Arts & Entertainment

South End Fourth Grader Writes His Own Music

Credits: Jeanne Moreno
Credits: Jeanne Moreno
Credits: Jeanne Moreno

CEDAR GROVE, NJ – He’s not yet nine years old, but Michael Miller of Cedar Grove is already composing his own music. 

The soon-to-be fourth grader first started playing the piano around age four when he heard his father Rich playing a song on the guitar.  The song “Let It Be” appealed to Michael and he wanted to learn how to play it.

“I don’t play the piano so I looked up the chords on YouTube,” Rich said.  “Within three days he was playing it better than I was so I went to Guitar Center to get him a chord chart.  Within two weeks he had memorized it.  He knew 48 chords before he ever took a lesson.  I knew something was up.”

Sign Up for E-News

Michael can play a song by ear, meaning he can hear it and then decipher the chords.  The electronic keyboard he uses at home has a variety of songs programmed into it and according to his mom Mirvia, copying those songs is how he first started to learn how to play. 

“When he first started to learn I did worry it would just be noise,” Mirvia said.  “But that was never the case.  It never sounded like a mess because he knew all of the chords from the beginning.”

Rich agreed, noting that as Michael learned to copy the songs on the keyboard it became hard to determine where the music was coming from, Michael or the programmed song. 

“So many times I’d be upstairs and hear a song being played and think he was just listening to one of the programmed songs, only to come downstairs and find he was actually playing it,” Rich said.

With Michael’s obvious affinity for music, his parents enrolled him in the Lindeblad School of Music in Pine Brook.  For the first two and a half years Michael worked with Steve Myerson.  Currently he is taught by Dr. Jose Bevia who specializes in music composition making him perfect for Michael, Mirvia added. 

“Michael plays from hearing and he doesn’t like to read sheet music right now,” Mirvia explained.  “His teachers have told us that he really has to do both so he’s learning.”

Michael studies music theory in addition to music composition and guided practice.  He composed and performed his own song “Double Trouble” for his recent recital.  He is currently working on a second composition entitled “Michael’s Birthday Composition” in honor of his upcoming birthday at the end of the month.

To see Michael's recital peformance click here.  

Mirvia said it was clear from an early age that Michael loved music and he often just sits down at the keyboard to jam during the day. But does he sing along to his tunes?

 “I hum a lot and I’m not bad at church songs.  Actually I’m pretty good at them,” he noted.  “I have a very deep voice.”

Michael’s teachers are still undecided on whether or not he has “perfect pitch,” meaning he can identify a given musical note when hearing it without the benefit of a reference tone.   “The jury is still out on whether he has perfect pitch because he is too young,” Rich explained.”  “They won’t commit to it until he is older.”

To demonstrate, Rich played three separate notes on the keyboard and asked Michael to name them.  Michael went three-for-three. 

“He’s really incredible.  We heard ‘Piano Man’ on the radio and I told Michael he should learn how to play that when he gets older,”  Rich shared.  “Two weeks later I suddenly hear him playing it.  I asked him when he learned that and he said he just remembered it from hearing it on the radio.”

When he’s not playing, Michael enjoys listening to classical and pop music.  He named Rob Thomas and Marc Cohn as two of his favorite musicians.  In addition to the piano, Michael can play the recorder which is part of the third-grade music curriculum in Cedar Grove and he is looking forward to learning the cello in fourth grade. 

In school Michael excels in math and geography.  Rich noted that Michael used to be able to name the capitals of all 193 countries in the world.

“The only reason I’m a little rusty (on the capitals), is you haven’t been quizzing me,” Michael told his dad.  Rich then quizzed Michael a bit and he didn’t seem rusty at all.

“Sometimes I have to Google things to see if he’s right,” Mirvia added.

Beyond music and school, Michael is a dedicated Minecraft player and an avid Pokemon card collector, with more than 300 cards in his collection. 

In the future, Michael wants to continue to compose music.  “I want to get famous for playing the piano.  I want to play and compose songs,” he noted. “I also want to play music for fun.  I want to entertain people.” 

More immediately, Michael is looking forward to his birthday on July 25 and his “Minecraft” birthday party complete with “Creeper” piñata.  

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

Verona/Cedar Grove

Investigation Update Regarding Video and Nutley Public Schools

February 19, 2018

In regards to the investigation with the video and the Nutley Schools, I would like every resident  to know that the Nutley Police Department has been working throughout the entire weekend and will continue until no stone is left unturned.

Due to the ongoing investigation, I am unfortunately not able to share all of the details that everyone is so anxiously awaiting.

However, please ...

Cedar Grove Police Blotter

February 13, 2018

February 5, 2018 – February 11, 2018

On February 6, 2018 officers investigated a report of a burglary to two motor vehicles at an Eileen Drive address. An unknown actor had entered the unlocked vehicles during the overnight hours. Residents are reminded to remove valuable items and lock all vehicles in their driveways.

On February 9, 2018 at 3:03 p.m., Ptl. Dominick Buscio stopped a ...

Verona Superintendent Responds to Safety Concerns After Florida School Shooting

February 16, 2018

It saddens me to write to you in the days following the senseless act that occurred in Parkland, Florida. A tragedy that takes innocent lives from their loving families in a place that is suppose to be a safe haven can have an emotional effect on so many people, and it is natural for children and their parents to be concerned for their own safety.

The Verona Public Schools are the foundation ...

East Brunswick Rabbi Charged with Engaging in Prostitution with a Child

February 20, 2018

EAST BRUNSWICK, NJ - Aryeh Goodman, 35, the rabbi from the  East Brunswick Chabad Learning Center has been charged with one count of engaging in prostitution with a child and one count of endangering the welfare of a child.  He was one of thirty men charged with having sex with the teenager over a four-week period.

According to the New Jersey Jewish News, Goodman ...

Upcoming Events


Wed, February 21, 3:00 PM

Cedar Grove Rescue Squad, Cedar Grove

Cedar Grove High School Community Blood Drive

Health & Wellness


Thu, February 22, 6:30 PM

Robert O'Toole Community Center, Cedar Grove

Cedar Grove Chamber of Commerce Meeting and ...

Business & Finance


Sat, February 24, 4:00 PM

Fred Hill Sports Academy, Verona

1st Annual Verona Charity Cornhole Tournament

Giving Back Sports

Cedar Grove High School’s Sport Management Class Joins #TeamZoey in the Fight Against Progeria

February 16, 2018

CEDAR GROVE, NJ- Cedar Grove High School’s Syracuse University Project Advance has decided to donate all proceeds from this year’s Annual Orange Invitational Volleyball Tournament to the Progeria Research Foundation. The Progeria Research Foundation is an organization geared to search for a cure to put an end to the terminal disease of progeria.

Progeria is a very rare disease, yet ...

'What Stays' exposes family secrets and lies

‘What Stays’ exposes family secrets, resentment and lies

By Liz Keill

SUMMIT, NJ – In an original play by Laura Ekstrand and Jason Szamreta, the Dreamcatcher Repertory Theatre has provided an enlightening, funny and heart-felt view of family foibles.

Ekstrand has said that the germ of the play came from conversations with the ensemble members of the troupe, based on ...