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Interview with Earl Johnson, February 2023
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Earl Johnson is an artist I discovered when he sent me his first three albums and songbooks to review last year. Earl was recently welcomed into the Whisperings group of solo pianists and is currently working on his fourth album. I think you will enjoy getting to know Earl as much as I have!

KP: Hey Earl! How are things in Los Angeles today?

EJ: Hi Kathy! Los Angeles' weather has been so crazy lately! We have been getting hit by what they are calling “bomb cyclones,” a fancy way of saying that a series of about six large storms are in the process of moving across California and continuing to work their way east. It has been raining nonstop for several days now and the flash flood warnings have been constant. The good news is that California will benefit from all the extra water as we have been in a drought for several years!

KP: It seems that the weather has gotten strange everywhere lately! Is your year off to a good start?

EJ: It sure is! To celebrate the New Year I rented an airbnb with my two sisters and a few of our good friends. We stayed in Temecula, California, which is known for its many wineries. The city is gorgeous with its vast open green land and lush natural scenery. We checked out the local restaurants and vineyards, and played board games, card games, and just laughed into the New Year. It was a blast!

KP: Sounds like fun! I've read that you're working on a fourth album called Love & Loss. Tell us about it.

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Earl and his sisters with Santa.
EJ: Yes, as the title suggests, Love & Loss will be my romantic album that explores the burning emotions of both romance and heartbreak. On the surface, it may seem that the obvious move would be to simply create songs about falling in love or losing a romantic partner. But if you think about it, you will realize that there are countless possibilities that one person could ever love or lose. We can love our romantic partners, but we also love our families. You can love your pet, having a day off, reading your favorite book, eating your favorite ice cream, helping others, sharing a laugh with a friend, sleeping in on the weekend and so much more. There are endless things one can love and many different ways to love them!

Many people love what they do for work. Kathy, you love interviewing musicians and reviewing their works. You have found joy in this activity. Those many different yet wonderful moments in life that we we love have me exploring these emotions on the piano and have been the foundation of my creative process for this album.

As for loss, the unfortunate reality is that we can and will lose many things in our lifetimes. This will be anything from losing your keys, to a pet, a job, your sanity, a friend, or a loved one. I have been enjoying the process of delving deeply into concepts such as these, and they will be the basis for the songs I will compose for the album. I am hoping to have Love & Loss released in 2023, so be on the lookout for that!

KP: I'll be ready! Will you be releasing a sheet music book for the album, too?

EJ: Absolutely! I have made it my mission to provide sheet music and songbooks for all my releases. When published, expect to receive your own personal copy of the sheet music book, Kathy!
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Click on album covers to
go to Kathy's reviews.

KP: I'm looking forward to it!

Congratulations on becoming a Whisperings Artist in 2022! That's a great group of artists and David Nevue has created a wonderful thing with Whisperings! Your music is perfect for the broadcast!

EJ: Thank you! I am overjoyed at the experience David has blessed me with, as I now have the opportunity to have my piano music shared and heard by listeners all over the world! There are so many talented pianists on the Whisperings Radio broadcast, and it is an honor to have my music complimenting theirs.

I have noticed that since being on Whisperings, people have been buying my sheet music and songbooks from locations throughout the United States, as well as countries such as the United Kingdom, Poland, Canada, and France, to name a few. This has been an amazing experience and it is truly a dream come true for me that I can say that I sell songbooks internationally!

KP: That really is exciting! I recently reviewed your three albums and the companion sheet music books and loved them all! Dawn was released in 2021 and tells a story without words. Would you tell us a bit about it?

EJ: Dawn is a fantastical story that takes you through a mysterious place filled with magical natural surroundings and mystifying landmarks, all while being guided by the music!

I got the idea for Dawn when I discovered and was immediately entranced by the artwork that I used as the album cover. During the production of Dawn, I was obsessed, staring constantly at the artwork and imagining what would happen if I were to step straight into this picture? What would I see? What would I smell? What would I hear? If I went exploring here, what would I find and what would I do? Would I ever come across anyone else, or would it just be me here all alone? These questions led me to imagine a place filled with tall trees, vast forests, great castles, dense fog, enchanted waters, bright moons that illuminate the night sky, and a lonesome yet extraordinary world brimming with endless wonder. I just HAD to create the music that embodied this magical place!

I encourage anyone who wants the true experience of Dawn to start by staring deeply into the album art for several minutes before pressing play. Allow your mind to imagine the places you might see in the world presented to you. Make sure there are no distractions, and be prepared to dedicate a full hour to the experience. When ready to embark on your magical journey, start with the first track, "Last Soul," and listen to each song in order. Be sure to read the title of each song as it comes up and be moved by what that song title means to you. Also be sure to read the description I have provided for each song (which you can find by clicking here). As you listen, continue to let your imagination wander freely. The piano, song titles, and song descriptions will all work together to act as your musical roadmap to guide you on your journey.

It is important to know that each song in the album represents one hour of time passing. The first song, "Last Soul," takes place at 3pm. Each song takes place one hour after the previous one until the final song, "Dawn," which happens at 5am. The album starts off very dark. This is to emphasize the feeling of being alone in your journey across the album. As the songs progress, and especially towards the end, there will be signs of light (with titles such as "Moonlight," "Waking the Fireflies," and "Inspire"), suggesting that the you will in fact make it to the end of your journey.

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Click on book covers to
go to Kathy's reviews.
With Dawn, I want my listeners to have an experience that feels alone, magical, one in which perseverance is a huge key to their successes, and most importantly, I want them to know that there is light for them at the end.

KP: Interesting! You released your first album, Reflections, in 2014. What was the inspiration for that album?

EJ: Reflections started off as a passion project in order to give a few piano recordings to my piano students. It then became a personal challenge to see if I could even accomplish the task of composing an entire album. To expand upon that challenge, I made sure to compose all but two of the songs of Reflections in a different key. My motivation and inspiration all came from the heart and I allowed the music to flow through me naturally.

Since the release of Reflections, I have grown in so many ways both musically and otherwise. Even so, I am still proud to have composed it. It is my first album, so that alone will always mean something special to me. A fun fact is that I appropriately named the album Reflections so that I could look back anytime at my first compositions and reflect on how far along I have come.

KP: It was six years before you released Continuance. Why the long time between albums?

EJ: The honest answer is I was just living life. I did not know yet that I wanted to be a full-time composer. After releasing Reflections, I got a job for a few years as a bartender and then for several years at an insurance and finance company. Mind you, I was still teaching piano on the side part-time while working these other jobs. Although I was making great money at the insurance and finance company, I couldn’t help but wonder what life would be like if I were to commit myself to music full time. So one day I made the decision to quit my job and committed to teaching and composing solo piano music full-time. Truly, this was the best decision I ever could have made, as I am following my dreams!

KP: That's so important! What motivated you to create a second album? Did it have a theme or specific idea?

EJ: Well, with the decision to go all in with piano, I wanted to make another album that was even bigger and better than the first! My goal for this album was to show the world that I take composing seriously. The name for the album, Continuance, means that I am in a state of operation, existence, and continuation, signaling to the world that composing will now be what I do relentlessly. It was during the making of Continuance that I also expanded my website and offered sheet music, songbooks, and merchandise for sale.

KP: Okay, let's get to know more about you and your life so far! Where were you born and where did you grow up?

EJ: I was born in Sylmar, California, and our family grew up in Los Angeles. I have lived in L.A. my whole life. Other than the crazy high cost of living here, I enjoy life here - especially since most of my family and friends live here, too. I have entertained the idea of possibly moving to another country or state, but only time will tell if that ever becomes a new chapter in my life.

KP: Do you have brothers and/or sisters? Are any of them musical, too?

EJ: I am the baby of the family and have two beautiful sisters. They are two of the most important people in my life and always will be. They are so loving, kind, and as far as I can tell they still enjoy being teased by their baby brother! I wouldn’t say that either of them are entirely musical, although both have shown an interest in singing - mostly as a hobby. Both of them are incredibly talented when it comes to art, drawing, painting and the like. Somewhere in the family genes I was blessed with the musical talent, but the genes responsible for sketching must have gotten lost because quite frankly I struggle to draw even stick figures! I do have my signature drawing of a chicken that I am quite proud of though, so at least there is that!

Any musical talent passed down in our family comes from our mother as she is a professional singer who toured the country back in the 70’s as a cast member of the hit production Hair. Originally from Michigan, it was my mother’s role as “Crissy” in Hair that brought her to California. She met my father shortly after she moved here.
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Earl with his mother and sisters.
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The whole Johnson Family.

Any time someone asked my father if he played any instruments, he would say that he played the bass. Then he would just turn up the bass volume on a stereo mixer and exclaim, “there is your bass!”

KP: Dad jokes! How old were you when you started playing the piano? How long did you take lessons?

EJ: As a kid, I played tenor saxophone as my first ever instrument. This was in 3rd-5th grades. Eventually I decided to stop playing the sax because it was too much effort for my little 5th grade self to constantly take it out of its giant case and screw all of its many parts together, just to break them all down again when done! So I searched for an instrument that just sat there. I wanted to play an instrument that required little to no maintenance, and one that was ready for me to enjoy at any moment. The piano was the instrument that became my hero!

At the age of twelve I begged my mother to find me a piano teacher, which she did. I took private lessons for five years from the world’s most patient piano teacher, Liz Joy. After being with her for all those years, my musical journey continued well into to college and beyond. I studied music theory, harmony, performance, music history, music engineering, and more with an emphasis on Music Education. For a musician, the journey to learn and master your craft never ends and I am still learning something new every single day!

KP: That is the truth! Were you encouraged to improvise or compose by your teachers? 

EJ: Yes! I recently visited my piano teacher, Liz Joy, after more than fifteen years of being out of contact with her! I was so excited to reach out to her, and just had to let her know that all of the efforts she poured into that young boy were not wasted. Those efforts blossomed in that young boy and inspired him to carry on the love of teaching others the art of piano, and also led him to compose works which landed him a spot on one of his favorite solo piano composer's radio station!

During my recent visit with her, I made it important business to compliment her on all the positive ways she had influenced me musically. One of those ways was her constant encouragement and diligence in providing feedback on my improvisations and compositions. Her encouraging words have never stopped resonating with me, as I can vividly remember her telling me often that not only could she see a future composer brewing inside of me, but that she believed I always had what it takes to make music for movies, video games, and television. What an awesome thing to hear from your piano teacher!

At the end of our visit, she once again assured me that she was so very proud of me. Even now, it still makes me feel honored to hear that from my piano teacher!

KP: Those relationships are so important. I've stayed in touch with a lot of my former students and absolutely love hearing from them!

Did you play in school orchestras or bands? 

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Earl and a student playing a duet.
EJ: Yes! In 3rd-5th grades, I played tenor saxophone for the school jazz and symphonic bands, and then in 7th-12th grades, I played piano for the chapel band. Having played in bands for so many years as kid, it made me appreciate and gravitate towards the solo piano aspect of what I do now. In a band, you have to speed up, slow down, grow louder or quieter, in unison with your bandmates (with a few exceptions here and there). To be honest, it just felt trapping to me. As a solo piano artist, it’s just me and the piano on stage. I can speed up, slow down, grow loud, get quiet, add notes, mix things up and shake things around at any moment with no consequence to anyone but myself! Simply put, playing solo piano is nothing short of a liberating experience.

KP: Did you enter any music competitions as a student?

EJ: Never for piano, but I did when for saxophone. In college, I took several music performance classes, but they never made us compete against each other. About four times per semester, we had to perform in front of all of the music professors as well as several hundred fellow students and take raw, unfiltered, and honest criticism from the audience. Some of the students had to endure some rather brutal feedback. I was lucky enough to have always been given positive comments and even on several occasions, I achieved the most treasured performance compliment a performer can ever receive, the standing ovation!

KP: On the subject of competitions, do you encourage your piano students to compete? I'm just curious.

EJ: In general, I do not force my students to compete, nor do I expect it of them. But that does not stop me from encouraging them to do so if they decide that is what they truly want.

I do regularly host piano recitals each year for my students. That way they have the opportunity to gain the invaluable experience of performing in front of others. After all, music is meant to be heard and shared! The sooner my students get used to this fact, the sooner they will grow to be that confident musician. I ask each student to play from one to four songs and many of them choose to do duets with either myself or with their siblings who may be taking piano lessons, too. Some students use the recital as an opportunity to sing while they play, and others play different instruments as a special performance at the end.

What is most exciting is that since I released my sheet music and songbooks, I now have students who want to learn and perform songs composed by their piano teacher. For the first time in my life, I get to experience other people playing my compositions! Words cannot explain how honored and overjoyed I feel to sit back and listen to pieces that I have created and love flowing from a student who is also growing in their instrument!

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Earl demonstrating some "merch."
KP: Do you play any other instruments besides piano, keyboards and sax?

EJ: About seven years ago, my father bought me an acoustic guitar for my twenty-fifth birthday. I will pick it up every so often and attempt to play a few tunes on it. Truth be told, I am probably better at singing in the shower than I am at playing the guitar - and I am no good at singing! I do plan to spend the time to properly learn guitar in the future, but in this moment, I am still busy with my many piano-related goals. I would also love to learn how to play the violin or cello, as those instruments are truly angelic, but that will likely be in another lifetime!

KP: How old were you when you wrote your first song?

EJ: I believe I was fourteen years old when I wrote my very first song on the piano. It was called "Rain" and began in the key of C major. It was nice and light in the beginning, emulating rain drops falling gently as the notes in the song descended from the top of the piano down towards the bottom. In the middle section, it modulated to the key of G minor, where it slowed down and grew very dark, switching back and forth between Eb Major 7th arpeggios and G minor arpeggios that were long and drawn out to indicate that huge storm clouds were approaching from the horizon. For the final section, the piece modulated into the key of C minor, where it had a driving tempo and played a minor scale pattern that mimicked a dark and heavy rain pouring down.

I remember working so hard on that piece, practicing it every single day for weeks on end, and I eventually played it for my family and friends any chance I got! In fact, I still remember how to play every note of that song. Maybe one day I will record it and release it on my website.

Interestingly enough, I actually remember how to play the next two songs I created when I was a kid. "Ragtastic" was a little ragtime piece, only about 45 seconds in duration. My third song was called "Hourglass" and was centered around the use of numerous hand crossovers that would flow up and down the piano emulating sand traveling through an hourglass that was being flipped over again and again.

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I didn’t start composing seriously until I was twenty-three years old, which was when I recorded my first album, Reflections.

KP: Did you play with any rock bands in high school and/or college?

EJ: The only rock bands I ever played in were the video games called “Rock Band” and “Guitar Hero” where you used a fake guitar-shaped controller to press the notes. Honestly, those games really did a great job to make you feel like you were totally rocking out and playing your favorite guitar songs for a cheering crowd! I actually got pretty good at those games, too! Maybe it was because the buttons on the guitar controller were actually sort of shaped like piano keys.

KP: When did you know that you wanted to be a professional musician? Did your parents object?

EJ: Even before I took my first piano lesson, I had this powerful feeling that the piano was going be a huge part of my life, although I was unsure of in exactly what way. As a kid, I remember gazing at the piano, not knowing how to play a single note, and just smiling at it while feeling warm and excited at the idea of one day being able to play it! At the age of twelve, I did not know that I was going to become a piano teacher, a composer, or a solo piano performer. A few years later the thought of “what if I make my own sheet music someday?” entered, but that, too, was only a dream and seemed like something “only a grown-up can do.” I somehow always just “knew” even without knowing, if that even makes sense, and my life continued to bring this path to light each day.

My parents, family, and friends never objected to me playing the piano, and my family was especially supportive. My father used to tell me how proud he was for the way I was advancing in my lessons. It made him happy, and he said that “paying for all these expensive lessons is going to good use!” Before he passed away in 2020, he told me again that he had always been proud of my piano playing, and he reassured me that I could accomplish anything that I set my heart to do. Not only does my mom support my music, being that she is both a singer-songwriter and a guitar player, but she still cries anytime she hears my song “Catching Grace.” Whenever she listens to a new release, I can always expect a phone call from her telling me specifically what she likes about my pieces, whether it’s a particular chord change, a melodic pattern, a fermata that she finds interesting, or what have you. I have always been blessed to have such a supportive network of people in my life, whom I appreciate more than they will ever know.
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Earl's senior picture.

KP: When did you start playing professionally?

EJ: At the age of seventeen, I had my first gig performing for my high school English teacher's (Mrs. Haag) wedding. Since then, I have been playing for weddings, baby dedications, accompanying singers, performing at various gigs such as dinner parties, birthday parties, and for corporate events. The more often I performed, the more people I would meet. The more people I met, the more future opportunities would open up - and they still do.

In reality, I would say that I have considered myself to be “good” at the piano since the age of seventeen, although I did not consider myself to be a professional until I was twenty-nine. There has been a significant growth in my knowledge of the instrument, the techniques I apply, and all of the experience I have acquired since finishing college. I also had more than a decade of piano teaching experience at that point in my life, so I knew I was ready. Of course, it didn’t hurt that David Nevue welcomed me as a Whisperings Artist!

I want to be clear that I did not say any of this to brag, as I am genuinely beyond excited to be in this position, and I'm somebody who actually values anyone's successes and accomplishments. The reality is that I am still a small fish in a large pond. It is just nice to be able to take a moment to appreciate these things, as I have worked so hard to get to this point. I still have bigger dreams though, and there is still so much to accomplish!

KP: Very inspiring! Who or what are your biggest musical influences?

EJ: I have to say the person who has had the biggest influence in my life is David Nevue since he showed me, even at a young age, that someone can make sheet music, release albums, start their own radio station, and follow their dreams. It was so very important for me to see someone carving their own path, and without him, I may have never believed in this journey, at least not in the same way.

Another major influence in my life, which comes as a surprise to some people, is video game music. Seriously, you would be amazed at just how many masterpieces exist within the world of video games! I understand that it's funny to think that in a simple Mario level, where all the character does is run and jump, that there could be this incredible piece of music accompanying simple actions. I often hear people dismissing video games and putting others down for playing them, which just breaks my piano heart. How unfortunate for someone to do that, because if nothing else, they are truly limiting themselves from exposure to easily some of the greatest songs ever composed.

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Earl with fans at his first solo piano concert.

KP: Interesting! Have you done any composing for films and TV?

EJ: If you count my 9th grade horror film festival project, The Babysitter, then yes! Otherwise the answer is "no, not yet." My next dream-come-true would be to turn on a movie or tv show on a popular streaming platform like Netflix, Amazon, or Disney and hear one of my compositions! That would be the most incredible experience!

With that said, I am composing my next album, Love & Loss, with the same intensity as if it were to be a future resumé for scoring movies and tv shows. I figure that since I desire to compose for large productions, then I need to be composing songs I whole-heartedly believe deserve to be heard in a movie or on television. Therefore, any song on this new album will reflect that standard.

KP: What has been your most exciting musical moment or experience so far?

EJ: Wow, it is so hard to choose one moment! I will say that my top three moments so far have been my acceptance onto the Whisperings Radio Station, my very first international book sale, and my very first solo piano concert. Each of those moments have provided excitement unlike anything else. Furthermore, for each of those events, you better believe I was quite literally jumping for joy afterwards!

I still remember when I got the email from David Nevue saying that I was going to be featured on his radio station. It was first thing in the morning. I had just opened my eyes and was still in bed when I started to read his acceptance email. After a few sentences into the email and realizing what was happening, I immediately sprung out of bed and started doing a victory dance! There were many phone calls to my family and friends to tell them the good news!

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The concert setting in daylight.
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More concert photos.
The experience of my first solo piano concert will always be a precious moment in my life. It was a backyard concert at the beautiful house of one of my piano families. The father had spent over a decade renovating the backyard in order to host events, so you can imagine that the landscaping was spectacular! The piano was situated next to a beautiful waterfall that overlooked a hillside covered with plants, palm trees, and flowers, with a rock slide that lead into the pool down below. There were tiki torches, umbrellas that featured colored lights that hung over the lounge chairs, an entire cocktail table area, an outdoor kitchen, and even water misters placed throughout the property in case it got too hot outside. I had the support of over one hundred fans in the audience - family, friends, friends of friends, neighbors, and the like - all there to see and hear me play! I was also blessed to have my very own sponsor! She was a wonderful woman who runs a business that specializes in preparing professional hors d'oeuvres. She provided all the fancy food for the audience members to enjoy during the performance. For the concert, I played eighteen original songs from my first three albums. The event started in the early evening when it was still light, and went into the starry night sky. It was stunning! After the performance was done, I then hosted a fun raffle for people to win anything from souvenir shirts, sweatshirts, coffee mugs, beanies, blankets, canvas wall art, to songbooks, albums, gift cards to my website, and so much more. It was an experience I will never forget, and I can’t wait until the next one!

KP: I wish I was closer so I could come, too! Are there any specific pieces of yours that you feel say the most about who you are as a person? Any favorites, if they aren’t the same pieces?

EJ: The song "Distant Spirit" definitely says a lot about who I am as a person. It was composed shortly after my father unexpectedly passed away in August of 2020. Being that I am the only son in the family, when he died it felt like a light switch had instantly flipped from the “off” position to the “on” position. Not only is it up to me to keep the Johnson name moving forward, it also made me think about how people would remember me. Would they remember me as a good person? Someone with a sense of humor? An ambitious person?

When I think about how I wish to be remembered, I wish for one of those things to be for my interest in music and for the compositions I worked so hard to craft. That way, when it is my turn to become that “Distant Spirit,” someone who has never met me will at least know that this man took an interest in composing solo piano music. If anyone listens to the song "Distant Spirit," they will hear that it is filled with raw emotion. I never could have healed the same way if it weren’t for the piano being an outlet to express my feelings.

I have too many favorite songs to list them all, but some of them (so far) include "Winter Waltz," "Bernard’s Castle," "When the Fog Comes," "Dark Heart," "Field of Flowers," "Waking the Fireflies," "Streetlights," "Galaxy," and every single song on my new album not yet released! People tell me all the time which song happens to be their favorite, and I can confidently say that the one song people tell me most often that they love is "Mouse Musette"!

KP: That really is a fun piece! Is there a particular philosophy that you try to convey in your music?

EJ: Absolutely. First and foremost, I never force the music out of me. I believe that the best music is created organically and in harmony with one's musical heart. If the artist is not feeling their own song, then neither will their listeners. I believe that the songs should portray emotion. A song filled with emotions is far more interesting than one that sounds robotically monotonous with no purpose or meaning.

I also believe that the best pieces of media are more often than not, those which are both light and dark, good and bad, happy and sad. The best operas, books, plays, movies, tv shows, you name it, tend to not side one way or the other. If a movie is purely happy throughout the entire time, then there will be no conflict or drama, and there will never be the reward of any resolve. Not to say that there is never a time or place for something so "feel-goody" though. On the flip side, imagine a movie that is purely dark and evil. It becomes too much of a bad thing and needs to be balanced. Even food is better when balanced in this way: sweet and sour, spicy and mild, salt and pepper, and so on. The same is true for music, and I make sure to convey that philosophy in my works either in an individual song or in a large collection of songs. If I were to only compose pieces that were happy, then you would most likely lose interest, and the same is true if I only composed songs that were purely dark. (If that happened then fans would probably start writing to me asking if everything was ok!)

Human beings are complex creatures, neither purely one thing nor another, and that is actually what makes us so fascinating! This same phenomenon is true with the music we enjoy, and listeners will find signs of such juxtapositions throughout my works if they pay careful attention.

KP: Who are your favorite composers and/or performers?

EJ: Oh man, there are seriously so many great composers for various reasons. Chopin is easily my favorite composer from what seems like the ancient past. My favorite piece by him is "Nocturne Opus 9. No 2 in C# minor."

Another favorite composer of mine is Jerry Martin, best known for having created the music for the popular video game called The Sims. I remember when I played that game as a kid and heard all the different piano pieces he created for the first time and being in absolute awe of what my ears were experiencing. There are six songs from him called "Build Themes #1-6" which play anytime you enter “build mode” to construct your house in that game. Legend has it that Jerry Martin went into the studio and improvised those songs on the spot! If you ever get a chance to listen to them, you will hear just how wonderfully spectacular they all are, and how impressive it is to have improvised such masterpieces!

A fun little fact is that as a kid I made it my mission to one day learn to play those songs! As of today, I have mastered playing all but one of the pieces which happens to be "Build Theme #5." I will eventually learn it, too.

KP: How long have you been a piano teacher?

EJ: I have been teaching since the age of seventeen. It all started when one of my high school classmates asked me to teach him a song. Of course, I wanted to spend time with him to help him learn to play it! The song he wanted to learn happened to be my favorite Chopin piece, "Nocturne Opus 9 No. 2 in C# minor." Being that my friend had never taken lessons, that song was definitely above his skill level at the time, but that did not stop him from wanting to be able to play it! We diligently worked on that song every day, making sure he was using the correct fingers to hit the correct notes and at the correct times. After a few months of working with him every day after school, he was finally able to play the song! Excitedly, he showed off his brand new song to our friends, different teachers at the school, and to his family. Naturally people would ask him, “how did you learn that?!” and he replied that he had been learning it with me. One thing led to another, and from then on, people began to ask me to teach them how to play piano.

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Audience at the solo concert.
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Concert raffle prizes!
KP: How many students do you have now?

EJ: I am approaching seventy students! I remember when I first started teaching and only had one student. I would wonder, “wow, what if I had ten students?!” Reaching ten students seemed like an astronomical number. Fast forward to now, and I am finding that having at or around seventy students is reaching the peak. For the first time in my life, people are asking for lessons and I actually have to put them on a waiting list until something opens up! I feel so bad because I wish that they could learn to love and enjoy piano with me right away!

KP: What do you like to do in your free time, or do you have any?

EJ: Most of my free time is actually used for composing music! As you know having been a piano teacher yourself, having close to seventy students does not leave you with a lot of free time. I have to be very diligent and precise in the amount of time I spend on composing, let alone practicing and working on what my students are learning so I can show them how to play a particular song or exercise. I teach Monday-Friday and have the weekends off. So on Monday, I begin to think of an idea for a song, usually while I am teaching my students (but don’t tell them that!). Throughout the week I will ponder this idea and explore it a bit on the piano at night before bed. I continue to use the night time during the week to explore that idea, or to explore a different idea that hopefully I find interesting enough to expand upon come the weekend. I also spend a good portion of the weekend visiting my family and friends, playing basketball, going out to see a movie, or going to the beach etc.

KP: If you could have any three wishes, what would they be?

EJ: My first wish would have to be the ability to travel to other planets and explore space freely without consequence! I am incredibly fascinated with space! How could you not be? Once you learn how many stars, moons, planets, solar systems, and galaxies are out there, and just how astronomically HUGE our observable universe is, it becomes absolutely mind boggling - but in the best way possible! There are quite literally billions upon billions of other worlds out there that we will never get to explore simply because space is too incredibly vast and hostile to our fragile bodies. It would be an experience beyond all words to have the opportunity to visit such places.

My second wish would be the superpower of never forgetting what I have practiced on the piano! I cannot tell you how many songs I have practiced and mastered, and in just a few months completely forgot how to play! Ugh, so frustrating! How nice it would be if the time we spent practicing was permanent. Playing piano, or any instrument for that matter, is truly “use it or lose it!”

KP: You could become a gazillionaire if you figure that one out!

EJ: I know, right? My third wish is a non-selfish one. I would wish that people were able to follow their dreams. People say all the time that they want to do something special or accomplish a specific goal, yet they never even attempt to go after it. They say they don’t have the time, the talent, the money, the connections, or any other excuse imaginable. I sincerely wish everyone could not only follow their dreams and pursue their passions, but to also act on their ambitions in order to make their aspirations sprout to life. While I do not have the power nor a genie to make this wish come true, I do have the best advice I can give to anyone when it comes to achieving their dreams. If you do not even attempt to accomplish your goal, then you have already failed. With this knowledge, we may as well go after it as hard as we can! Honestly, the worst that can happen if we try is that we could fail, but simply the act of not trying is of itself a failure. So I say go after your dreams to the best of your ability and beyond! That way if you do end up failing, it's better to know the outcome instead of always having to wonder “what could have been.” At the very least, you have gifted yourself the opportunity to succeed.

KP: Great advice! Is there anything else you'd like to talk about?

EJ: I just want to thank you for the pleasant opportunity to have this interview with you, Kathy! I am excited to see what wonderful opportunities the future has in store for my piano music, and I will continue to enjoy this journey every step of the way! Again, I want to thank David Nevue for being such an amazing person, and for accepting me into Whisperings. Lastly, I want to thank all the wonderful people who support my music and say whether you are listening to one of my songs, sharing a favorite song with someone, attending a concert, buying an album, sheet music, songbook, merch, or even taking piano lessons with me, that I appreciate you more than you can ever know, and that I look forward to creating even more compositions to brighten your world!
Many thanks to Earl Johnson for sharing his musical world with us! For more information about Earl and his music, be sure to visit his website and his Artist Page here on MainlyPiano.com.
Kathy Parsons
February 2023