New music!

This morning I woke up to these birds chirping a sweet little melody, and I got all inspired! I pulled out my iPod and composed this little ditty while in bed 🙂 I even took a sample of the birds and used it in the recording. Hope you enjoy it!

 

Black Music History Facts: Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis

Hello!

I know it’s been a few days since my last post. I was a bit under the weather, please forgive me. 😔

But I’m back! For today’s post of black music history fun facts, we have the amazing songwriting and music production team, Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis! When I think of 80s and 90s R&B, they’re who I think of. They helped to make some of your favorite R&B hits, and if you don’t know about them…it’s time!

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  • James Samual “Jimmy Jam” Harris III and Terry Steven Lewis have been making hit after hit since 1982.
  • Jimmy Jam is the son of famous Minneapolis jazz and blues musician, Cornbread Harris.
  • Harris and Lewis met in high school in Minneapolis and formed a band called, Flyte Tyme, which became The Time.
  • Morris Day joined them in ’81 and they toured with Prince.
  • They produced their first record for the SOS Band.
  • They were known for being one of the few who used the Roland TR-808 drum machine
  • They produced Janet Jackson’s breakthrough album, Control in ’86. (Won a Grammy)
  • In ’89, they hit it again with Janet Jackson’s Rhythm Nation 1814 (4 Billboard Hot 100 No. 1 hits)
  • In 1990 Jam And Lewis recorded “Pandemonium” with The Time, which was released on Prince’s Paisley Park Records.
  • In 2005, they opened up their recording studios in Sana Monica, Flyte Tyme West.
  • They have 31 top ten hits on the charts in the US and the UK
  • Acts they’re associated with: The Time, Prince, Janet Jackson, Michael Jackson, The SOS Band, Boyz II Men, Usher, Rod Stewart, Mariah Carey, Chaka Khan, New Edition, Patti LaBelle, and more!

    Here’s a short interview:

    And a playlist of some of their hits: 

Black Music History Facts: William Grant Still

Hey hey!

It’s day 2 of Black History Month, and I’m back with more black music history fun facts!

William Grant Stills is a classical composer and gas had major orchestras play his compositions. He was a trailblazer for the African Americans in the world of classical music.

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  • Born May 11, 1895 in Woodville, Mississippi
  • He started taking violin lessons at the age of 15. He then taught himself clarinet, saxophone, oboe, double bass, cello, and viola (He was pretty amazing, no?)
  • Still actually went on to Wilberforce University to pursue a Bachelor of Science degree.
  • He conducted the band at his university and started composing and orchestrating…all while teaching himself to play more instruments.
  • Received a scholarship to study at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music.
  • He was a student of George Whitefield Chadwick and later Edgard Varèse. (Both were composers/musicians)
  • Worked as an arranger for popular music
  • Played in the pit for various musicals
  • In 1934, we starting writing his first opera. He went on to write 8 operas.
  • In 1949 his opera, Troubled Island, was performed by the New York City Opera. It was the first opera by an African American to be performed by a major company.
  • He went on to conduct the New Orleans Philharmonic in 1955. He was the first African American to conduct a major orchestra in the south.
  • He was also the first African American to have an opera performed on television in the US. A Bayou Legend premiered on PBS in 1981.

Afro-American Symphony – I. Moderato Assai

This symphony was the first one written by an African American and performed in the US by a major orchestra. As you’ll hear, this piece has classical and blues elements. The best of both worlds!

 

 

 

Black Music History Facts: Lena Horne

Happy Black History Month!

I love history, I love music, and I love my fellow black folks 🙂

Every day this month, I’ll be posting black music history fun facts. Today’s feature is the amazing, elegant, and strong, Lena Horne.

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  • Born June 30th, 1917.
  • She was in the Chorus line of the Cotton Club when she was 16.
  • Moved to Hollywood and started playing small roles in films, then moved on to bigger roles in 1943 (Cabin in the Sky and Stormy Weather)
  • First African-American signed to a long-term studio contract
  • She was one of the first to work on both sides of the “color line”. She sang with both white and black swing and jazz groups.
  • She was blacklisted as a Communist because of her participation in the Civil Rights Movement and her friendship with Paul Robeson and W.E.B. DuBois, who were activists.
  • Received Honorary Doctorate from Howard University in 1980
  • Her career spanned over 70 years
  • More of a random fact….she guest starred on The Cosby Show and A Different World back in the 80s and 90s (two of my favorite shows haha)

– Bri

Holiday Student Feature: Brianna L.

Happy Holidays!

It may be a few days after Christmas, but it’s still the holiday season.

You may remember Brianna from my first student feature, she’s a voice student of mine. Here we are singing a duet of Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas. We had about 2 weeks to crank it out, and it was a lot of fun! Hope you all enjoy and have a happy holiday 🙂

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Holiday Student Feature: Shiloh and Levi

Happy holidays, everybody!

Tonight (Christmas eve), I’ll be posting all my amazing students playing some holiday favorites. The first one is a two for one deal, Levi and Shiloh! They’re brother and sister, and some of the smartest, talented, and kindest kids I know. I’ve been teaching them for about 4 months, and they’ve learned so much in that short amount of time. I hope you enjoy what they’ve prepared for you 🙂

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Levi decided he wanted to play a duet with me, and we chose Deck the Halls. Levi is 10 years old and an advanced beginner.

 

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Shiloh played Jolly Old St. Nicholas. She’s 5 years old, and a beginner.

Sunday Student Features: William T.

Hello and Happy Halloween!

This week for my Sunday Student Feature, I present to you my classical piano student, William (Will)! He’s a very intelligent, eager, headstrong and talented 13-year-old. He’s been taking piano with me for about 6 months. He’s one of the few students I have that genuinely love Classical music. He’s very eager to learn as much as he can about it. He had already taught himself quite a bit before we met and he’s also great at playing by ear. What we mostly work on in our lessons are technique and reading music. Will has also expressed an interest in composing, which I am very excited to work on more with him as time goes on. This young man is a very hard worker and has an insane amount of potential. As I say about all my students, it’s truly a privilege to be a part of his musical journey, and I hope it takes him far 🙂

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William chose to play an excerpt from the First Movement of Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata”. He only had the piece for a couple of weeks prior to filming this video. Being a student in all AP classes and balancing piano lessons, is not an easy task. But Will rose to the occasion, and I am very proud of him and the progress he’s made!

– Bri

 

Sunday Student Feature! (Brianna L.)

Hey there!

Welcome to the first “Sunday Student Feature”!  I’m going to feature a student every week showcasing a different piece or song that they’ve been working on in their lessons.

This week we have Brianna L.! Brianna is a voice student of mine, who I’ve been teaching for over a year now through TakeLessons. She’s one of the kindest, driven, and talented people I’ve met. Being a fellow Midwesterner, we’ve been able to get along fine 😉


I’ve really enjoyed being a part of Brianna’s musical journey; it’s a privilege, really. I love what I do, and I love when I can see and hear the improvement in a student. Brianna is a hard worker, and I’m excited to share her progress with you all!

Here’s a quick blurb from Brianna herself: “My name is Brianna Labrier, I’m 21 years old and I’m from St. Louis Missouri. I love to sing and would love to make a career out of it. My favorite singers are Christina Aguilera and Alicia Keys, I’ve always looked up to both of them. I love taking lessons with Brianna S because she not only helps me improve my voice but she also helps me push out of my comfort zone, which gives me the confidence to go on auditions and sing in front of people more often.”

Here’s Brianna with “Sunday Morning” by Maroon 5

P.S. She basically taught herself the chords/piano for this song all in about a week and a half while I was out after wisdom teeth surgery. Pretty impressive 🙂

 

Welcome!

Hey there, and welcome to my first blog post!

I started this blog to have a place to write about all the crazy, funny, inspiring, and sometimes a bit disappointing experiences I have had teaching music lessons and working in music here in Los Angeles. I figured this was a better venue than typing out Facebook statuses that are 5 paragraphs long haha.I also wanted a place to feature my amazing and talented students! Be on the look out for the first student feature videos within the next few weeks. I will also post various projects I’m working on.

I absolutely love music, it is my passion. It’s about 90% of my life, really. The other 10% is pop culture, hair, crochet/knitting, and food 🙂 I have been surrounded by music since before I was born. I started singing in choirs from age 3, piano at 7, and joined the school band in 5th grade and began my journey into percussion. I graduated from North Central College with a B.A. in music. My emphasis was in Music Composition and Percussion Performance.  I have been teaching music lessons (voice, piano, drums/percussion, and music theory) for a little over 2 years. I started a few months before  I moved to Los Angeles from Chicago. Since then, I have been fortunate enough to gain and keep students, several composition and vocal recording gigs, an internship at Comma Music, and a spot in the Cinema Scoring program playing percussion. I love my work, and I feel so blessed and grateful to have been able to accomplish what I have so far.

I’ve recently started a Facebook and Youtube channel where I’ll post updates and various pieces and projects I work on. I will try to post weekly, if not every 2 weeks. You can also find a link to my website where you can find more info on me and book a lesson with me.

Last week, I put out a cover of an Adele song that is my new favorite from her new album, “All I Ask”. It’s such a pretty song and she has so much passion and power behind her voice. I had to cover it! I decided to arrange my own track as well. It’s a simple arrangement (much like the original) with piano, strings, and some synth in the bass. I arranged, recorded, and mixed it all using Ableton Live 9. Check out the audio from my Soundcloud and the video via YouTube!

All I Ask – Adele (Cover by Bri Simmons)

Book A Lesson With Me!

– Bri