I remember as a really small child, maybe around the age of five, my older sister and brother would practice their piano lessons and I would love to sit down and listen. I wanted to be like them so badly that I begged my parents to let me take lessons as well. They figured I was too young but thought they should give it a shot anyway. So at age six I was taking piano lessons.
I never really liked piano lessons. During practices I would pick up my legs and see how many times I could spin around the piano bench with one push. I went through three piano teachers from the age of six to sixteen because I was not a very good student in their eyes. I also never really cared if I was the top piano player or not. Then, around fourteen, I began writing my own music. The very first song I wrote was a simple version of Humble Beginnings. I was pretty proud of that song, mainly because my mom was proud of it. During social gatherings she would always (and still does) push me up to the piano and rave about my talents. I would get up there and perform for anyone who cared to listen. When I was done, I thought everyone was being polite when they told me what a great job I did so I really didn't think much of it.
Through my teenage years, I fell in love and had my heart broken a few times. These events really laid the foundation for some of my most personal works. In that time, I created in my head how I thought a song should sound but I could never play it just right. I remember getting so frustrated with myself because my brain wanted my music to go faster and progress in a certain way but my fingers wouldn't let it.
The first time I realized that I had any skill was when I was sixteen. I just got kicked out of my parents house (another story all in it's self) and went to live with my older sister. She was working at one of those bars/restaurants attached to a Holiday Inn and she got me in to play one night for tips. I was pretty scared because I had never received any feedback on my music other than from my family and friends. As I played, there was a silence that came over that place; everyone just stopped talking and listened. It was really weird because I didn't expect that sort of impact right away. I think I walked away with over 100 bucks in tips that night! I moved back in with my parents less than a week later. They didn't approve of me playing in places that served alcohol, so that was the end of that, but it was a real confidence booster for years to come.
I went off into the Marines a month after I turned eighteen and kind of gave up on piano for a while. I would play a bit here and there at the chapel or the enlisted club but just as a way to soothe my mind, not as a time to improve. At one point I had an entertainment lawyer approach me at an enlisted club where I was playing. She told me that I was going to make it big someday and then she handed me her card so I could contact her when I did. There were times when I would have a flicker of hope that someday I could do amazing things with my music, but I mostly thought of piano as a hobby and not really a profession.
With one year left on my military contract, I bought an old Yamaha from a pawn shop and started focusing on picking up the speed of my music. I would do drills with my left hand, going up and down the keyboard but never really caring if I got the notes right. One day I went up to my best friend’s house in Hollywood with my keyboard to write some music with his girlfriend. Her mom, who was a talent agent for various actors in the area, was there and she immediately fell in love with my music. The next day we went into the studio to record a demo. The demo wasn't very well done but it was the first time my music was recorded so I could actually critique myself. About a week later war broke out and I was sent to Kuwait. I took my demo along and listened to it over and over. I started to realize how complex my music was and began to wonder how the hell I did some of that stuff.
Three months later I was back home in the good ol' US of A!! I bought a Yamaha Motif 8 with most of the money that I saved during the war, but still had no direction or faith in my music. I felt as though I was tricking people into believing I was a great piano player. I got out of the Marine Corps a few months later and moved back to MI with my beautiful fiancé and her boy. We got married and got crappy jobs and I pretty much gave up on my music completely. Then one day my mom called me up and wanted me to come over so we could talk. She made me an offer that I would be stupid to refuse. She told me she would pay me whatever my job was paying me to stay home and record an album. I love you mom!! Three months later, and too many technical problems to count, Harmony In Disarray was born.