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Shirley S Kirsten

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Steering a teen piano student to his life's passion
by Shirley S Kirsten   
Rated "G" by the Author.
Last edited: Wednesday, January 11, 2012
Posted: Wednesday, January 11, 2012

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           >> View all

Rap Music!!!


Steering a piano student to his true life passion: Rap music, perhaps! (Video)

I don’t often veer off the beaten path in these blogs, except when an unusual opportunity presents.

In this case, a 19-year old named Tony Levine, aka “Antonio” grabs the spotlight.

To make a long story short, Tony was one of my piano students up in El Cerrito (in the Bay area) 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 decent arrangement by the rocker. Otherwise I was amenable to give it whirl.

Instead Tony 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 his PASSION, full-blown.

Who wouldn’t notice it?


God only knows how many teens have come through my studio with intriguing musical leanings.  And I’ve gone for the ride amassing huge scores, pasted together, not fitting on the piano rack. There’s usually a pile on the rug that’s accumulated as I toss the extra pages aside.

 Who said I was a square, totally Classical molded piano teacher? (one qualifier: I usually negotiate. If a student wants pop, he has to pair with Bach, Beethoven, Brahms, et al.)

Still, to survive and keep my head above water, I have to go with the flow and get on board the contempo choo choo.

To survive, I have to go with the flow and get on board the contempo choo choo.


Taylor Swift, “Forever and Always,” Five for Fighting “100 years,” Cold Play, “Viva La Vida,” and then a Christian Ballade,” You Raise Me Up,” that I had to trim down, or else it would be like spaghetti taking up half my living space downstairs. The latest request was “Innocent,” another Taylor Swift offering. I had to finger the scores like crazy!


As it happened Tony went off to college and couldn’t continue his piano lessons, but about 9 months later, his mom phoned and said her son was back in the local loop, and she wanted him to resume classes.

But the teen was married to his technology, keyboard, and all the extra mics that spun into the process. Who needed or wanted piano lessons?

And Tony’s talent indeed 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.

In the meantime Tony earned his Pro Tools Certificate, and continued to learn even more spiffy recording techniques from a skilled engineer.

It’s obvious where Tony wanted to be--not propped up at his mother’s upright piano.

Currently, he’s on a roll with his newly packaged CD release, and Rap video.


So ‘Tis time to celebrate Tony’s latest accomplishment, “This is How I Jam!” applauding his hard work from start to finish!

Go for it, dude!!!

(P.S.Did you have to smash those precious watermelons? Thanks, however, for clean lyrics, and no offense to women, which is what I normally detest about RAP music.)

Tony’s You Tube Channel

More about Tony’s CD:








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