PLYMOUTH, Minn. - The first thing you notice when Wayzata senior Jeff Zhang settles over the piano keyboard is that there is no sheet music. Then, this nationally recognized piano virtuoso begins to play, and your next conscious thought is something along the line of "Wow!"
"Classical music has been a huge part of my life," says Jeff. "It's just been kind of in the background or in the foreground depending on what I've been doing, but it's always been part of my day-to-day activities."
So much so that Jeff was the winner of the Music teachers National Association Junior Piano Competition in 2010. But success is just a byproduct of Jeff Zhang's exceptionally busy life.
"I really don't know how I manage to get through, I think I just sleep less," says Jeff. "But I don't think so. I sleep fine, actually."
Jeff sleeps soundly because he has a 4-point-plus GPA and registered a perfect score of 36 on his ACT. But believe it or not Jeff Zhang is not about the numbers.
Says Jeff, "What's important is that I learned, first of all the subject material, and second I learned how far I can push myself."
A member of Wayzata's state champion math team, Jeff participates in Knowledge Masters, the Science Olympiad, and he won the state's Brain Bee competition. Somehow, Jeff also managed to find the time to start a Music Listening Club team, all of which Jeff says has only enhanced his time at Wayzata.
"I have definitely made a lot of friendships, made a lot of bonds with teachers and students alike," says Jeff. "So yeah high school has been great."
Jeff will continue to play piano in college and while he has more than a passing interest in neuro-science he's careful not to put a limit on what the future may hold.
Says Jeff, "There's going to be a lot of growth, there's going to be a lot of maturing going on, and I want to be able to keep my options open."