We had a few moments to sit down with Ontario’s own Ian Green. Can you give us a little biographical information about yourself?
I have been playing the piano since the age of 5 years old. In my teenaged years, I had the privilege of participating in a variety of musical ensembles in high-school such as concert band (I played trombone); I was also the piano accompanist for the high-school concert choir. By the time I reached the age of 17, I completed the professional performance diploma for piano through the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto, Ontario. This achievement inspired me to apply to study music at the university level. In 2006, I graduated from Queen`s University in Kingston, Ontario with a Bachelor of Music degree.
Since 2006, my career has grown in a variety of angles. I am a small business owner (Music By Ian Green Inc) in which I teach music lessons, adjudicate at music festivals, compose music for commissions, perform at live events, work as a recording artist, and work as a busy piano accompanist. I am also training to be a member of the College of Examiners with The Royal Conservatory of Music, Toronto, Ontario.
I also enjoy volunteering my time for a variety of music organizations such as the Ontario Registered Music Teachers` Association (ORMTA) in which I am Communications Manager for the province of Ontario.
In my personal life, I am enjoying raising two children with my wife.
In a related vein, what sort of set up (recording devices, overall ambiance) do you utilize when you capture your music for a larger audience?
I enjoy performing in a variety of live music settings. For performances in which equipment is provided off site, I use a Yamaha P95 keyboard, Fishman sound system, and iPad (with over 6,500 pieces of music stored in Dropbox folders). I have a good friend that I work with on recording projects that owns his own recording studio. For live piano recordings, I prefer a grand piano. At my home studio, I own a Young Chang 5`4 baby grand piano yet I aspire to own a Yamaha or Steinway grand piano someday. I have an interest in always acquiring new gadgets, and have acquired a Go Pro Hero camera for video blogs as well as an iPad for various musical uses.
How can listeners listen to your music?
Fans can watch my youtube channel www.youtube.com/user/iangreen271, I enjoy uploading new content on a regular basis. As well, fans can follow me on twitter twitter.com/iangreen27 or visit my website: www.musicbyiangreen.com
My album Starlight is available here: itunes.apple.com/ca/album/starlight/id991180080
You wear many hats, performing as well as teaching. How is the act of playing music different than teaching others to play?
The act of teaching music is very different than playing music. When I play music, it feels like breathing, it feels natural, like something that I was meant to do. I believe that we all have musical abilities and talents inside. It is the duty of a good, dedicated teacher to help the student to embrace this inner ability. This takes a considerable amount of time, patience, and understanding. When I teach, I have to think about all of the aspects of music and performing that come naturally to me and think about how I can put these ideas into words. It is like trying to explain to someone how to ride a bike. First, you put the training wheels on the bike and let the rider use these for a while. After the training wheels have been used for some time, you create a loose grip on the training wheels to allow the bike rider to feel what it is like to balance on the bike. After a little while, the training wheels come off and the bike rider must trust the help of another person to help them balance on the bike. After some practice, the bike rider becomes more and more confident to enjoy riding and before long, they are riding on their own.
A similar analogy can be said of music lessons. The teacher must first offer the student a fun atmosphere that is comfortable, but after some time, the student will want to learn and the desire to learn will come naturally. The teacher is always there to guide the direction of the learning of the student, yet it is the student that must put in the work if they are to improve in their skills.
Being a music teacher is not for the faint of heart, it is not for everyone. I know that it takes a lot of practice to be a good teacher, there is a lot of personal growth that must come from within the teacher before there can be any success in the music lessons. Personally, I find that teaching music lessons is one of the most fulfilling aspects of my career. I enjoy playing for live shows, but to see the look on a students` face when they have completed something that they thought wasn`t possible prior, that is priceless.
What sort of other pursuits do your busy yourself with? Can you provide any additional information about MyMuCo and MMVB?
MyMuCo is a technology start-up company that I have co-founded with two other partners. The first product that we are working on is an app system for iPads in which the music teacher and the music student. Technology is a way of life for this current generation of music students, we have come up with an amazing opportunity to reach the average music student with a fun and interactive tool that tracks the progress of the daily practicing of each student as well as offer an excellent means for music teachers to remain motivated and engaged in the preparation and execution of lessons.
To learn more, please visit www.mymuco.com
MMVB is an acronym for Music Matters Video Blog. This is a video blog that I created this year on my website www.musicbyiangreen.com. On the video blog, I answer a variety of questions that are asked in my daily music education practice. To see examples of the video blog: musicbyiangreen.com/vlog/
Starlight is your new album. What compositions are your favorites on the album, and what about these efforts put them at such a high plateau?
My favorite composition on Starlight is the song Starlight. “Starlight”, is the title track of the album. A main aspect of all of my live performances is the element of surprise and creative spirit that comes from playing a piece of music in a completely improvised fashion. The idea for this piece kept recurring when I was playing at a variety of events. I had to go home and write down the chord progression and develop the ideas further. There is a longing and desire for searching for knowledge that comes in all scientific exploration. We know where we come from and are always discovering new and exciting ideas every day. There is a sense of excitement for the future that sings out in this piece.
A second favorite piece is the song “A Peaceful Event” is a piece of music that explores the various areas of space that can occur within a musical structure. There is space all around us in our daily lives yet at times we can tend to get caught up in the daily routine and neglect to take time to enjoy the spaces that we live and work in. The “peaceful event” within the music is created through the open chord structures presented as well as long phrases and sustained notes.
A third favorite piece is the song “Snowfall” is a sister piece to “A Peaceful Event”. There is much time and space created within the structure. The piece is written in A B A form in which an opening section returns later in the piece. There is an intentional reversal of ideas within the repeated A section, this creates a mirrored effect to the audience. There are gently falling snowflakes envisioned within the theme. The middle section of the piece is inspired by the calming scenery of a forest covered in freshly fallen snow at dusk.
A little bit of an aside, what two or three composers/artists would constitute a “dream lineup” for you to play alongside? What role does each act hold in the creation of your inimitable sound?
What a great question! I would have to say, it would be amazing to perform with Miles Davis, John Coltrane, and have a piece written for us by the amazing composer Claude Debussy. I am, and always will be, a huge fan of Impressionistic music. There is so much lush character and intrigue in the new sounds that Debussy and his counterparts created; a lot of sounds that were very foreign to the listening public of his time. Miles Davis, the true Cool Jazz musician, had a great ear for lines and for creating moody and introspective sounds in his improvisations. It is said that he not only influenced those that he worked with regarding their musical sound, he also helped to shape his prodigies to enjoy listening to music with new ears to sounds that were taken for granted.
John Coltrane had a distinct sound on the saxophone; I believe that he thought of the saxophone as a person with feelings, ambition, and a story to tell. He not only played amazing lines and wrote some class pieces, he allowed the instrument to sing and become its own personality. That influence, allowing an instrument to become its own personality, is something that I strive to complete whenever I sit at the piano.
What does the rest of 2015 hold for you – any live dates or new sides to your online persona that our readers at NeuFutur should know about?
I am very excited to be a headline musician for the Niagara Falls Jazz Festival in July, 2015. As well, I am working with a variety of singer-songwriters (separately in New Jersey and California) on a variety of collaborations to be released later in 2015. As a part of a personal vacation, I will be playing at the MAP café and lounge while on vacation in London, England later in June, 2015. There are some other performances in Europe that I am currently working out the details with, stay tuned!
On the creative front, I am going to begin working on a cello sonata for piano and cello while visiting Europe; I will also continue working on a variety of solo piano pieces for an upcoming second album of solo piano music.
I am very fortunate to be a regular musician at AG Inspired Cuisine in Niagara Falls, Ontario. AG Inspired Cuisine is a lovely restaurant that serves delicious, locally grown food, has a cool atmosphere, and a live music lounge.
I am sure that other projects will come my way, I am always grateful for all opportunities that come across my desk.
Do you have any tips for musicians at the beginning of their career who are looking to release music?
The best advice that I can give to any aspiring musician and artist is to believe in the art that they are creating and to believe in them. There are many different types of people in the world. As such, there are also many demands and interests that each individual person has. Not all musical styles are for everyone yet there is a niche that is carved out and an audience that is carved out for all musical genres. The most authentic artists that I have played with and have studied with over the years have always believed in their musical voice, this is what sells the music. By selling music, I am not thinking about monetary gain, but rather, I am thinking about personal musical expression. If you believe in the music that you are playing, this will come across well to the audience. When the audience listens to authentic music, they will tell their friends about you; that is how to organically grow an audience.
Another piece of advice that I received early in my career: always work with people and treat people the way that you would prefer to work with others or treat others. I have enjoyed the privilege of learning from some great teachers and have worked with amazing musicians. I also am fortunate to receive regular calls for gigs and performance opportunities as well as to be a returning guest artist for a variety of shows and performances. I believe this is not just because of talent; I enjoy working with people and helping them to sound and feel good about themselves. Instead of complaining, enjoy the life that we have been given; by having a free spirit and mindset such as this, it is amazing what will happen in your career.
Have you garnered more fans from traditional word of mouth or through online (Facebook, website, SoundCloud) means? Have you noticed anything different between each type of fans?
I have found that the best way to gain followers and fans is by offering and entertaining show and by conversing with people. In addition, I have found that word of mouth is very powerful. Word of mouth can be useful in social media circles or in day-to-day life, I can`t say that there has been a specific type of fan that has come out of social media or word of mouth exclusively. Social media has helped me to connect with friends and colleagues from my university days that I haven`t seen for some time; in one particular case, I got in touch with a friend of mine from university, a cellist, and we talked things over and now I am writing a cello sonata for piano and cello and will dedicate the piece to her and hopefully get the piece recorded and performed on tour with other pieces that I am currently working on. We follow each other on Facebook and `like` each other`s posts and comment and share our feeds with our audiences. I am certain that without Facebook, it would have been much trickier to get in touch.
Thank you so much for your time. Do you have any thoughts for NeuFutur’s readers?
Please stay tuned for more interesting and new developments that will be coming soon, including the launch of my new website: www.iangreenmusic.com
Thank you so much for the opportunity!
Ian Green Interview