Well, I have so many things to teach, my first teacher was actually like a friend. In fact, I first met her at a piano recital. She was like “you’re actually going to be my teacher. She wanted to show me the joys of the instrument so I could become as skilled as any of my friends.” I was like “hell nah, if I’m going to play piano, then I’m going to play it.” Because I think, like it or not, when I was growing up, my parents had always told me (I don’t regret it at all) that if someone asks me a question, then I should not say that the answer’s obvious, just because of what they would assume I would say. That’s not what I want to say. I had to learn on my own.
It’s funny, I was watching a documentary in about a week, about an African American musician named Freddie Mitchell, who played with the Black Keys. I was listening to his songs, thinking “Oh, yeah, I could really play that.” But I was really nervous about doing it. I did my first show and my first lesson and, well, I did it and was like “Oh, I can definitely do that.” I was a bit confused and then I realized that he was doing it his way so that he could be able to play the way he wanted to. After that, he stopped. As an artist, I feel like I wanted to continue to progress. Then I discovered this guy who was a teacher, who made piano lessons by himself, because he didn’t have much of a teaching team, or teachers that he could trust. I kind of fell in love with that approach.
At what point did you consider yourself a pianist? It really starts with you deciding that you want to be able to play a great piano in a way where you’re not being forced to play a song exactly the way you’re taught. So if I am doing an improv on the first day of class, I can say, “Hey, come on! No piano teacher can teach the way I’m playing, so go ahead and do whatever you want. Get on your phone, write up an idea on a pad and be silly. Let’s dance around with that song!” But you cannot use one of those. That’s an illusion, right? You can’t put that illusion on your fingers and say, “This is how it should be played, and I’ll be the best
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