TAMPA (fOX 13) - In a home in Westchase, toys scatter the rooms and a 6-year-old named Jacob Pham can tell you all about them. He talks Hot Wheels, LEGO, and basketballs, but he also talks about a guitar, ukulele, saxophone, and drums -- all musical instruments he can play, and play well.
"I would say that 50 percent of his downtime is musical," Jacob's mother, Ngoc Pham said.
The biggest instrument sits in a nearby office -- the family's piano.
"I like how it sounds," Jacob Pham said. "I like the beat."
When Jacob plays, it does not sound like a 6-year-old is hitting the keys. He's also not reading notes.
"When he gets on the stage, he's just in a zone," Ngoc said.
Jacob plays at a level years above his age, and he's been doing so for more than a year and a half now.
His older sister, Emma plays the piano, so Jacob has been around the instrument his whole life. He would first mimic his sister, then he could copy notes, then chords, then verses, and then a whole song.
"The 'wow' moment was, one day I was listening to music. I said, 'Oh listen to this. This is one of mama's favorite songs,' and it was Celine Dion's 'My Heart Will Go On.' I played it three times. We went to dinner, and then he said 'Mom, are we going to get home soon because I hear the music in my head,'" Ngoc recalled.
The family decided that Jacob should take lessons. He first learned under concert pianist Sylvanna Fraga and is now under the tutelage of Jae Jung, who attended the Julliard School.
They've both confirmed that Jacob is advanced for his age. More proof came this month at a state music competition, where Jacob was competing against kids from 8 to 12 years old.
On top of the family piano, a photo of Jacob's grandfather stands out. He passed away right before Jacob was born. He taught himself how to play seven instruments. Jacob wants to match and even surpass that number.
"It just keeps the memory of grandpa with us," Ngoc Pham said.
She has no doubt that Jacob's musical talent came from his grandpa.
Jacob's mother and father are careful not to push music too hard. They want him to be a 6-year-old. He rides a bike outside and plays basketball and baseball.
He has one 50-minute a lesson a week and practices 10 to 20 minutes a day. Sometimes he practices longer, and sometimes he's drawn back to the piano on his own.
"Right when he hears the piano play, he'll drop whatever he's doing and come in here," Ngoc added.