I have never been one to sit still when it comes to exploring my musical tastes. As a child, the music that occupied my mind were film music, pop music, broadway music, and even video game music. That started to evolve in my early teens, when I got into MTV videos and grunge and rock bands. By the time I entered high school, I made my first dramatic shift: I became a devotee to classical music, largely inspired by the piano music of Beethoven. For about five years, I hardly listened to anything but classical. Then the lid came off of things, and in the middle of college I started listening to pop music again and returning to the music I had been into as a child. At the end of college I found myself drawn into, of all things, rap. Needless to say, my musical interests have been eclectic.
My professional and creative work in music has also reflected this diversity. As a performer, I have accompanied for adult singers doing Schumann art songs; I have also accompanied for seven year old kids singing “Annie.” I have played in a Tom Petty tribute band performing in bars; I have also played Cole Porter tunes at retirement homes. I have played the harpsichord for productions of “The Marriage of Figaro” and “Don Giovanni;” I have also played rock piano for the Elvis musical “All Shook Up.”
In terms of creating original music, I have: performed improvised boogie woogie for the elderly; recorded instrumentals used for rap songs by Bay Area hip hop artists; written a fully staged “operetta” using elements of both classical and rap music for a Teen opera program; and written an album of soothing piano music. Meanwhile, I have written rap songs to be played at the piano, and I have collaborated on a rock song to be rapped to. I have written songs that could be used in musical theater, and I have written piano pieces that people have told me could be in motion pictures.
This is how my musical eclecticism has shown up. As an artist, I believe there is something that can be gained from all music. I am fascinated by music and sincerely like to continue learning. No matter what I have done, I have been driven by the same insatiable fascination with music in its various facets, and the desire to be able to express and create music in whatever way I see fit, or in whatever way is appropriate for the context and situation. I enjoy having a broad musical language to draw from, and I enjoy being able to use that language in my creativity.
I think it is important for any artist, of any and all creative medium, to explore their interests, and to expand their skills in any way that inspires them. Becoming well-rounded as an artist to me means having a broad artistic vocabulary with which I can express myself creatively. I cannot say this was a conscious plan of mine, that is, to learn lots of different styles. But I get a lot of satisfaction from thinking of myself as versatile. And no doubt, it has made my career to date a continual adventure, a process of growth and discovery that is always a great learning experience.
I would have not have it any other way. I do not think of myself as being a “jack of all trades.” For from it. For one thing, through all my work, playing piano has been a constant, and I have always been dedicated to expanding my skills as a performer and as a creator. Instead, I would say that it is more that my ears are open. I hear and have heard a variety of types of music from a variety of artists, new and old. And many, many times these various artists have caught my attention and inspired me to want to learn more about them, to know more about their music, and to be able to understand and play their music. I have never said no to this inspiration. To do so would be counter to my nature as an artist.
Instead, I have allowed myself to continually explore, and as new work opportunities and creative projects have showed up, I have repeatedly said yes to them. In the process, I have said yes to a lifelong commitment to creative discovery and musical learning that I am sure will stimulate me and keep me occupied until the end of my days.
Needless to say, I am proud to be musically eclectic.