As someone who was diagnosed autistic at 3 and a half years old, I struggled a great deal like many of us on the spectrum have. Growing up, I felt like I didn’t have many strengths. I always needed extra help in school, I struggled to get along with many of my peers, and I also would get distracted easily because of sensory issues.
However, I discovered one hidden talent when I was 12 that flashed like a neon sign for my family and me. This hidden talent is perfect pitch, which, according to Classic FM, is the ability for someone to identify, play, or sing a note right away when they hear one.
Discovering My Ability
When I was five (late 1990s), listening to tunes at home and in my parents’ cars, I noticed that music has distinct sounds that seemed as distinguishable as colors (keys and notes of music). However, I thought other people were also able to notice these differences for many years.
A couple of years after I started to take piano lessons at almost 10 (2003) and around the same time my elementary music class moved from recorders to band instruments (2005), I learned what the notes and keys sound like as my general music knowledge improved. That favorite upbeat major key I heard seven years prior? I grasped that it is Db Major!
In late 2005, my parents proudly noted this when they noticed I could play well without having to read music. I could even play a song by heart that no one previously taught me.
They were also amazed at my ability to know what key a song is in and how well I could identify notes and chords.
Eventually, my interest in school music classes grew enough that my grades steadily improved.
From the mid to late 2000s, I also frequently performed mini recitals at family and friend get-togethers at home or even others’ houses if they had a piano or keyboard for me to play with.
Fast forward to 2008, I went to McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario for a test on perfect pitch. About six months later, I was absent from school one day,and the woman who administered the test called my mother to say I have absolute perfect pitch.
I don’t recall celebrating this news in a big way, but it helped me feel better on a day off school.
My Piano Series: What I Play
I played piano on a more on-and-off basis for at least a decade, but around two months after the COVID-19 pandemic started, I decided to start my piano series on social media.
My series admittedly started slow, and I wasn’t posting piano covers as often as I do now, but now I post nine shortened piano covers a month.
I play mainstream music, usually ranging from The Beatles era to today’s music. I also focus on a variety of genres.
I don’t play rap or hip-hop as often, not only because it’s not as suited for piano to me, but because song notes and rapping don’t always go well together. I might throw the very occasional rap or hip-hop song in the mix if I feel it goes well with piano, though.
My Piano Series: How I Construct the Covers
My piano skills and endurance aren’t necessarily way above average despite my perfect pitch ability. Also, people on social media may not always have four minutes of their time to listen to me play a piano solo when deep down, they want to scroll through their feeds to see what other people on social media are up to or they simply do not have the time.
When I considered these two factors, I will usually play the first minute (or in some cases, two minutes) of a song. To my best ability, I include the song’s most important elements such as the intro, verse, and especially the chorus.
Depending on the song’s difficulty, these covers can take anywhere from an hour to several hours for me to prepare. Therefore, regardless of employment status or how many bigger priorities I have, I always find time to prepare.
Applying Perfect Pitch to My Piano Series
I’ll listen to a song on YouTube that I want to play and take note of the chords and notes, as well as use piano tutorials and Ultimate Guitar chords for guidance, just to make sure everything is verified for as accurate as possible a cover.
Some covers online may not always be accurate, and therefore, I try to pay close attention to the songs several times to understand what notes I need to play.
For example, an online piano tutorial on YouTube may show a note sequence as something like this:
I might hear (based on the lyrics):
When I construct my own interpretation of a song, it’s important that I pick up on the subtle differences between the online tutorials and what the original audio version of a song plays.
Some songs, I’ve done a better job with this than others, but even with perfect pitch, it does take practice.
Are Some Keys Easier to Play Than Others?
Many of us can agree that C Major is the easiest key to play on piano because there are no sharp or flat notes other than a blues situation. However, I found many of the more complex keys, such as F# Major, Db Major, Eb Major or Ab Major not too hard to play with just as long as I expose to them often.
Overall, perfect pitch is a fun tool for many music-related situations. Some people who have it may not like it much or embrace it; others may be happy without or with it, and that’s okay. We’re all unique, with many abilities and hidden talents that make us who we are.
I struggle with lots of things, but I am happy that perfect pitch has led to my big interest in listening to and playing music.
For those who are interested, feel free to check my piano series on my Instagram.
Cory Morrison is a 30-year-old and long-time Greater Toronto Area resident. He is a college journalism graduate who has intense interests in writing,
weather, music, motivational quotes and autism advocacy.
His website and social media profiles are listed below:
My website: www.asdtoday.com