A 13-year-old musical prodigy from Erdington who stunned commuters at Birmingham’s Grand Central with his piano skills has become a lockdown YouTube star thanks to his regular uplifting posts.
Alfie Bennett, from Erdington, became a social media sensation after he was filmed playing Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody at Grand Central last September, with the video going viral and getting hundreds of thousands of views.
And the talented teenager, who has autism, hasn’t allowed lockdown to silence his musical ambitions and has launched his own YouTube channel, posting performances every few days that have been getting rave reviews.
“Playing music just makes me feel really good,” Alfie explained, “and it’s very rewarding when I post a song on YouTube and people say they like it.
“It has helped me deal with lockdown because it has kept me occupied. I need something creative to do and the videos I have been posting have been getting nice, positive, comments.”
“I always feel relaxed and relieved when I’m playing piano,” added Alfie, who attends John Willmott School in Sutton Coldfield.
Mum Kay, 32, said she was ‘incredibly proud’ of Alfie.
“Alfie started to learn the piano when he was nine, and he’s completely self-taught,” she said. “It came out of the blue, because none of us in the family are musical.
“It began when he asked for a keyboard for his birthday, so we bought him one because we thought it would be good for him. We just left him to it.
“Then, a couple of weeks later, we heard music coming from upstairs – it was Fur Elise by Beethoven – and we assumed it was the ‘demo’ playing on the keyboard, but it was Alfie! We were amazed, and he’s just gone on from there.”
Alfie was due to perform in the national contest Autism’s Got Talent in London this month, but the event was cancelled because of the pandemic. He has also missed out on concerts by Queen, Elton John and Green Day that he had tickets for.
But he has made up for it with online performances of his own – including special songs for his sisters Tayla, 10 and Teddie, who is three.
“Tayla is a footballer, and is a mad Villa fan, so Alfie uploaded a version of ‘Sweet Caroline’ for her,” Kay explained, “and for Teddie, who loves Toy Story, he learned ‘You’ve Got A Friends In Me’ as a surprise.”
Alfie is hoping to study music at John Willmott, but is also learning outside of school and, at the age of 13, is just about to take his music Grade 5 piano, which is equivalent to a GCSE.
As well as mastering works by the likes of Beethoven on keyboards he rocks out on guitar, inspired by the heavy sounds of his favourite bands Slipknot, Megadeth and Metallica.
Tracey Peters, headteacher at John Willmott – which is part of the respected Arthur Terry Learning Partnership – said she was impressed that Alfie had found a way to use his talents.
She said: “It is wonderful to see that Alfie, like many students, is making the most of his extended time at home to work on such a creative project and expanding his repertoire. We are enjoying sharing Alfie’s music on the school YouTube channel for everyone to appreciate.”
You can check out Alfie’s lockdown performances at his YouTube Channel, ‘Alfie Bennett’s music’.