kid that plays piano. And most, I like inspiring kids."