9-year-old pianist competes for national award

A 9-year-old from Farmers Branch is being honored this weekend for his amazing musical talent and for overcoming some challenges in his life.

Dylan James Shaw said he fell in love with the piano when he was 3. He’s been taking lessons from his grandmother ever since and now writes his own songs.

“That was called My Joy Song,” he told FOX 4’s Shannon Murray.

Dylan James’ love of music for music may have been passed down through the generations. His mother is also a musician. But unlike his family members, he has the rare gift of playing by ear.

“I was in the Westin Hotel at Austin and the bell was an F. And I said, ‘That’s an F!’ I just heard it by ear,” he said.

Janice Winburn said her grandson does it all the time. He hears something and is able to determine what note it is.

Music it seems is a way for him to express himself. He has Asperger’s, a form of high-functioning autism that affects social and communication skills. It’s also one of the reasons his talent comes so naturally.

“He never forgets anything and he picks it up. Like I can show him a song I want him to practice. I’ll play it one time and then he can play it,” Winburn said.

“So we just fostered it, kept working with it, kept jamming and loving music. It flourished and now he’s winning state awards,” said Christine Winburn, Dylan James’ mom.

That song he wrote, “My Joy Song” won the overall award of excellence from the Texas Parent Teacher Association. Dylan James will receive the award this weekend. Then he will be one of 30 students to compete on the national level.

It’s an award that would make any parent proud. But for this family, it has a special meeting.

“You know it’s really cool for a little guy to have some blues,” his mom said.

Blues for Dylan James means happiness.

“When I play it, it makes me smile and have joy,” he said.