Posted October 9th, 2017 | By A4A.admin
Photo courtesy of Devin DeHaven
This week, we’re continuing our alumni series with pianist and composer, Taylor Eigsti, who started taking lessons at CSMA at 6 years old! Eigsti has released 7 albums, garnered multiple GRAMMY Award nominations, and traveled internationally performing everywhere from Carnegie Hall to the Hollywood Bowl!
Taylor Eigsti, Musician
How did you get started in the arts?
I started playing piano when I was 4, largely inspired by my sister Shannon, who was a young jazz and rock pianist who passed away when I was 3 and she was 17. After a few years of traditional piano lessons, my teacher noticed I preferred to make things up, and recommended that I take jazz. My first jazz lesson was with Randy Masters at CSMA when I was 6. Randy opened my mind to all of the ways to have fun playing music, and I’ve never looked back largely thanks to his guidance and inspiration, and the environment and resources of CSMA.
Taylor Eigsti with Randy Masters in 2013
What was your favorite class you took at CSMA? What was a favorite moment or lesson?
In addition to studying with Randy, I joined several jazz combos at CSMA, and attended a handful of workshops by Smith Dobson and Peter Spitzer, among others. CSMA was like a playground for me, where I was able to explore the music in a way that was fun and interactive. I gained so much knowledge and a love of the music there.
What are you up to now?
I’m usually on the road throughout the year, touring with different bands all over the world. It’s draining at times since I’m probably gone around 200 days per year, but I feel fortunate to have the opportunity to travel and do what I love the most. I’ve been primarily touring in the bands of Chris Botti, Kendrick Scott, Eric Harland, Gretchen Parlato, Sachal Vasandani, and Ben Wendel, while also touring with my own band and writing symphonic music. I’m currently working on a new album, which I’m hoping to release in mid-2018.
How did CSMA help you prepare for your musical career?
What I learned at CSMA has been the foundation of everything I am as a musician. I learned not only the mechanics of music, but also a great love for playing music. CSMA also created a social environment where I encountered many other great musicians and realized I wasn’t alone. I never went to a music school growing up, so being around other students at CSMA, many who have gone on to music careers themselves, really taught me that music is about community.
What advice do you have for young, aspiring musicians?
Fall in love with the music in any way you are drawn to, and follow that closely! Allow yourself to go through different phases, and deliberately listen to a lot of music that you don’t like at first. Know that it’s a long journey, and stay patient and dedicated - the only way to really turn it into a career is to be all-in! Stay inspired, listen to music socially, make friends, and let people hear you and know that you exist!