Music is his first language

When he was younger, Nicholas Becker never talked much. He spoke when spoken to, but if he had something to say, Nicholas would choose to use the musical notes A-G instead of the alphabet letters A-Z.

Nicholas, sophomore, has been enrolled in speech therapy since kindergarten because of his struggle with a stutter. Nicholas said spoken communication has always been more difficult for him than for most people.

“I don’t know how [my stutter] developed, but without it, I would have lost my focus in music,” Nicholas said. “Music allows me to express myself when words can’t. When I was younger, it was difficult to speak, but the music just came naturally.”

Becker is capable of playing 12 musical instruments including violin, piano and guitar, but has never had a music lesson. Because all of his talent was developed independently, he describes his abilities as a gift from God.

“Music is a first language for me, in a way,” Nicholas said. “I can express how I feel through the music better than I can with words. I like to hide behind the instruments.”

Originally from California, Becker attended eight schools before enrolling at KHS, where he plans to continue attending until graduation. Becker selected KHS for its music program, specifically the orchestra, and hopes to attend The Juilliard School in New York City for music.

Toni Saputo, a bassist in the KHS orchestra and senior, met Becker through the school’s music program.

“He’s very talented, especially for being at such a young age,” Saputo said. “He was new and I wanted to welcome him. I learned he’s a really good violinist, a tight instrumentalist and is really personable. I didn’t even notice he had a stutter.”

Today, after years of speech therapy, Nicholas’s speech has significantly improved from when he was younger. But despite years of work, his stutter still has an impact on his life.

“It has been very hard for Nicholas [to have the stutter],” Trina Becker, Nicholas’ mother, said. “He wants us to order his food at restaurants for him, and if we tell him he has to do it himself, he won’t eat.”

But for any setbacks the stutter may have caused Nicholas, it has sharpened and refined his musicianship. His mother said she is very proud of Nicholas for not allowing his stutter to inhibit him.

“To watch him discover his love for music has been humbling for me,” Trina said. “When he would speak, people looked at him almost like he had some sort of handicap. Then people respond to him playing his music. They stop us and say they can’t believe he hasn’t had private lessons. He has grown and matured so much through the instruments, it makes me cry.”