Learning the only way – first notes

One of the regrets of my childhood was not learning to play the piano. I did go for a few lessons but never kept it up. Ever since I can remember I have had melodies pop into my head and occasionally I would record them into my mobile phone or call my grandparents answerphone and sing them in and I cannot tell you how many laughs that caused when picking up voicemail messages.

My first experience of actual song writing was with a friend of mine Daniel Newman,  we sat with some lyrics that I had written and created a few songs that I can still remember some of to this day. I always wanted to be able to write down exactly what was in my head but I had no way to do this and it caused me a lot of frustration.

When I first met Laura she had a digital piano which was the very first time I had any kind of piano in the house. I used to walk up and play a random selection of notes on the piano and say ‘there is something in that!’ thinking I had struck something brilliant (believe me it wasn’t). Despite numerous offers from Laura to teach me, I found myself being a complete pest and just had to do things my own way. It took me just a year to learn to play and during the course of learning and the first melody I wrote was for ‘A Miner’s Song’. I don’t read music but I learnt to play chords which meant I had the tools to bring the melodies to life!

Eventually we bought a real piano and I never looked back. Today we have just part exchanged the piano for a baby grand piano which we have named ‘George’ after George Gershwin and we look forward to seeing what songs can be created on this piano. The lady who owned it cherished it and was a musician but sadly arthritis made it too difficult for her to play. I have always wanted a baby grand piano and we will look after it very well for her.

Myself and Laura write music in an unusual way – but it works for us and I think that is because of the fact that we are married and have a real understanding. Normally I write the basis of the melody and some of the lyrics from the outset. I will then hand over the song to her and she will pour some magic into it and embellish and alter some melodies, as well as comes up with an introduction and instrumental. We often then have a domestic as we both battle to alter or keep the parts we like. (Laura nearly always wins) and we then work on the song together again to finish it.

Sometimes people have a dream which seems impossible based on their circumstances, and for me that dream was to be a composer without being to play a note on the piano and having little musical training. I spent many hours of serious frustration literally shouting at myself for making mistakes on the piano.  I was determined with every piece of me to learn and see if I could actually write songs (will leave that one for you to judge) but I strongly believe that if you want something enough you can do it. It may not happen overnight but you will get there.

I was asked recently about somebody’s chances of making it in the industry. They were very talented but here is something that is true. Just by preserving and not stopping at the first hurdle you have out-done 99% of people because not very many find the guts to stick with their dream. Find what it is that makes you want to wake up in the morning and then do everything you can to reach for it. Always push yourself to be better. Ramin Karimloo is storming Broadway at the moment in Les Miserables and he has found his own way of playing Jean ValJean and in doing that unlocked some of the character that has not been seen before by audiences. It doesn’t matter what has been done before, you can sing to your own tune. To quote Ramin ‘you have nothing to prove, only to share’

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4 thoughts on “Learning the only way – first notes

  1. Touched my heart yet again. Last few weeks I’ve been thinking “why didn’t you keep up with your piano lessons, why, why, why…discovered boys, that’s why! I play a bit of piano, a bit of dulcimer, and a bit of flute…I’m a bit player!

    I’m so grateful the genius for music inside your head was finally set free! I’m pretty sure “A Miner’s Song” is what originally piqued my interest in all that is Dan and Laura Curtis, although rightfully it should be, Laura and Dan Curtis…ladies first. I listen to A Miner’s Song every day…it’s so absolutely beautiful.

    And aren’t you lucky to have such a strong, beautiful and gifted woman to be by your side through life? All that the two of you say, and do is the inspiration for moving to Wales…keeping my eye on the prize! Blessings to you both!

    In the beginning, I wan’t exactly keen on Mr. Karimloo, but I kept listening, and listening and let his music grow in my head and have learned the way he “owns” a song…it’s pretty magical! I’m thinking of burning “Broken” on a cd and taking it to some of the radio stations here in Albuquerque to see if I could get them to play it…I know a few DJs from the little bit of work I do on radio. I just don’t want to upset anyone…what do you think? I’ve asked permission but Mr. Karimloo’s so busy being Jean Valjean, a husband and a daddy he hasn’t had time to answer.

    I thought the baby grand was a girl…”Prince George” the piano, hmmm. The piano I learned on was an old upright that my mom had painted pink…a bit brighter than we all expected!

    Have a lovely weekend!

    • I am sure that Ramin would be very grateful for you doing that. Getting music out there is always the hardest thing and introducing it to as many people as possible. We certainly appreciate all the kind support that you put our way. It means the World.

      We were going to give the piano a girls name but George Gershwin seemed fitting. The piano sounds great with his pieces and there is certainly not greater inspiration for us.

      Uprights are lovely and we would have kept both if we had of had the space for it.

      Thanks again honestly really appreciate it xxx

  2. Okay, will do…I’m just never sure if there’s an interest in being known in the US. Some promotions, Alfie Boe for instance, pretty much ignore us, or maybe we’re ignoring him. Our state fair would be a perfect venue for Mr. Karmiloo and Sheytoons.

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