The school newspaper of Oakville High School


The school newspaper of Oakville High School


The school newspaper of Oakville High School


Purnal’s piano

OHS student uses spare piano to teach himself to play

As you walk through the cinder-blocked first floor of OHS, you might hear a faint, transcendent melody pinging through the hallways. You might find yourself wanting to hear more, to find where this unexpected tune is coming from. And if you followed the sound past Gym A, past Staircase 11, you’d discover one talented OHS student sitting at the upright piano outside of the choir room, producing lovely music whenever he has a spare moment.

Dabbor (DJ) Pernal (12) has never had a piano lesson; he’s not even enrolled in a music class. He is a completely self-taught pianist.

“I really don’t even know the names of the keys—I can’t read sheet music—I just teach myself to remember where the keys are,” Pernal said.

While he does not have any formal music education, Pernal studies his music by ear or by observing advanced piano players’ finger and hand movements through videos.

“I teach myself different songs, especially the difficult ones because then I can have more pride, I guess,” Pernal said.

Like most musicians, Pernal loves to challenge himself musically, so naturally, his favorite songs to learn and play are the most complex, even more so because he is completely self-taught.  

“My favorite song to play has to be ‘Sadness and Sorrow’ from the Naruto show, but I would say to play right now is the one I’m working on, which is ‘Golden Hour’ because I heard how difficult it was, so that’s why I’m working on it,” Pernal said.

Both of Pernal’s favorite songs have been popularized through pop culture; however, that is a pattern he is willing to break.

“The piano has allowed me to get into different music I haven’t been really [given] chances before, so I wouldn’t say there’s a specific type of category of music that I’m targeting; I typically just go with what I hear and what I like and what I want to learn,” Pernal said.

Among further exploration of genres, Purnal also wishes to upgrade his music-making equipment someday; however, he’s only striving to improve his skills as a hobby.

“I’m working on getting myself a piano keyboard right now, but at school is the only time I can practice,” Purnal said. “I want one of them grand pianos in my house, but that’s one day.”

Furthermore, Purnal believes learning to read sheet music will help him expedite the learning process, which can sometimes be frustrating, especially with no help from a teacher or fellow musician.

“Typically, when I just keep pushing through and forcing myself to keep trying again…I still don’t get it. So I basically just stop playing, then throughout my day, I just kind of…It’s kind of weird…but I do the motions—the finger motions—just wherever I’m at.” Purnal said. “Or sometimes I even have dreams about it…then I wake up the next day, and I got it down.”

Playing an instrument can be quite challenging, even when you can read music, so Purnal’s ability to learn primarily by ear alone is incredibly impressive. But his effort to master the piano doesn’t just provide him with an interesting talent or fun fact, it also has provided an enriching and healthy way to deal with emotions, something many teenagers struggle to find.

“It (piano) helps me control my emotions whenever I’m feeling frustrated, kind of like a getaway,” Purnal said. “I used to play basketball a lot. Well once I lost that, this was just something that I went to and it’s been working for me ever since.”

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About the Contributor
Ava Chancellor, Editor-in-Chief
I'm Ava, and I am a senior at OHS and the Managing Editor-in-Chief of The Prowl. In my free time, I like to read (especially historical fiction), go shopping, watch Charmed and work out. I love to travel, go to concerts and try new restaurants with my friends and family. I am planning to go to a university on the East or West Coast and study political science, music and Spanish.

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