HOWARD — It was the first-ever trip to the Christian Schools of Ohio Fine Arts Competition conducted recently in Cleveland for students from Temple Christian Academy. But it was one that principal Steve Schultz and seventh-grade student Timothy Noble will never forget. And neither will the judges.
More than 300 students competed in the areas of vocal, instrumental, photography, art, speaking, etc. Nearly 30 Christian schools from the state of Ohio were represented in the contest which is divided into a high school and junior high division.
In the first competition ever, Timothy Noble, son of Kevin and Cynthia Noble, played a piano solo, one of his own arrangements, to “The Old Rugged Cross/When I Survey.” At the conclusion of his performance, which dazzled the crowd, Timothy was given a standing ovation. After seeing the scoring and hearing that Timothy took first place in the junior high division, Schultz said, “In the history of this competition, no student had ever received a perfect score in the piano competition.” Of the four judges scoring, three gave Timothy a perfect score of 100. The fourth judge, whose number was thrown out, gave a score of 200. “I was flabbergasted,” was the comment received by the one judge. “You can’t teach somebody to play like this. It is a gift from the Lord.”
Timothy, who admitted he prefers to play by ear rather than reading music, was required to have a printed copy of his music for the judges. Not having a copy since he composed his piece himself by ear, he went to a music studio at Mount Vernon Nazarene University where a computer program prints out his music as he plays it. But as sophisticated and complex as Timothy’s playing is, the computer couldn’t accurately interpret every single note that was being played. The generated copy was edited as well as it could be, but the judges had to give up in trying to follow along while Timothy was spinning his mastery on the piano keys.
At the conclusion of the second day of competition, a closing assembly takes place where awards are handed out. “I was secretly praying that they would ask Timothy to play at the assembly,” said Schultz, stating how Timothy’s piano playing had really touched his heart. Upon arriving at the assembly, Schultz was approached by the president of the competition who said, “Where is your prodigy?” The invitation was accepted for Timothy to play once again, just as Schultz had prayed.
“This is not to his (Timothy’s) glory,” said Schultz. “I am in awe of what God has done in his life at such a young age; the gift he’s given him. We surely want to be proud of his accomplishments, but not in giving glory ‘to me’ but in giving glory to the Lord. You tread a fine line.” Schultz added that it meant a lot to Timothy that he had so much fun at the competition who said, “It was really enjoyable.”
“That’s what we want to be part of the competition,” said Schultz. “You just do your best for the Lord and enjoy yourself.”
Playing the piano for Timothy began at age 3 when he sat down at the piano and started playing notes from songs he heard at church. “He just seemed so interested in music at a very early age,” said Timothy’s grandmother, Nancy Noble. “He would find good piano music and just listen and listen by the hours,” she said. She explained that his parents at times have to make Timothy go outside and ride his bicycle as he often wishes to be in the house and do nothing but play the piano.
“He’s a very disciplined, hard-working student,” said Schultz of his experience with Timothy at school. “We’re blessed to have him here at Temple Christian Academy.”
When asked about his advanced piano skills, “It’s definitely a God-given gift,” said a humble Timothy. “I do work at it a lot.” His grandmother gives much credit to his instructor, Glee Smith of Glee’s Piano Studio.
Timothy just recently released a second CD of his music, titled “A Vessel Unto Honor.” It is more of the same music as his first release, “Honoring God,” being a collection of hymns and sacred songs. He also has a full schedule of performing on weekends at churches across Ohio and into Indiana with dates booked from now until February 2013. Many of his performances are a fully-scripted program, arranged by his father, Kevin, and including vocal performances by Mount Vernon area residents David Krzoski and Lisa Tharp.
Timothy can be seen playing the piano on his website, timothynobleplayspiano.com.