Young guitarist has string fever

Eleven-year-old Jared Alpern keeps his eyes closed sometimes when he riffs on his electric guitar. His mother says they do not need to be open because the talent he possesses naturally flows from his fingers.

As Alpern approached the stage at Savannah's nightclub on South Pearl Street in Albany on Saturday, March 29, to perform with his teacher, Charlie Smith, and his band, The Charlie Smith Blues Band, he was more excited than nervous.

It's really fun that the people get to hear my music, he said.

Alpern's interest in being a musician began a little over

two years ago, according to his mother, Laura Bulatao.

Although Alpern also has experience with the piano and keyboard, his mother said he is most impressive and developed with his guitar playing.

He got his first guitar in November 2005. Since then, Alpern spends about an hour per day practicing all of his instruments, "which is really not that much," said Bulatao. "When parents ask me how much he practices, they want to hear that he practices a lot so that he can inspire their kids to practice a lot."

But practice aside, Alpern's skill is combined with a natural-born instinct that less than 1 percent of the population has. North Colonie District Music Supervisor Deborah Kehough labeled this musical gift as "perfect pitch."

"It means that if you hear any note, [a person with perfect pitch] can tell you what it is; they just recognize it immediately," she said. "For example, If I picked a note on a trumpet, somebody with this talent can pick it out, and it is a very rare skill. Jared can hear something, even say on the radio, and he knows that those notes are, say, an E minor chord. And he can immediately play it."

Kehough said that Alpern not only recognizes the sound of the notes, but can instantly repeat them, which allows him to learn and create music more easily.

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