Wednesday, May 29, 2013
I wrote my first piano solo when I was about 18 years of age. I had no experience in writing at all, I just decided one day that I'd like to write. The first piece I put down on paper was actually a transcription of a TV commercial song my father used to sing all the time. My dad was the scoutmaster. On camp outs, he would walk around singing "Aunt Jemima's Pancakes without the syrup, is like the spring without the fall. There's only one thing worse in the whole universe, and that's no Aunt Jemima at all." I heard my dad sing that little song over and over as I was growing up.
When I was 18, I received a mission call to serve in the Sao Paulo Brasil North Mission. Before I left, I decided to write this music down on paper and give it to my dad, sort of as a going away present. So that was my first composition.
On preparation days while in Brasil, every once in a while I would stumble across a piano. Not having any music with me except a hymn book, I would sit at the piano and just improvise stuff. Sometimes I played stuff that sounded pretty good, generally little tonal compositions that never got written down. During those two years, I thought it would be fun to study composition when I got home.
So, when I got home from my mission, I took a few music theory classes and began studying piano performance with Bonnie Winterton at the University of Utah. I was thinking seriously about becoming a music major, but ended up being an education major, specializing in special education. But that's a story for another time. As Bonnie's student, I was expected to practice the piano for a minimum of two hours per day. Many days I practiced much more than that, up to eight hours on some days. I really loved playing the piano in those days. And as I played, ideas would often pop into my head that were not even related to what I was playing. So I started writing these ideas down and working with them. They were very tonal, simple pieces, but some of them I really liked. I wrote dozens of pieces over the years.
When personal computers came into my life, I was really intrigued with music notation software that became available. I was finally able to print out my own compositions instead of just hand-writing everything on manuscript paper.
During this time, I was employed as a special education teacher for 32 years. I continued to write music and teach piano lessons on the side. The music that I wrote accumulated in my filing cabinet. I used it often with my piano students, but always felt bad that I couldn't do more than just photo copy this music and assemble it in a book at Kinko's.
In 2008, I finally decided to fulfill my life-long dream and get a degree in music composition. With the encouragement of my wife, I took an early retirement from teaching and went back to school with kids my children's ages (and younger). It was very interesting. I learned so many new things. I studied composition with Igor Iachimchuk, Morris Rosenszweig, Miguel Chuaqui, and Steve Rowens. I also studying music theory, music history, counterpoint, and all sorts of good stuff. I finished my degree in 2012 at the age of 58.
Quite obviously, my music compositions changed during this period. I still enjoyed writing tonal music, but also enjoyed doing some crazy post-tonal type music.
In 2011, I discovered CreateSpace hosted by Amazon.com. Now I could actually self-publish this music I had been writing for 40 years and get it professionally published in a nice music book format.
So there is a semi-brief story of my compositional history. There are now seven Pianistic Creations books on Amazon.com and another one in the works.
Pianistic Creations books on Amazon.com