Q&A with Alex Van Bibber, 11-Year-Old Who Played Carnegie Hall

Anthony Dominic

When did you realize your skills weren't like those of other kids?When I was younger, I thought everybody played the piano like this. But I soon realized, when I got into contests and was winning everything, I might be a step up.

Is the attention weird?Kind of. It was definitely weird the first time when people were congratulating me,but I've gotten somewhat used to it. Lots of picture-taking. And people always want my autograph. That's weird, kind of. But it's kind of cool, too.'

When you play, are you thinking or just feeling with your fingers?After you learn the notes, it's [about] getting it so it sounds really beautiful and really appealing to your ears. Sometimes my brain will wander away, and when it comes back, I'll be in this completely different section. And I'll be like, "Whoa, what happened to the last five minutes?" It hasn't really affected my playing much, though. My hands know what to do.

Do you have a favorite composer?It varies depending on what kinds of pieces I play. I kind of like contemporary composers because it's a break from the strict classical and romantic stuff. It's really wild and crazy and fun to play. Probably Bartok. He's a contemporary composer, and he made up all these cool songs.

Tell me about playing at Carnegie Hall.New York is very big and very crowded. A bunch of my family members came, so I had this whole row. I was just a tiny bit nervous, but I was mostly excited because I knew I could do it. I had a lot of fun.

What are you up to when you're not playing?I like to play with Legos and read books. I listen to pop music, stuff on the radio, like Fall Out Boy. I like to play with my brothers and sisters, and sometimes we fight. I'm the oldest. Sometimes that is an advantage, and sometimes that is a disadvantage.

Alex Van Bibber, 11, classical pianist

Little-known facts about Alex:

He first played "Oh! Susanna" when he was 3 years old.

In March, he won a gold medal at the International Young Gifted Musicians Festival at Carnegie Hall.