What I Do
My first original music came through improvising and layering tracks on GarageBand in my early teens. It wasn't until high school that I was encouraged to try my hand at notation. This more traditional method proved to require an entirely different way of thinking, and lead to require equally different results.
Not so different from composing, this is something I've come to really enjoy in recent years.
As a violinist, I was extremely lucky to get experience with viola early on. At Mary Lou's youth camp, there was a typical shortage of violists, so most violinists there had to play viola at some point or other. It was a struggle at first, but eventually I took to it. A memorable turning point was getting to play my first nice viola, just in time for a performance of Brahms's Sextet Andante. That first experience of pulling out those delicious, rich dark tones stayed with me, and I've wound up playing viola very often since then - through college and after.
My experience playing music goes back farthest on violin, having begun lessons at the age of six. Unfortunately I did not like it, and my poor mother endured much resistance to keep me going through the years. My first memory of enjoying the instrument came around age 12, playing chamber music right down the road at a Summer Music Camp organized by Mary Lou Rylands. I continued taking lessons throughout high school, though it still was not something I was passionate about. So it was with some reluctance that pursued it as a 'default' college major, having not accomplished much in any other discipline. Happily, all my parents money and effort and believing in me did pay off, because in my third year of school at the University of Southern Maine, I fell deeply in love with playing violin. I was drawn in by J.S. Bach's Chaconne, which kept me enraptured, hard at work leading up to my Senior recital, and being selected to perform in USM's highly competitive honors recital.
Hear my most recent performance of the Chaconne, at HCA in March 2018
I play a violin made by luthier Peter Yang from Chicago, Ill.
My bow is made by Eben-Bodach Turner from Montpellier, VT
My first original music came through improvisation, and layering tracks on GarageBand. I would record one part, and then another and another on top of each other. Having this technology in my hands was like discovering an extraordinary power. I became hooked, and soon was pouring hours a day into it. I would program drum parts, come up with licks on the electric guitar and bass, add vocals, and create song. This exciting realm of exploration remained my primary interest for almost a decade. In the very beginning most of my experiments were, well... in retrospect they don't sound great. But I was learning, and with each one gradually improved. By the age of 18 I had become a proficient songwriter, and was consistently producing material I remain proud of today.
Picking up my Mom's old Gibson at around 12 was a very transformative period in my life. It was the first time I was playing music on my own terms, and being free of rules was liberating. Thanks to my violin background, I was able to apply much of the technique learned there (especially for left hand) and the new instrument naturally drew me in.
Have a listen to one of my chill jazzy guitar Imrovisations
The Piano story starts similar to the one with violin. It was part of my education starting from around age 6 through 15. Like anything else education related, I generally avoided it as best I could. I stopped playing for many years, but then began picking it up again, now mostly in a fun & informal way. In this way it has proved an excellent tool for composition. On one occasion I did appear at the keys professionally - serving as Pianist and band leader for a high school production of Peter Pan.