Piano-playing prodigy

Posted

A receptionist asked Bear if she was there to see the renowned music teacher Emilio del Rosario. Bear replied, "No, this is for my daughter."

"Where is your daughter?" the receptionist asked.

Instead of responding, she picked up the diaper-wearing Emily and presented her to the woman.

Like the receptionist at the music institute, many — including Bear's family - find it astonishing that a girl as young as Emily, now 6, has such success and command at the piano.

Emily, who is the granddaughter of Merle Langs-Greenberg, a longtime Woodmere resident and private piano instructor for talented and gifted children, has captivated numerous audiences including most recently on the "Ellen Show." But the young girl's grandmother continues to be her biggest fan.

"She went from not even being able to read a note to reading almost as fluently as I read today in every key," Langs-Greenberg said. "It is a crazy story - we are so amazed."

Langs-Greenberg, who moved from Woodmere last year to be closer to the family, was the first to discover her granddaughter's talent during a weekend trip to the Bears' home in Rockford, Ill. Emily was only two years old at the time, but Langs-Greenberg immediately knew there was something special about her.

Usually, babies and young children tend to slam their fingers down on the piano keys without generating much music. Most likely from listening to her older brother's piano lessons, the two-year-old was already able to play scales and short tunes with superb control.

"I saw this profound fine motor development with the piano,"

Langs-Greenberg said. "I went right back to New York and called Juilliard."

During the call to The Juilliard School, she sounded like a typical grandmother raving about her grandchild's talents, Langs-Greenberg said. However, because of Langs-Greenberg's reputation for cultivating successful musical talent, Juilliard officials listened attentively.

Juilliard referred Emily to Chicago's del Rosario, known as an authority for talented and gifted children. He evaluated the young Emily at the ages of two and three, and took her in as a student at four years old.

Emily's mother Andrea grew up in the Five Towns and attended Ogden Elementary School and Hewlett High School. She also studied music at the University of Michigan, taught for a short time at Lawrence Middle School and also offered private lessons.

Like during her own childhood, Andrea keeps a musical household in Rockford. Her three children have musical talents, so it did not surprise her that Emily held an interest. But she never knew Emily would blossom into a star so quickly.

"I would say it is so surreal, I still can't quite connect with it,"

Andrea Bear said. "I thought all my kids would do piano and music and thought maybe one would go into it, but nothing like this."

In addition to piano, Emily also excels athletically and academically. She is a competitive figure skater, while also taking part in productions such as the "Nutcracker."

"She is a social, bubbly, well-adjusted, goofball, adorable kid —

a normal all-around kid to the 10th power," her mother said.

Emily, who plays classical, jazz and original compositions, performs at Chicago's Thanksgiving parade — one of the largest in the country next to the Macy's parade in New York. Figure skaters will perform around her while the six-year-old plays a song she composed herself. She was also the youngest solo performer at the high-profile Ravinia Festival in Highland Park, Ill.

For more information on Emily, visit www.EmilyBear.com.

Comments about this story? Mcaputo@liherald.com or (516) 569-4000 ext. 210.