‘Half man half piano’: Child prodigy returns with show at Manchester music college

A child prodigy hailed as the new Mozart is set to take Manchester by storm – again.

Shane Thomas, who has been composing music since the age of seven, will appear at the prestigious Royal Northern College of Music (RNCM) on Saturday night.

The young musician last performed in Manchester in June for BBC Music Day.

He led a 45-piece ensemble in a score he had been commissioned to write just two weeks earlier.

Now 16, the pianist has performed to audiences across the UK.

The musician’s dad, Clayton, said that he first realised his son had a remarkable talent at the age of three.

“It was a surreal experience, the school had somebody come in playing tunes on the keyboard,” Clayton told MM.

When the guy left, Shane went into the back room where they’ve got a keyboard and started playing the exact same tune and he was three.

“He didn’t get a piano or lessons because we couldn’t afford one at the time.”

However, at the age of seven, Shane’s nan bought him his first set of keys.

“When the piano arrived, it arrived around Christmas time in the morning and by the end of day one Shane was able to play recognisable tunes using both hands, he just figured out how to do it,” added Clayton.

After contacting a piano teacher, the Thomas family were advised against sending Shane for lessons.

Instead, the young musician was left to develop his playing and compositional skills organically.

“He was able to then compose music without having lessons, he was dreaming up the pieces,” said his dad.

“It’s almost like he’s half human, half piano.”

Shane was taken to the renowned Yehudi Menuhin School where professionals expressed their admiration for his talent, describing him as ‘a one off’ and ‘Mozart-like’.

“It’s a sense of ‘is this the real world or am I living in an imaginary world, can this really be true that my son is regarded as mozart-like’,” Clayton said.

“This makes me immensely proud.” 

Five months after learning to read sheet music, the youngster sat his grade eight exam, having skipped over grades one to seven.

Shane, who attends a private school on a full music scholarship, is modest about his remarkable talent though.

And the young composer says that he has now written over 50 pieces and isn’t running out of ideas.

“Whenever you make music, it’s quite a cocky thing to do because you’re basically saying ‘I’ve made this and I think it sounds good, do you think it sounds good’,” Shane told MM.

“Inspiration just seems to come to me from nowhere.

“Sometimes it’s not at the piano, I’ll just hear something in my head or hear some noise of some sort and it will trigger me to think of something musical.

“It doesn’t have to be sound, I could see something or experience something, it could be anything really.

Shane, who often writes scores for entire orchestras, said that he would eventually like to compose music for films and video games.

“I used to play a lot of video games and I think the music used to be one of the most important parts,” said Shane.

“What happens in the games is flexible.”

Shane first played in Manchester just four months after getting his first piano at the age of seven.

Chosen as one of seven gifted children to perform that evening, the event was attended by 2000 people including the likes of Wayne Rooney, Kym Marsh and Jack Ryder.

At tonight’s gig, the 16-year-old will perform a collection of his original pieces both on his own and accompanied by musicians from the RNCM.

“He’s a very cool character, he takes everything in his stride,” added his dad.

“It’s like there’s a peaceful river running through him.

“He’s got an unbelievable amount of energy to work until three or four in the morning and then start again at seven in the morning.

“He does do this and you think Shane you really need to rest or take time out and I do my best to get him away so that he has fun.

“He’s doing what he absolutely loves, it’s a passion and he can’t stop.”

Image courtesy of the BBC, via YouTube, with thanks.

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