I have always been captivated by music. One could often find me as a young kid laying down next to one of our old home stereo speakers immersing myself in my parent's 8-track collections of Fleetwood Mac, Air Supply, The Eagles, Mozart, Beethoven or the soundtracks to "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" and "Phantom of the Opera". This is where I learned to really appreciate, listen to and feel music for the first time. But it also became the fertile foundation for my early steps as a young composer and songwriter.
I have vivid memories of listening to my mom play our old Kimball upright piano and sitting under her piano bench as she played, curiously watching her feet dance upon three scuffed and worn out pedals. I was around 6 years old when I eventually began to play the piano by myself; learning by ear the songs I was hearing my mother play.
My parents bought me my first keyboard when I was 7 at the local Costco (a Yamaha PSS-270) and I began creating my own original songs almost instantly to the built in beats (who remembers 8-beat and disco?). When I got a little older, I got my first "large" keyboard (a Casio CT-650). This led to dabbling with sequencing and synthesizers on units such as the Yamaha SY77, Roland XP50 and the massive 80's throw back EMU Emulator III.
When I began talking piano lessons at 8, it was quickly made clear that the novelty of playing by ear would not impress my first piano teacher at all. In fact she "fired" me as a student within a couple months for pretending to read the sheet music to Bach Minuet in G at a recital. I literally had gone down to the local Radio Shack and bought a collection of Bach's music on cassette tape to learn by ear instead of learning to read the sheet music she gave me.
My second piano teacher, Barry, a Jazz musician, changed my perception of what music could be. He encouraged me to improvise and let whatever my heart and fingers wanted to play to be played. Many of our times together consisted of us playing "Heart & Soul" in crazy new ways without a care in the world with how it sounded to anyone else. The idea was to play from the heart, not from the chart. Though my time with Barry was short, I will never forget having been given the "permission" so-to-speak, to create. This blew the creativity doors open for me.
As I entered my teen years, I was a normal kid who played soccer and water skied my days away. However, I was always most at home behind the piano or keyboard keys. Those who knew me best growing up will likely remember the guy who always gravitated towards the piano in every room - ready to play whatever new song I was writing at that time for any ear willing to listen. I made cassettes of songs I was writing and would give them out to people - sometimes writing a story to go along with the music that they could read as they listened. I hoped at some level there would be a connection with where my songs came from or what I was feeling when the songs were written.
In 2003, I had the privilege of releasing my first solo piano album called Moments. Though I had originally set out to record a collection of pre-written songs, I actually decided to do something different. Over the course of a few days, I sat at the piano and simply pressed record - letting my fingers play whatever they wanted to. When it was done, I had recorded an album of songs that was 90% written on the spot. I even left in the nasty wrong notes and mistakes. Who does that!? I also added some simple orchestral touches on some of the songs as well. This ended up being my first attempt at doing any type orchestral writing.
Today, I'm still sitting behind the piano keys (as well as a lot of studio gear) creating and writing as I have done since I was 7. And though I have been a professional musician, worship leader and songwriter for over 25 years now, it wasn't until recently that I began to seriously pursue a life-long desire of recording and releasing my composition work to the world. As I have gotten older and have been able to take in amazing music by other writers around the world (thanks to the internet), I'm reminded of that kid who used to lay on the ground near our old stereo speakers, soaking in every note that came out of them. That very first inkling I had to create has grown and matured into a genuine desire to write deeply meaningful music. Music that people can appreciate, of course, but also be changed by when they listen to it.
I really hope you enjoy listening to my songs as much as I do creating them.
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You can also visit www.robandelise.com to learn more about the music my wife and I write together.