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Prodigy, 4, Plays One Mean Trumpet

When you first see Geoffrey Gallante, he looks like any other four-year-old.

He loves doing puzzles and learning flags of foreign countries.

But, reports Melinda Murphy, it's when you

Geoffrey that you know he's something special.

Geoffrey plays trumpet, and is so good that he jams with a jazz band on Friday nights.

He is, says Murphy, a natural.

The Alexandria, Va. boy first picked up a trumpet at his grandmother's house at the tender age of three. The instrument was so big, he had to rest it on his knee.

"He said he wanted to try it," recalls his mother, Beth Bingham, "and so I showed him how to blow a note, because I played the trumpet when I was like in fifth or sixth grade. And low and behold, he blew a note."

Geoffrey was in love.

The challenge, says his father, David Gallante, was finding him a teacher.

"I called about a half dozen of them," David remembers. "And they all said the same thing, 'You know, four years? No. You don't teach a four year old trumpet.' "

But all Dave Detwiler had to do was hear Geoffrey to realize he had talent, and that he wanted to teach him.

"The first day I heard him," Detwiler says, "I looked and went, 'Oh, my goodness."

Detwiler marvels to this day about the boy he says appears to be a prodigy: "After 35 years of teaching, I've never seen a four year old who's able to read music on an eighth or ninth grade level. It would take four or five years to train somebody, a normal student, to play the way he plays."

That's right, Murphy exclaims, read music! While other kids are still learning their ABCs, Geoffrey already knows his musical keys.

And Geoffrey, whose feet dangle from the stool, has only been taking lessons a few months.

The two first met at band camp, a four year old among junior high school kids, each about 10 years older than the star pupil.

"They have four levels of band, based on the kid's talent," David says. "And so he auditioned on his trumpet and he made the highest level band in that camp."

Geoffrey knows scores of songs at this point, and eats up playing trumpet music in public.

But he won't play "Mary Had a Little Lamb," saying it's "for babies" and something he learned in his first lesson.

And, Murphy points out, if you're worried that Geoffrey is simply the product of stage parents, you needn't be.

"It comes from his heart," observes Bingham, his mother. "You know, he's got soul. He's got, whatever it takes to do it, he's got it. Whatever it is, he has it. And I think he really enjoys it."

No one is sure where Geoffrey's talent comes from, since there are no big-time musicians on either side of his family tree.

But there's no denying he has a gift, Murphy concludes, and a future as big as his sound.

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