By Priyangwada Perera Ceylon Today Features
Hydrogen, Helium, Lithium, Beryllium, Boron, Carbon, Nitrogen, Oxygen, Fluorine…I kept muttering to myself that too using the song Hi, Hello, Little, Benny and the many other songs that we learnt to help us remember the elements.
Do I still remember the Periodic Table? I kept racking my brains before I spoke with 10-year-old Methu Menuwara: a World Record holder for being the youngest person to recite the Periodic Table of Elements, a title bestowed on him by Record Setter, when he recited all 118 elements at just five years of age.
Reciting the Periodic Table by heart when you are barely anything more than a baby, is indeed a massive feat. Even at the age of four, Methu who was born on 4 July 2011, in London could do it, although he didn’t set the record until a year later on the 27 July 2016.
He didn’t just parrot it. He studied and categorised it. According to his father, Methu wondered why Silver is Ag instead of Sv. That was the kind of understanding and interest little Methu showed in this fascinating table. It is no wonder that he learnt it by heart.
But only those who know Methu can vouch for his keen interest and understanding that went hand in hand with this recitation. It was extremely interesting to speak to the little genius. There was no trace of pride, not a trace of arrogance. A genius alright but a very affectionate child he is. The combination of music and science going together is very rare. Why does he like Science, I had to ask Methu. He drew a strange comparison between the two subjects. “Science is creative and it is creativity,” said Methu.
That is the obvious truth about science which I had forever forgotten. “I love science because I love creativity. Science is the fascinating phenomenon when different things go together,” Methu replied with wisdom beyond his years. Methu is a never-ending surprise. “I want to become an astronaut,” he said cheerfully.
It indeed was news to hear that he has made his own computer game, right from the scratch. Methu loves English and he is a part of Young Writers U.K. Ask him what his favourite subjects are, “Maths, History and Geography,” he would tell you and you would start wondering how broad the range of a genius he is.
“Actually, I like all the other subjects in different ways,” he said on a second thought. “Because, all are related to each other,” he said as if he has done one deep analysis on all subjects. But surprises had only started. There were plenty more to come. Methu is the eldest child of Dr. Upeksha and Eranda Menuwara and has three siblings, Akein six years old, Sedas four and two-year-old Ahansa.
Living in England, so far, the sky seems to be the only limit for him. Adding onto the list of accomplishments at this tender age, he has already done his ABRSM’s Grade 5 in Piano.
Methu started playing the piano at the age of six which he self-taught by watching YouTube before getting professional guidance. As a student of the same private school in London as British royals, Princes William and Prince Harry, he has even done theory exams. By now, he has already cleared the piano exams both theory and practical equivalent to the Ordinary Level Exam.
Methu also plays the violin in his school’s String Orchestra. Playing both piano and violin, he is hoping to start learning Viola in September. That’s not all, he is also learning the Tabla. To top it off, Methu also enjoys singing and is a member of the school choir. With the lockdown, he started experimenting and working on his own music.
If his track record is anything to go by, we can expect him to soon compose his own music. According to Methu’s mother, Methu was exposed to music very early in life. “We used to play classical music at home even when he was an infant. Mozart, Bach, Beethoven were often played. Apart from that, Pandit Amaradeva’s songs and Sunil Shantha’s songs were also played. By the time Methu was three or four years old, he was exposed to all kinds of music.
He even sang Sinhala songs. Walakulin Besa was one of his favourites.” Methu’s father said that by the time Methu was six years old, he started playing the piano. “Within three years, he completed five Grades of music exams. He continued with his singing and for a project in his school, Methu also did his own song called Daddy.”
The Director of Methu’s school appreciates Methu’s brilliance and wants him to audition for the very prestigious Royal College of Music and Drama or Royal Academy of Music, hopefully on full scholarship. Methu’s love and attachment with the piano is such that he self taught himself to play Beethovan’s Für Elise and Mozart’s Symphony No.40 in G minor. It is during the lockdown Methu came up with the idea of doing his own song and approached his parents.
It resulted in Methu’s soon to be released song Mang Hinehenawa which is written by Bandula Nanayakkarawasam. Other songs, Thaba Es Aga by Somalatha Herath and Sihine by Prbhath Kapurubandara would be the first to get released. Those will be followed by Hiru Deviyange Minisun a song by Darshana Ruwan Dissanayake. We asked Methu what is so special about music. “Music as a language has different variants of it. Over time, people sometimes think less of classical and original music.
That is wrong. After all, a wider range of music is very helpful,” a very deep Methu explained. Giving his words of wisdom to those who adamantly stick to one kind of music, he said, “Explain different genres, not just one. Respect all genres. None is above the other. In the meantime, if you can, go make your own music, in your own style. Music can do wonders. It speaks to our hearts and makes us think better.” For other youngsters, Methu said, “Enjoy whatever you do.
Make sure whatever you do is done at your best,” he said. He is such a package of brilliance. You can find his cover songs on his YouTube Channel, where many Sri Lankan children approach him and teachers show them as an inspiration. Methu Menuwara is already a star. But we can only wish him well and wait until we see this little all-rounder shine even more and reach the stars in the more literal sense as well with his ambition to travel to space.