By Maddy Vitale
Scott Nuss couldn’t believe it when students converged on him asking for his autograph after he performed a concert.
“I was like, ‘You want my autograph? I’m just a kid,’” Nuss explained, while sitting at his Yamaha piano in his West Avenue house in Ocean City on Friday afternoon.
That concert was on April 6, 2017, at Perry Hall High School in Maryland, where the 13-year-old pianist, complete with a neck-mounted harmonica, performed renditions of Billy Joel’s “Piano Man,” “My Life,” and “New York State of Mind,” to name a few.
“I like the stage. I was really nervous, and I got on stage and waved,” Scott said. “The second I started playing I wasn’t nervous at all because I know the songs.”
A few months later, the prodigy, his parents Jill and Brad Nuss, and older brother Grant, moved from Maryland to their vacation home in Ocean City, because they loved it here so much.
Scott, an eighth-grade student at the Intermediate School, wrote a song about his love for Ocean City. He hopes the city will make it the town’s official theme song. He plans on playing it to a crowd for the first time at 7 p.m. Jan. 18 at the Ocean City Free Public Library. He has invited Mayor Jay Gillian and Ocean City School Superintendent Kathleen Taylor.
“I love Ocean City. We have been coming here ever since we were kids,” Scott said. “We always came here every summer. I wrote the song because I want people to know how great Ocean City is.”
Scott, who is known mostly for his Billy Joel music, also plays Elton John, the Beatles and classical music. And despite barely being a teenager, he said he doesn’t like new music or rap. “I like the older songs because they had piano in them. I just like the style better.”
He sat down at his piano Friday afternoon and transformed from a teen to a concert pianist as he tapped on the keys and simultaneously played the harmonica while performing one of his favorites, “Piano Man.” Then he stopped and said, “It’s long. I could still play if you want.”
The music filled the room.
But his extraordinary talents branch out into other areas. His generosity and kindness are reflected in his fundraising efforts for St. Jude’s Research Hospital. He and his instructor, Daniel Weiser, raised thousands of dollars that went to helping children with cancer, during the Perry Hall High School benefit concert. Scott hopes to do the same in a concert at Ocean City High School in September.
“Scott was watching TV with me and the St. Jude commercials were coming on,” Jill Nuss said. “He felt so sad for the children with cancer.”
Nuss said she is Scott’s biggest fan, but she sometimes has to nudge him to perform.
But when it comes time for a performance, Nuss said she tries not to bother Scott too much, “Sometimes I’m like, ‘Did you practice enough?’ He always does. Everything always turns out great.”
Not only is Nuss a musician, composer and a singer, but he is also a straight “A” student. His favorite class? “It was science but now it is social studies,” he said.
He somehow manages time for homework in between his daily 45-minute to an hour-long piano practice, in which he does a mix of his favorite Billy Joel ballads to classical tunes. He has a keen memory, and only has to read a piece of sheet music a couple of times before he has it down.
It all began when he was just four. His older brother, Grant, took some piano lessons but lost interest. Scott began taking piano lessons with classical training, then later moved into more contemporary music as his musical tastes developed.
The rest is history.
And the big question of what he wants to do when he grows up included, of course, playing the piano. “I want to keep playing and writing more songs. Maybe I will be a video production person where I could do videos for companies and make a song,” Scott said.
But his ultimate dream would be for his idol, Billy Joel, to show up for one of his concerts.
He grinned and said, “It will happen someday.”