Long Island piano prodigy impresses parents, teachers, online fans

Jesse Hubbs might seem like any ordinary 6th grader.

"We first thought he was very gifted in tennis," said Greg Hubbs, Jesse's father.

But his parents and teachers quickly learned he was a piano prodigy.

"At NYSSMA level 6, the other students who achieve that level depending on their instrument are usually students who are older who are in high school, 11th or 12 graders," said Julia Lang-Shapiro, the director of media, visual and performing arts in the Long Beach School District.

The Long Beach middle school student began playing the piano when he was 5 and couldn't even reach the keys. Six years later, Bach and Beethoven have become a way of life.

Jesse doesn't use sheet music because he commits it to memory.

"During the week it'll be usually an hour to an hour and thirty minutes depending on how much homework I have but on the weekends I always try to do two hours," Jesse said. "I love the challenge of playing the piano. I know there's always something else that I have to learn and also it's a really good outlet for me to express my emotions."

He caught the attention of some 15,000 viewers who saw his piano playing online. He is getting ready for the All-State Piano Showcase in Rochester at the end of the month.

"I'm hoping that one day I can tour when I'm older as a job—I can tour and play concerts in hopefully Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall," Hubbs said.

Of 110 applicants, Jesse was one of 13 musicians chosen to perform. He'll also be the youngest.

"Always reach for the stars if you want to do something always try to pursue your dreams," he said. "That's what I think."