In the beginning:
I began piano lessons at 7 years old. Not long after that I began to compose. At first it was just improvisations on the black keys and within two years I was writing my little pieces down on paper.
My first piano teacher wasn't a pianist, but an arranger, so my playing skills were terrible. He, however, would write out simplified pop tunes of the day during my lesson, a practice I continue to this day with my piano students. I enjoyed playing the pieces he would assign to me from sheet music, but I purposely didn't play them the way they were written. I played them the way I thought they should sound, much to the disapproval of my teacher.
The music studio where I took lessons was also a recording studio where the owner would periodically record me (his additional money making endeavor). I stayed with this teacher for five years . Interest in composing grew. My only tutorial was Arron Copland' "What to listen for in Music". I bought this book at a book fair when I was in 7th grade. My eight grade teacher took an interest in my and pushed my parents to change teachers. This is when I began my studies with Armen Boyajian, concert pianist and accompanist to Beverly Sills. In addition to teaching me how to play he also gave me melodies to harmonize. This was my only formal education in composing.
Manhattan School of Music and beyond
I spent my first year at MSM as a piano major, then I switched to composition and continued on to my Masters degree, studying with Dave Diamond. At the same time I played in local bars and began my teaching practice. I continued this way, eventually playing at Country Clubs in the New York and New Jersey Metropolitan area, developing my playing skills, and composing jazz pieces and modern classical music
To be continued...........
In high school I continued composing, growing as a pianist and began improvising jazz and pop tunes with other musicians. I composed for the Junior Philharmonic Orchestra of Paterson and small jazz ensembles.