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Musical Ambitions

Early Instruments

When Stevie was six years old, he received a gift that would change his life. That year, the Detroit Lions Club, a community organization, presented Stevie with a real drum kit as a Christmas gift. He practiced the drums every day. He would play his harmonica and then play the drums. He began to play parts of songs that he remembered from listening to the radio. Stevie played the beats of the songs on the drums and the melodies on the harmonica. He soon mastered both instruments. This was quite an accomplishment for a six-year-old boy. In fact, for a six-year-old blind boy, Stevie was somewhat of a sensation around the front porches of the neighborhood. People asked him to play his harmonica as they sang lyrics. Stevie played the drums while others played guitar or a real, full-size harmonica. Music was becoming everything to Stevie, outside of his family and learning in school.

All the neighbors admired Stevie's musical talents. One woman from the neighborhood owned a piano. When she moved away, she decided to give the piano to Stevie. “I kept asking,” Stevie remembered, “‘When they gonna bring the piano over, Mamma?’ I never realized how important that was going to be to me.”

Stevie ran his hands all over the piano on the day it arrived. He felt the top, sides, and legs. He studied the wood with his hands, measuring the instrument in his mind. He touched the foot petals and felt they were metal. He ran his hands over the keys and found that some were raised. He asked his mother to let him feel the strings. Stevie ran his hands up and down the metal strings and over the hammers. Everything felt good to him.

Additional topics

Musician BiographiesStevie WonderMusical Ambitions - Radio Days, Early Instruments, Wonderful Music, A Detroit Record