Ridgefield boy learns piano, pens possible holiday classic

Macklin Burke of Ridgefield, recently picked up a piano around his house, and has a holiday classic with over 3,700 organic views on YouTube, and close to 500 views per day.

Macklin Burke of Ridgefield, recently picked up a piano around his house, and has a holiday classic with over 3,700 organic views on YouTube, and close to 500 views per day.

Contributed photo

They call it COVID-times, and only time will tell what the long-term effects will be on all kids around the world. From school closings, to cancelled sports seasons and many other events in between, it is difficult times for any kid growing up in these conditions.

One boy in Ridgefield decided to try something new — the piano. Starting out in the early COVID quarantine lockdown months, Macklin Burke started playing around with a $50 keyboard that was laying around the house. Progressively picking up more notes and chords as time went by, his parents realized lessons were inevitable. But how do you take real lessons during challenging times of a pandemic? You find a great teacher online who has a strong internet connection.

Enter Benjamin Birkbeck of Studio Exchange in Yarmouth, Maine — the hometown of Burke’s dad Jimmy R. Landry who grew up playing in bands in that small town outside of Portland, Maine. Benjamin, a composer, producer, arranger and educator graduated from Berklee College of Music with a major in Music Production and Engineering and minor in Film scoring. Birkbeck has an extensive music portfolio with songs written, produced and arranged for clients such as: Portland Symphony Orchestra, PBS, the US Army, NASA, AT&T, Uno’s Pizzeria, and the Boston Bruins to name just a few.

“Macklin had something special from the beginning from a player’s standpoint. He simply learns and becomes proficient at songs at a tremendously fast rate,” Birkbeck said. “He’s the type of kid I could teach all day if we both had the time,” Birkbeck said.

Most recently, Burke started focusing in on his singing voice while playing piano. He has always been a singer around the house and at a few school talent shows, but not until recently has he discovered his voice. Additionally, he started writing his own songs which has led to this brand new track and video “Christmastime in Small-town USA.”

“This song came together fast,” Burke explains. “I pictured a lot of holiday things in my head and tried to put them all together. We moved here three years ago from a bigger city and I love it here, so I tried to write words that explained my town. I want to get a following on YouTube and then go around to play at hospitals and senior homes next year around the holidays.”

To accompany the song which Burke and his dad recorded and mixed all on their own at home (Mastered by Andy VanDette), he and his family shot footage around their town of Ridgefield, CT and compiled it with him playing the song on his new Yamaha piano. All the video footage was shot on cell phones which some critics are saying may be the magic ingredient to the special recipe that you just sometimes cannot put a finger on. The video has over 3,700 organic views on YouTube since Dec. 18, 2020 and is climbing at a rate close to 500 views per day after being picked up by playlists and tastemakers.