- Gideon TwoCrow was out drinking with friends when the police caught
him. Only two weeks after he finished his six-month probation for
underage drinking, he was charged a second time and put on probation
for another year.
Durango native and member of the Southern Ute Indian Tribe, TwoCrow,
16, never knew his father. He and his five brothers and sisters
were raised by his mother, Jacqueline Frost, who supported her family
by building houses.
grew up in a rough family," he said. "My uncle was an
alcoholic and stuff. It's been tough. Family members passed on.
My brother was sent off to a foster home at 6 and my sister at 9
or 10. I started messing up as I got older. I hung with the wrong
kids. We would drink and get caught by the law and have to go to
court. I started drinking at 14."
was on the wrong road. But everything started to change last September
when TwoCrow discovered piano. Now, he plays for hours each week,
earns better marks in school and wants to attend the Julliard School
began when TwoCrow's mother asked him what he wanted to do when
he grew up. Unprepared for the question, instinctively the teenager
remembered his love for Beethoven's "Moonlight Sonata,"
music that reached him through its combination of mourning and happiness.
said I didn't know about when I grew up, but I wanted to play the
piano now," TwoCrow said.
mom bought me a keyboard and my sister bought me the two pieces
of music I asked for," he said. "I wanted 'Moonlight Sonata'
and 'Für Elise,' both by Beethoven."
has mastered both songs his sister gave him, playing from memory,
and is working on a third, a song from Bach's "Italian Concerto
in F Major."
Searle, who teaches music at Ignacio High School, remembers when
he first saw TwoCrow's new determination:
came up to me in September and said he wanted to play 'Moonlight
Sonata.' I asked him if he could read music and he said 'no.' I
asked if he knew anything about the piano and he said 'no.' I explained
it all as best I could.
went home and worked. He asks me questions and then goes home and
works. He's phenomenal. He learned on the 'Moonlight Sonata.' Any
teacher can tell you it's a difficult piece. There are some crazy
things going on in that piece. And it's highly unusual for any teenager
to have this much drive for anything."
said TwoCrow is the quickest learner he's had, but not necessarily
the best player.
TwoCrow played "Moonlight Sonata" for the Ignacio School
Board earlier this month, Searle said that he'd been working on
that piece for 10 years and never managed to bring the emotion to
it that TwoCrow does.
precisely that emotion that TwoCrow cares about most.
best thing when you play, instead of just playing, you can bring
in your emotion and just play from what you are on the inside,"
he said. "It calms me down and it can sometimes make me feel
like I'm in a dream, kind of."
to go to the famous Julliard School of Music in New York, a place
alien to Ignacio's farming, ranching and energy-producing culture.
think he could have a shot at Julliard," Searle said. "It'll
take work and understanding, but he's shown me he can do the work.
It's unusual for any teenager to show determination like that. I
don't think Gideon's worked this hard at anything in his life. It's
given him focus."
said he goes home after school and practices three to five hours
or longer most days. The piano seems always to have been the instrument
for him. Searle doesn't remember TwoCrow ever asking him about another
I was little I remember listening to classical piano on the radio,"
TwoCrow said. "Mom was going through the channels. I didn't
ask her to go back to it or anything but I had a wonderful memory
(of those songs)."
the notes and phrases and symbols and signs is the hardest part
of playing, TwoCrow believes. "Keeping the beat is tough,"
he said. "You can't tap you foot or keep the rhythm and play
the notes at the same time."
works with Searle almost every day at school, because TwoCrow also
sings bass in the choir that Searle teaches. At 6-foot-4-inches,
TwoCrow is also center on the basketball team. His height is an
asset for more than just basketball. He can span an octave and a
quarter with his long fingers.
usually ask Mr. Searle for help with my playing whenever I see him,"
TwoCrow said. "Singing in the choir is not as satisfying as
playing. Mr. Searle said if I learned the choir pieces I can play
for them, but I want to play the music I like."
on music is spilling into the rest of TwoCrow's life.
has helped a lot. I have time to go out with my friends but I'd
rather do what I like to do," he said.
the last five months he's been living with his cousin Sandra Ryder
in Ignacio where he rides her horses and plays chess with his friends
and on a computer. "Playing chess helps me think and gets my
mind off stress."
mother now lives by herself and works for the tribe, helping elders.
His sister, Mieska TwoCrow, works for the tribe as well. His brother
Andrew TwoCrow is in Iraq with the Marines.
High School counselor Steve Brown is impressed with the decisions
TwoCrow has made on how to change his life.
got some inner things going on," Brown said. "He's finally
found his stride. He didn't give up looking for it. He's a good
kid and a talented one."
Benjamin Searle, 16, who sings and plays the saxophone at Ignacio
High School and is the son of Howard Searle, has seen the change
awesome," Benjamin Searle said. "He picked up the 'Moonlight
Sonata' and it didn't take him long. He memorized it and all. He's
quiet and pretty shy. But he'll just smile and start to talk if
you do. He's not a backstabber. He's someone you could trust.
more into his school work than he was before he played," Searle
said. "He tries harder at what he does. He's a completely different
person than he was. He's really straightened up. It's like a dream
come true kinda thing