Adriana Kraig sits at the keyboard of the Baldwin piano, playing from memory. Her heart-covered Vans sneaker works the pedal as she plays swiftly, breathing heavily as she comes to the end of a piece by Bach.

She has only been studying piano since August 2006.

Indian-born Surojeet Chatterji's Hesperia High School classroom is full of students who can now play complex classical music pieces, without sheet music and with a skill and versatility that belies the fact that most have been playing the piano for months, not years.

More than a dozen students take their turns at the piano, while their classmates pound on Yamaha keyboards at the back of the room, practicing with headphones on their head.

All of them are preparing for the first public performance most of them have ever had, next Saturday at Hesperia United Methodist Church.

"This she has done in three months," Chatterji says after Nadine Fuentes, a Ranchero Middle School student participating in the program, finishes. "Imagine what she'll do in five years."

He's a teacher of the Russian school of piano -- one student proudly boasts Chatterji was taught by a woman who was taught by a man who was taught by, if one goes back enough generations, Ludwig von Beethoven -- which emphasizes passion and interpretation over typewriter-like precision.

Some of the students in Chatterji's class, now in its second year at the school, have had lessons prior to studying under him and have had to unlearn their old stiff habits, while others, like Daniel Dorado, play freely and heedlessly, elbows akimbo, his long fingers moving spider-like across the keys.

"I've been playing the piano for eight years and I read the article in the newspaper," said Leah Oubre, who switched from Hesperia Christian School to Hesperia High to study under Chatterji. "I wanted to get a piece of it."

Jonathan Schilling finishes Muzio Clementi's Sonatina in C in Three Movements as the school's public address system blares to life.

"He began on August 14," Chatterji says, ignoring the interruption. "Never knew a note of music. He should be in the Guinness Book of World Records."

Chatterji's students will be playing in a recital on Saturday, May 12, at Hesperia United Methodist Church at 18623 Main Street at 6 p.m.

Beau Yarbrough can be reached at 956-7108 or at beau@hesperiastar.com.