Music Teacher's Helper Blog

America’s Got Talent

A while ago I wrote a blog post about teaching a very special student, Kodi.

Well, it is official – he is going to be on the season premier of America’s Got Talent!! This is the 14th season of the hit show, premiering on Tuesday May 28, 8/7c.

Kodi came to my studio in 2016. I did not have any experience teaching a blind student, and I had very little experience teaching students on the autism spectrum. Kodi is what many may describe as nonverbal. His spoken communication is very limited, but his ability to memorize is absolutely out of this world. He has been declared  a savant – musical genius, and is literally a human jukebox. Whatever song he has not heard of before, he can sing and play back after hearing it just once, and it will stay in his memory!

It still amazes me that I was given the opportunity to work with him. His piano skills have grown from basic chord progressions, to advanced literature such as Mozart Sonatas, Schubert Impromptus, Chopin’s Waltzes, Preludes, Fantaisie Impromptu, and Rachmaninov Preludes. He has performed twice at Carnegie Hall in New York City, as winners of the Golden Classical International Music Competition.

Classical piano is such a specialized field, one that requires extremely high levels of accuracy, polish and detail, unbelievable amount of repetitive work, and then ultimately subjective to individual styles of interpretation. Kodi’s journey has not been without challenges, as detailed in my previous post, but he has made everything he learns his own. It all becomes part of the unique style that is Kodi Lee.

I know Kodi has incredible vocal coaches, who must be so proud. Kodi is proof that we as teachers may just never know what lessons mean to our students, and where they may take them. I am reminded once again to treasure each student and every lesson we have together.

So tomorrow night, tune in and be amazed, as Kodi sings and accompanies himself on the piano, in the season premier of America’s Got Talent. He is going to change the world!

About the Author

Yiyi Ku
Yiyi Ku is a pianist and teacher. Born in Taiwan, she grew up in New Zealand and obtained her Master of Music degree with Distinction in Composition and Piano Performance from the University of Canterbury. Yiyi also holds a Licentiate in Piano Performance from the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music. She is a Nationally Certified Teacher of Music in Piano from Music Teachers National As... [Read more]

7 Comments

  1. Aida Luna Bacas

    Agreat music teacher indeed. I thank God for showering gifts and talents to Yiyi and Kodi and for them to share unselfishly, generously to the world.

    A

  2. Robin Steinweg

    Yiyi, I watched the episode the other night–and I wouldn’t have, if you hadn’t written this post. I sat absolutely stunned by the pouring out of his heart in his singing and playing. How proud you must be of him! His playing supported and enhanced, but left room for his singing. I’ve never heard anything like it. I was in tears by the time he finished.

    Thank you for sharing about Kodi. I think the world may look at giftedness in a new way after this. I hope autism will be seen not as something lacking in a person, but simply as something unique. Possibly a gift in itself, in some ways. Remarkable!

  3. Yiyi Ku

    Thank you Aida and Robin! Please continue to support Kodi!

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  6. Casey Roon

    Kind of a strange request but I loved Kodi Lee’s audition on AGT but more than that, I love this simplified arrangement of simple chord progressions as the version he played in the audition. I am looking for THIS ARRANGEMENT! It isn’t the Leon Russell version, which is it? I am in a race to quickly memorize this piece, could you help me to send me to the right arrangement? Please?

  7. Yiyi

    Casey: Kodi played his own arrangement:) When the show is over, we will share/publish his version. Stay tuned!

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