eCREATIVE MAGAZINE FEBRUARY 2016 - Page 10

“Jazz is my favorite kind of music. I just like the way it sounds.” Photo: Isabel Delfourne F ourteen year-old musician Matthew Whitaker describes creativity as “making something that comes from the heart.” When his fingers fly across a keyboard, there is no doubt about the source of this young man’s gift. With a radiant smile and an infectious energy, he is anxious to share the joy of the music he creates. But Matthew isn’t just playing music. He is the music. When Matthew Whitaker was three years old, his grandfather gave him a Yamaha keyboard. When he heard Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star, he played the song on the keyboard after figuring out on his own which notes to play. What was even more amazing was that Matthew, who was born nearly three months premature and who weighed just under two pounds, was given only a 50 percent chance to live. “We really didn’t know what kind of life he would have,” said May Whitaker, Matthew’s mother. In the first years of his life, Matthew didn’t say a word. He communicated with his mother using tactile sign language, learning his family’s faces by touching them. He also has never been able to see. His parents found out after he was born that he had retinopathy of prematurity (ROP), a disease that can cause blindness in babies born