Nev-You. Pronounced like Nephew but with a "V" sound rather than a "PH."
My grandmother had a little organ at her house, and I used to sit down and play that when I was a kid. I'd try to find the melodies for songs I heard on TV or the radio. Seeing that I had a natural inclination for doing that, my parents started me on piano lessons when I was 12. I didn't do very well in lessons, though. I had no interest in classical music, and so I was very undisciplined. I wanted my teachers to teach me how to play my own music which was, of course, not really possible and since I didn't like the music I was being taught, I never practiced (I was a very BAD student!) After a couple of very unproductive years of lessons, I quit. I kept playing around on the piano, though, doing my own thing until college, and then, my freshman year I took a very intense music theory course. That opened up my world, musically, and that's when I first began to really compose for piano. I'm basically self-taught. I just did my own thing at the piano long enough to eventually become good at it.
To a limited degree. Most third-year piano students can probably read sheet music better than I can. If I put the effort into it, I can usually work out an intermediate-level song from sheet music. But honestly, I don't have the patience for it. I've always been more interested in just playing my own creations. What I really enjoy about the piano more than anything is the process of creation, making something new out of nothing. If I need to learn a song for a wedding, or other event, I typically request a recording of the song the host wants played. I can learn a song much faster by listening to it than I can reading sheet music.
No, I play all my songs from memory. I haven't the patience to write them down. I've had sheet music for all my songs professionally transcribed direct from the CDs. Those are available here.
Most songs come to me through improvisation - just playing around until an interesting chord progression or melody strikes me. Then I develop it, pounding out the melody until the song takes form. It's a lot like making pottery, actually. You start with just a clump of clay (in this case, 88 keys), and you just start molding it, massaging it until it begins to take shape. Once I see where the piece is going, I can embellish it, improve it, smooth it out, and before long it has form, substance, a beginning and an end.
Anywhere from two hours to two or three years. Most songs take me about six to nine months before I am satisfied with them. But the length of time is also due to the fact that I'm typically composing a number of songs at once.
I don't know that my piano style is really something I "developed," per sé. It just kind of "was." I suppose my style could be the result of a combination of musical influences, but perhaps it's more related to my character. I have a quietly intense kind of personality - very thoughtful and analytical. My music is the same way, crafted from my analytical point of view. I don't really think about my style when I compose, or even the key I'm in. I just play the music, see what comes out, and then shape it into a melody and structure that appeals to me.
Technically speaking, I'm a very average pianist. I feel my real gift is in composition, and especially melody and expression. Melody is my strong suit - writing songs that grab you emotionally. That's what I'm good at - I keep my songs simple to play, but interesting to listen to and ear-catching.
About 90 minutes per day, 4-5 days a week. Any more than that and it starts to feel like work. I stop when I stop feeling it, emotionally. If I don't feel like playing, I don't.... but when I do, don't get in my way. :)
In August 2018, I purchased my forever piano, a Shigeru Kawai SK-7 which is a 7'6" grand. I've been an official Shigeru Kawai Artist since I purchased it. I just love it. Love the touch and expression.
Since 2007, I've recorded at Piano Haven Studio, which is now in Sedona, AZ.
Life is my influence. Life, travel, faith and family. As I experience things, I write songs about how events and happenings make me feel. I'm a deeply emotional person - perhaps too emotional - and my brain is just always going, analyzing everything. I think my music is an outlet for that. Playing the piano is how I let off steam, how I channel my passions, my hopes and my prayers.
Most of my musical influences come from my younger years. I was BIG into progressive rock music in college, and my love for changes in time and tempo are directly influenced by bands like Rush, Pink Floyd, Kansas, and Renaissance. As far as the piano goes, were it not for my being introduced to the music of pianist George Winston, I don't think I would have ever even thought of writing for solo piano. So, he was a big influence early on. Aside from that, I enjoy the piano music of Chopin, Debussy and Ravel - the moody stuff. Other artists that influenced me musically include The Monkees (yes, I'm serious), Clannad, Kate Bush, and Pacific Northwest artist Jeff Johnson.
I really do dislike having the term 'New Age' applied to my music. I don't want anything to do with it. Unfortunately, 'New Age' is the standard label the music industry has applied to any music that is instrumental in nature, yet doesn't easily fit into the 'classical' or 'jazz' genres. All modern solo piano music - George Winston, Jim Brickman, Yanni, and others - are considered 'New Age' music for the purpose of categorization. As far as the music industry is concerned, New Age music is simply a category - much like Classical, Jazz, Pop, Alternative, Rap, and World Music are categories. It's just a way to delineate one music style from another. Most people in the industry don't think twice about the 'religious' inferences. I do, though, and it bothers me.
No. I don't subscribe to 'New Age' religious philosophies in any way. I believe there is one God, creator of all things, who has revealed himself to man through his Holy Word (the Bible), and who was made flesh in the person of Jesus Christ. It is only through a relationship with the resurrected Christ, that we can be reconciled and restored to our creator. Salvation and restoration is available to every man or woman who believes, and puts their faith in the Lord Jesus. It is by His grace and mercy that we are saved, not by any work that we do ourselves. That is the faith on which I stand. I see my abilities on the piano as a gift from the Lord, and it's my desire to use those abilities to point to and glorify Him. My music reflects my faith, my love for the Bible, and my desire to serve my King. Occasionally, you'll see me promoting my music with other 'New Age' music (such as on iTunes). I do this because most of the people who enjoy solo piano music are searching/browsing that category on iTunes. I want my music to be where people are searching. It just provides one more opportunity to share my music, my faith, and my testimony with others.