Local 9-year-old dubbed piano prodigy

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SAN DIEGO - A 9-year-old boy is receiving international acclaim for being one of the youngest and most talented piano players.

“I just love piano and I don’t think about it; I just play,” said Malvyn Lai.  “I just move my fingers and it works.”

The fourth grader plays everything from Chopin to Beethoven, but he said Mozart is his favorite because of how the music makes him feel.

Lai first fell in love with the piano at age 4 during his older sister’s music recital.

“I really liked the way the piano sounded like really grand, so I asked my mom if I could play at age 4, but they said I was too young,” said Lai.

Within a year Lai began playing. His instructor, Irina Bendetsky, said that at the time, he couldn’t even reach the pedals, but he was already playing the classics.

“Melvin is very special as a boy and as a musician. He is a musician already. I can name him that,” said Bendetsky.

The young pianist has already performed at the renowned Carnegie Hall in New York City five times and has received countless awards.

“I like it now even more than when I was a kid, because I keep practicing and get to higher levels and can play more beautiful pieces … and deliver the message of the music to other people,” said Lai.

His mother also had a dream of playing the piano but never got a to pursue it fully while growing up in Taiwan. The Lai family moved to San Diego 17 years ago to give their children a better life.

“My goal is actually to become a concert player and go to music school and graduate from there,” said Lai.

He will be playing with the Temecula orchestra in April and over the summer will go to Moscow for a special performance.