Practice. Practice. Practice.

Roderick Carlton Demmings will perform at Carnegie Hall on Thursday for a PBS broadcast. Twelve-year-olds around the country begin cursing his name Friday. Something to do with "raising the bar."

Roderick Carlton Demmings makes me feel like a total loser.

At 12, I was in my middle-school choir in Garland praying that we would forego yet another performance of Billy Joel's "The Longest Time" at some PTA function. And, look, I was nowhere near Carnegie Hall. Didn't even know how to get there.

Can't say the same about Demmings, a 12-year-old seventh grader at St. Mark's School of Texas who will be performing Chopin ("Etude in G-Flat, Op. 10, #5," to be specific), as well as the far jazzier "Harlem Express," in the illustrious New York venue on Thursday. Why? Well, because PBS invited him to play on the network's 13-part series From the Top: Live from Carnegie Hall, which, appropriately, "celebrates kids who show commitment to music and the arts." Impressive? Yeah, sure. Whatever. Yawn.

Well, Demming--described here as "a sensitive young pianist"--doesn't stop there, the little show-off. The musical dynamo also studies the pipe organ, he's placed first at the 2004 and 2006 Debose National Piano Competition, he's studied at Interlochen Center for the Arts in Michigan, and he's been the pianist at the Gospel Music Workshop of America since he was 9. Nine.

Closer to home, if you want to catch him in action on the weekends (and get religion at the same time), he leads music at the Fair Park-area Mount Horeb Missionary Baptist Church. If I recall correctly, my spare time as a 12-year-old was spent fantasizing about Michael Hutchence and Neil Diamond singing at my birthday party. Suddenly, everything just became very clear. --Merritt Martin


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