Aug. 24, 2012 at 10:26 AM ET
The viral video of a young (very young) band covering Led Zeppelin's classic "Rock and Roll" is entertaining all the way around, but your attention is immediately drawn to the drummer. Ethan Ventresca, 5, leads the crew of his schoolmates and teachers, hitting every beat nearly perfectly with a crash and slam, never losing his enthusiasm or rhythm.
Ventresca is performing with his band Jester, a group arranged through the School of Rock in Rocky River, Ohio. His dad Mike put the video on YouTube Aug. 19 and it's been garnering thousands of hits every since. According to Mike, Ethan was just two when it became apparent he was graced with the gift of perfect pitch.
“I was pouring different amounts of water into glasses and dinging them, and he could tell you the exact note,” Mike tells NBC News. “You can hit a glass, hit whatever. If there’s a tone there, he can pick it out.”
After initially learning notes while his dad played guitar, Ethan began matching those sounds to colors, and later became so adept he could hear any sound without a point of reference, and identify it. As a musician, the young rocker gravitated towards the drums, receiving his first official kit from Santa Claus at the age of 3. He’s currently working off set number three, and, along with weekly private lessons at the music school, bangs away two to three hours a day at home.
When he’s not rocking out, he’s listening to the likes of The Beatles, Aerosmith, and Jason Mraz.
“He’s never wanted toys, he only wants musical instruments,” Mike points out. “Whereas most parents are out buying “Star Wars” games, he wants tubas, and mandolins, and banjos.”
Ethan is the youngest player in his group at the School of Rock, but age appears to make little difference in the dynamic. His teacher, Dan Price, describes his abilities as “rare,” noting Ethan was able to master “Rock and Roll” in a few months.
“He’s a sponge, he picks up just about everything I throw at him,” observes Price. “I don’t think I’ve ever encountered a 5-year-old so sharp and focused. He really loves the instrument, and is really dedicated.”
While the famous Zeppelin jam may not be the most complicated of all drum parts, Price describes it as “iconic,” and a “rite of passage” for drummers.
“The intro specifically is difficult,” he adds. “I’ve talked to many musicians my age, and they can never figure out the timing.”
Along with his grade school studies and rock n’ roll lessons, Ethan will be joining the local Cleveland band Shout for a live gig coming up in September, where he’ll perform Stevie Wonder’s “Superstition” and Journey’s “Any Way You Want It.” But despite his rising profile, Mike claims his son shows no sign of superstar egotism just yet.
Mike comments, “My biggest concern has been that he’s young, and I wondered how he would get along with the other kids, but I think he sits there in his own world.”