I’ve decided to go public with this so that I can be held accountable!
I started playing the saxophone when I was 10, and my first teacher had a piano in his studio. He would occasionally play songs for me on the piano and I thought it was such an awesome, mysterious instrument. When I was was 12, I started splitting the lessons – 30 minutes piano and 30 minutes saxophone, and after about a year or so of steady piano practicing I got seriously addicted.
I could already read music from my saxophone studies, so I developed pretty quickly as a pianist and started playing Chopin Nocturne’s around age 15, and until age 26 I always had a classical piano teacher. In college I played a couple of short piano recitals, and was an active chamber music accompanist for several student recitals as well. When I got to Manhattan School of Music to get an M.M. in Jazz Performance, I continued my studies with a great pianist and teacher – Jeffrey Cohen, which lasted for a semester.
At MSM I was surrounded by classical pianists who had been playing since they were 5 or 6 and practiced 6 to 8 hours a day. It was intimidating for a hobbyist like me, and besides I was at MSM to study jazz saxophone! I can remember when I was in a practice room struggling with a piano piece (Berg’s Sonata No. 1 to be exact!) and hearing another pianist working on some Rachmaninoff Concerto next door. A switch flipped in my head and in that moment I decided to put the piano on the back burner. I quit my piano lessons and ever since the piano has been a tool for my arranging, jazz studies, and earning some money playing the occasional piano gig.
2 years ago, I bought a used piano…a semi decent Kranich & Bach console piano. I’ve started delving back into the classical world a little bit: I learned and memorized the first movement of the Beethoven Waldstein Sonata, and a prelude and fugue from the Well Tempered Clavier. When I was first studying piano, I didn’t really understand the depth of the classical music tradition…I thought that this music was just notes on a page that was put there by someone 200-300 years just to challenge and frustrate me! Throughout my years of study of music and composition, as well as some classes at MSM (like 20th Century Music taught by Nils Vigeland, one of the best classes I’ve ever taken!) I’ve gained a new perspective on classical music and with it, a strong desire to return to my classical piano studies.
So here’s the goal: To perform a one hour classical piano recital by 2012. Nothing fancy. I’m not shooting for Carnegie Hall. Maybe a small recital hall in one of the piano retailers on 58th St. and for friends and family. You heard it here first. Wish me luck!