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9-year-old pianist plays on stage following open heart surgery last year

David Berlanga played Saturday at TAMUCC
David Berlanga young pianist.jpg
Posted at 4:22 PM, Mar 29, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-29 18:47:35-04

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Playing piano came to David Berlanga at a young age.

“He was so cute. When he was, I think, 2-years-old, he got on the piano and started singing, ‘happy birthday to you,’ and I thought this kid’s a natural,” said Mary Helen Berlanga, David’s grandmother. “A little after that, my daughter got him into lessons, and after a while, he got the hang of it. He’s played songs at Christmas, he’s played holiday music, different songs.”

David started taking piano lessons when he was five.

“It was hard at first, but then it became very easy,” he said.

Now nine, David says he loves playing the piano.

“You get to play music, some of your favorites maybe, and you get to play them and it’s fun,” he said.

On Saturday, he played on stage at the Performing Arts Center on Texas A&M - Corpus Christi’s campus for Piano Celebration Week. It’s not the first time he’s performed on stage, but he was still nervous as he walked on stage.

“It was very exciting, and I was really nervous, because I was going on a big stage, and I was sort of scared,” he said.

But once he sat down, the nerves went away.

“I was focused on playing,” he said.

David gets to perform around once a year, and this was his first performance on stage since he received open heart surgery late last year.

“It was really tough on all of us,” Mary Helen said. “He couldn’t go to school for a certain number of weeks, and even when he could, he still couldn’t carry a backpack or lift anything heavy, that was a real struggle.”

David has Tetralogy of Fallot, a heart condition that causes issues with blood flow to the body. Last year’s surgery was the second he had in his young life.

“It was not that fun,” David said. “But, at least I got Robux, so that was pretty good.”

Despite the fact that he couldn’t go to school or lift anything heavy, he was able to play piano about one week after returning home from the hospital.

“That was something he could do, because he could keep his hands at a certain level,” Mary Helen said. “I think it cheered him up, I think it made him feel happy.”

Mary Helen said he can now play sports, like his favorite basketball, after his surgery, and has made a full recovery.

David said his favorite songs to play on piano are the opening them of Star Wars and the Jurassic Park theme.

David said in the future, he would like to play piano professionally.