I don’t often veer off the beaten path in my piano blogs except when an unusual opportunity presents.
In this case, a 19-year old named Tony Levine, a.k.a El Cerrito K-I-D grabs the spotlight.
To make a long story short, Tony was one of my piano students about a year ago.
At the time, he complied with a regimen of scales and arpeggios, but seemed hyped by musical theater excursions (West Side Story) and a movie theme here and there, like “Liz on Top of the World” from Pride and Prejudice.
His real idol was Ryan Leslie, though I couldn’t find a sized-down arrangement by the rocker. Most originals were out of Tony’s playing range.
Instead he ended up toying with some Beatles’ tunes: “Hey Jude,” “Yesterday,” “Let it Be!” to name a few.
His real love was messing with his keyboard and creating Rap verses. He’d spend hours experimenting with layered soundtracks, color combos, riffs, ostinatos, brainstorming himself, exploring every sound phenomenon he could–and this was a full-blown PASSION.
Who couldn’t notice?
I knew, first-hand, how teens had come through my studio with a variety of musical leanings, and I’d gone the distance to indulge them, amassing huge scores, pasted together, not easily fitting on the piano rack. You’d see a pile on the rug as I tossed aside extra pages. (Cold Play–“Viva la Vida,” was a bummer with repeats, dal segnos, double and triple endings)
So who said I was a square, totally Classical molded piano teacher? (one qualifier: I’d usually negotiate. If a student wanted pop, he had to pair with Bach, Beethoven, Brahms, et al.) And don’t forget fundamentals of piano technique!!
Basically, I’d go with the flow, getting on board the contempo choo choo.
Taylor Swift, “Forever and Always,” Five for Fighting “100 years,” not to forget a Christian Ballade,” You Raise Me Up,” that needed sizing down. Otherwise, it would be like spaghetti taking up half my living space.
The latest request was “Innocent,” by Swift. No sweat!
As it happened Tony went off to college and couldn’t continue his piano lessons, but about 9 months later, his mom, a retired attorney, phoned and said her son was back in the local loop.
She wanted him to resume classes.
But the teen was married to technology. His keyboard, mics, amplifiers, spun into the process. Who needed or wanted piano lessons? His LYRICS were incubating to the exponential.
K-I-D’S inborn talent bloomed and developed. He hooked up with Aris Jerome in L.A. who agreed to direct one of his Rap creations and gear it to video format.
Meanwhile, Tony earned his Pro Tools Certificate, and continued to learn even more spiffy recording techniques from a skilled engineer.
The upshot was KID’s bookings in San Francisco and Oakland, no small accomplishment!
So this is where Tony wanted to be– NOT propped up at his mother’s upright piano pumping scales.
Currently, K-I-D’s on a roll with his newly packaged CD releases, and Rap videos.
The last one, “This is How I Jam!” is a grabber from start to finish!
As the final footnote to Tony’s achievements, he needs your help.
Takes less then a minute to nominate K-I-D by going to the following web site:
The Bay Area Freshmen 10 is a yearly award presented by DJ Amen of 106.1 FM KMEL and Thizzler On The Roof (http://www.thizzler.com/). Every year, 10 of the most promising up & coming Bay Area artists are nominated by the public then voted on by Bay Area professionals and tastemakers.
LINK: Tony Levine (K-I-D’s) You Tube Channel