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Young guitarist has string fever

"Often [people with perfect pitch] are drawn to music in some way. When they play their instrument, they just know, this is where G is," she said.

Alpern's guitar teacher, Charlie Smith, believes the boy is part of a fraction of young musicians with few of the concerns that are typically associated with performing.

"They've got great confidence and don't have much fear. When he gets in front of a crowd, he gets excited as hell, but it sure isn't fear."

Smith had first learned about Alpern when he was playing a benefit concert at a local mall. He and five of his friends noticed Alpern playing the piano.

"Jared just appeared all of a sudden playing a Beatles song," he said.

Alpern stands "little for his age," according to his mother, with a small physique, an innocent face, and longer-than-shoulder-length wavy brown hair.

Smith, his teacher of about six months, said Alpern is rarely uneasy, especially in front of large crowds.

"He wants me to book him at SPAC [Saratoga Performing Arts Center]," said Bulatao. "He is totally un-phased by crowds. He tells me, 'The more people the better.'"

And Smith is confident that with Alpern's abilities, he soon will be able to play at such large shows.

"Let me just say, he's 11 years old. I didn't even play a guitar or an instrument at 11. At that point, for someone to play at that age at that ability is uncommon," he said. "He's a little guy with little hands carrying a big guitar."

With Smith's instruction, Alpern has learned that musicianship is mostly mental but also very physical.

Smith said his motto is "no drugs, no thugs," and that he plans to, at some point, open up a blues school for young musicians like Alpern, which will involve teaching music, as well as lots of physical activities.

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