Brett Claytor's agile fingers can move across the black and white keys with grace and ease.
Brett Claytor's agile fingers can move across the black-and-white keys with grace and ease. At a very young age, this accomplished pianist learned to play by listening to the sounds and by reading an instrument's patterns rather than notes.
When he was 1 year old, Claytor was diagnosed with retinal cancer that left him legally blind. By age 3, he started dinking around on his parents' upright piano and was enrolled in piano lessons by age 6. He drifted in and out of music lesson for many years but resumed them seriously when he was 11. Four years later, his piano teacher told Claytor there was nothing left to teach him.
Claytor, 48, a Grants Pass resident, has been playing professionally for more than 35 years. He will be performing a "Symphony of One" at 7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 30, at the Applegate Lodge, 15100 Oregon 238, Applegate.
Claytor said he first learned the patterns of the keys. For example, he knows that to the left of two black keys will be a C note."I figured as long as I could hear, there was hope, and I recognized there was a pattern," he said.
"I had to teach my fingers where they needed to go. That was the hard part."
Claytor's musical abilities are not limited to the piano, he also sings and plays the guitar, bass and drums.
In preparation for his performance at the Applegate Lodge, Claytor said he turned his bedroom into a rehearsal area and practiced all summer. His concert will include a diverse compilation of songs by Pink Floyd, The Moody Blues, Emerson, Lake & Palmer, a selection of classical music by Beethoven and Chopin and some of the songs he's written. He will play a piano and use sounds from four keyboards to imitate the instruments of an orchestra, but he does not use any recordings.
Claytor has released four albums, including "Watching Over Denver," "Skipping Home," "Beyond the Sun" and "Changing." He is in the process of releasing his fifth, "Jesus Is Changing My Life," which features several gospel songs.
Claytor said he couldn't pin his music to one genre. Instead, his songs vary from rock and blues to country and jazz.
Claytor's band, Blind and Crazy, which includes guitarist Junior Delvelle and drummer Danny Keys, who joined the band last year, has played throughout Southern Oregon, Washington and Colorado for about 30 years. Claytor also played in the Applegate Lodge house band, Applegation, which included Duke Davis, the lodge's music director and co-owner, Mikey Stevens and Michael Forney. The house band played every Wednesday and Sunday (in the summer) for the past 10 years until the lodge decided to bring in other bands in September 2008.
Admission to Claytor's "Symphony of One" is $10. Call 761-9353.