“My very first piano teacher (at age 4) didn’t like me because I wanted to make up my own songs and not play what was on the page. She told my mom I had no talent. So, my mom did her research and discovered Cleveland Institute of Music had teachers who would actually teach what I wanted to learn like contemporary music in addition to classical. It changed my attitude and broadened my world when I discovered teachers that actually encouraged my creativity.”
iPianoTeacher: Everyone has a beginning that points them toward their future career. Your career has been tremendously successful. What do you remember most about your teachers, the music lessons, and your own energies toward music?
Jim Brickman: My very first piano teacher (at age 4) didn’t like me because I wanted to make up my own songs and not play what was on the page. She told my mom I had no talent. So, my mom did her research and discovered Cleveland Institute of Music had teachers who would actually teach what I wanted to learn like contemporary music in addition to classical. It changed my attitude and broadened my world when I discovered teachers that actually encouraged my creativity.
iPianoTeacher: What do you tell young musicians who want to follow in your footsteps?
Jim Brickman: It’s important to create your own sound. You don’t want to be Jim Brickman or Billy Joel… there’s already one. Find places to play, church, restaurants, parties etc. Define and refine your craft.
iPianoTeacher: You are the most charted Adult Contemporary [AC] of our time and yet, at first meeting, one can see that your humility is a strong trait. We’ve heard you say that you are focusing less on your award winning recording career and more on advocating for youth. Can you tell us why, and how you are accomplishing this?
Jim Brickman: I’m a strong believer in Arts Education. We don’t know what the future holds for music programs in public school. I believe it’s essential for young people to have an outlet to express themselves. Wherever I tour, I try to invite piano students in the area to attend sound check to talk to them about how music can make an impact and be a positive influence on their lives.
iPianoTeacher: Are there areas in the country or in other parts of the world- where you see this advocacy is needed the most?
Jim Brickman: School funding for the arts is being cut across the country. It’s not easy or affordable for parents to find private teachers. Artists and teachers need to continue to advocate for the inclusion of arts and music into public education so students have access to these forms of expression.
iPianoTeacher: Hal Leonard publishing has had the pleasure of publishing several of your music collections. Can you tell us how you think students may benefit from adding your material to their home libraries and playing your work?
My writing definitely tells a story. It teaches students to do much more than just play notes, it inspires creativity and emotion.
iPianoTeacher: Congratulations on your new partnership with Roland keyboards. How do you see this partnership will further your work as an advocate for music education?
Jim Brickman: Currently, I’m working with Roland to encourage young musicians across the country by hosting master classes, sound check invites, Q&A sessions. Also we’re currently developing a summer camp program.
iPianoTeacher: Your lifetime of music has made a huge impact in positive ways. Where do you see yourself ten years from now?
Jim Brickman: I’d love to keep writing, but expand to producing and writing for Broadway musicals. It would take me back to my roots as a theatre accompanist.
iPianoTeacher: Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us today, for your beautiful music and ongoing work to encourage young musicians. We are grateful for all you are doing!