A seven-year-old Dubai school pupil won first prize in a music competition in Paris playing against children several years older than him.
Claudius Tyacke, who first began playing piano two and a half years ago, won first prize in the competition at the Conservatoire Slave de Musique music school last Monday.
His teacher, Shakhnoza Umarova, 27, from Uzbekistan, entered him into the competition because she felt he was getting bored with standard music exams.
“I thought it would be good experience for him. And we were taking a risk because he was still a little young for this type of thing, but it worked well,” said Mrs Umarova, who teaches at World Music Centre.
She said he took part in a group for children with less than three years’ piano playing experience and performed two pieces in the competition - Prelude by Bach in D minor and the Sonata by Mozart in C major.
He was the youngest in his group “by far,” said his mother, Kristiane Tyacke.
“The other children were 12,13,14 and 15. There was a boy who was six-foot tall,” she said.
But Claudius was not phased by the competition, she said.
“I was much more nervous than he was. He is always very calm,” she added.
Mrs Tyacke said they learned that he had won a prize in the competition after they left because Claudius was getting tired.
“It was quite late and he was tired. Shakhnoza, his teacher, said she would wait until the results were out. I even said to her what’s the point?”
She said they were all very surprised – and pleased – that he won a prize.
Mrs Umarova said the judges were very impressed by his ability.
“The [jurors] came to us congratulated us and said he did a very good job and maybe has a very good future in music,” she said.
Claudius, a Year Two pupil at North London Collegiate School in Dubai, started playing piano after developing an interest in the keyboard at home.
“He always liked playing it. His older brothers went to the same music school in Dubai. They did flute and violin. He always wanted to play the piano,” said Mrs Tyacke, who has three other children aged four, and 10 year-old twins.
“When he was little you didn’t have to force him or anything. He enjoys doing it. And obviously practices regularly but not over the top. He is also very sporty. It’s not like he’s being pushed to play for hours and hours.”
Claudius said he was very proud, and a little surprised, to have won first prize.
"The other people were double my size," he said.
He said he liked playing fast pieces in particular – "I like to challenge myself."
Mrs Umarova said that she will continue working with Claudius.
“I want him to perform at a lot of concerts. We won’t stop,” she said.