Bachelor’s Degree, Piano Performance and Contemporary Improvisation
New England Conservatory
Classical and Jazz
I am a pianist, songwriter, and teacher that graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Piano Performance/Contemporary Improvisation from New England Conservatory. I’ve been studying piano since I was seven years old, and attended Laguardia High School in New York City, where I studied piano performance as well.
I’ve played as a sideman and performer with the legendary “Losers Lounge” series at Joe’s Pub (2014 onward). As a student of the Paul Green School of Rock Allstars, I’ve had experience performing and touring with artists such as Jon Anderson of Yes and Napoleon Murphy Brock of Frank Zappa’s band. I’ve played my original music at the Stone, Highline Ballroom, the Knitting Factory, CBGB’s, and the Bitter End, and as a sideman in festivals such as Lollapalooza, Austin City Limits, and Zappanale. My debut solo album, “Intimate Machinery,” came out in December 2017. I am a firm believer of the power of using one’s ear while learning music, and have studied extensively with both jazz and classical teachers.
When did you begin playing Piano, and why?
I’ve been studying piano since I was seven years old. My grandmother got me a keyboard for Christmas and I was eager to learn how to use it.
What other instruments do you play, and what is your experience with them?
I sing and play a little drums, but piano is my primary instrument.
What are your personal goals as a musician?
I hope to one day have my own home studio, where I can record original music and the music of others.
Do you have a memory of a time when a musical concept or technique really clicked? Something you’ll remember forever?
I remember the first time I felt comfortable improvising. I was at a music camp in New Jersey, and it was over the jazz standard “Beatrice.” I began to realize that relying on scales for everything was not the key to improvising.
What is your favorite piece of advice from one of your past (or current) teachers?
“Use your ear, and try and teach others through verbal and musical communication as a opposed to paper.” -NEC Teacher Hankus Netsky
What was your most challenging moment learning an instrument?
Making the transition from keyboard to piano.
What is your biggest musical achievement?
Recording and releasing my first album of all originals.
Favorite thing about teaching?
Watching a student achieve the same kind of wonder I did when a new musical concept is mastered.
What is a piece of advice you would like to share with anyone learning music?
Try and write your own music. Even if you are too shy to show others, learning how to do this is a valuable skill.
Personal music projects:
You can find all of my original music, as well as videos of me playing the piano, at my website: Damonisaacsmith.com