Your Piano Bar
When I was growing up in North Jersey, I would sit in admiration as my dad played and sang at the piano. His go-to songs were from Sinatra, The Beatles, and Billy Joel. He wasn’t a trained technical musician – he played for the simple joy of playing; he loved music and came alive with infectious energy whenever he sang. Watching my father was the genesis of my desire to become a “piano bar” player. My father and I would play and sing together, and it was through our shared enjoyment of music we forged our bond.
I began taking piano lessons when I was 5 ½ years old and continued studying music for the rest of my life, culminating in a Bachelor of Music from University of Miami.
Regardless of how rigorous my technical training became, like my dad, I would always return to playing songs for fun. I started playing and singing the same music he did, and a bit of the current music I listened to on the radio.
I had a band in elementary school, and another in high school. I also played in the theater shows, and would transcribe arrangements of my favorite songs so my bands could play them – although they often wouldn’t want to.
In college I continued writing out my favorite songs for bands and did play a bunch of great cover tunes with my music fraternity friends. I would go into the practice rooms on campus and bang out my favorite Billy Joel or Polyphonic Spree songs, invoking odd looks from teachers or security guards, because I was playing so loud and big.
That experience instilled in me that you should do your own thing, what brings you joy, what makes you “you”, even if it doesn’t fit what people expect and think you should do.