The week continues, and today I introduce you to the composer and piano player Tiffany Hobson!
Where are you from? And where do you live?
I grew up in Utah and I now live in Great Falls, Montana.
How long have you been playing the piano, and do you play other instruments as well?
I started taking piano lessons at 7 years of age. I can also play the organ and a few chords on the guitar.
Tell us about how you started playing music.
My Dad decided to put me in piano lessons when I was seven years old because he loved piano music so much. I remember my older sister taking lessons and being excited for the time when the teacher thought my hands were big enough to start taking lessons as well.
How long have you been making piano music?
My first piano teacher taught me how to compose which I am forever grateful to her for! I don’t think many teachers do that. She even taught me how to write out my music with pencil and paper. I wrote my first song with her when I was 7 years old and when I was 8 years old I wrote a song by myself for my Grandpa who had just passed away. I continued to write a few songs here and there throughout my school years, but it wasn’t until I had my first child ten years ago and became a stay at home mom that I started to be more disciplined with composing. I wanted something to keep me busy while my son napped so I got back in to arranging music and composing original songs and it has grown into a huge passion of mine.
Tell us something about that moment you realized you could make songs yourself!
When I first started taking lessons I was never good at sight reading and I didn’t enjoy the formal learning of reading music. But I loved letting my emotions flow through my hands onto the piano. I started just letting my left hand play chords while my right hand improvised a melody. I’d have fun creating a story in my head or making up words for the melody while my hands played back and forth. I didn’t realize I was doing anything that neat until my mom and my older sister took notice and enjoyed my improvisations.
What are your favorite artists in this “piano genre”?
Brian Crain was one of my first loves in the piano genre when I started listening to it more frequently 10 years ago. His music is so soothing and beautiful and definitely inspired me to become a piano artist myself. My other favorites include Jef Martens, Alexis Ffrench, Isabella Turso, Martin Herzberg, and Emile Pandolfi.
Is there one song which you play over and over again as soon as you sit down by a piano? Your own or someone else’s?
My favorite song to sit down and play over and over again is “Jessica’s Theme” by Bruce Rowland from the movie, The Man from Snowy River. I’ve had it memorized for years now so it’s a song where I can just totally forget about the notes and let my fingers play the music. It’s such a freeing, beautiful and passionate song.
What rules (in making music) needs to be broken?
I think any rule can be broken. I really try not to follow ‘rules’ when I’m composing. The key can change in the middle of the music, the tempo and the time can change, chord progressions can differ from the norm or from what may be expected and a song can still be wonderful. The important thing is to write from the heart and to write what brings you joy. When you write from the heart and share your own pain, joy or sadness, everyone can relate because we’ve all experienced pain, joy and sadness. That’s what makes music a universal language. A true creator is able to let go of rules and let their music and feelings flow how they are meant to flow. It is so important to be original and to be you. Don’t try and be like another artist, don’t try to make sure you follow all the rules. Just follow your heart and let your music flow. When I see or hear someone enjoying their passion without fear of following rules or impressing other people that is when I feel I am witnessing real genius. Nothing is more entertaining or inspiring than witnessing real genius.
How do you record your music?
I have been recording music myself in my home. I’ve been learning a lot about editing,mixing and DAWs. I still have so much to learn, but it’s been a great experience so far and I’ve been able to make some great friends along the way who have been generous enough to share tips andadvice with me.
Whats your take on sampled instruments?
I feel like I have a love/hate relationship with sampled instruments. They really have come a long way and some sampled pianos sound incredible. Sampled instruments make it much easier to record at home. But at the same time I feel like it’s harder to get the dynamics and the passion of the music across with a sampled instrument. Sometimes there is nothing that compares to an acoustic sound.
Anything else you want to share?
Piano music means a lot to me because it has brought me a lot of peace in my life not only from composing myself, but also from listening to the beautiful pieces from others. Life gets busy and we constantly have other things seeking our attention. I think it is important to take time every day to ponder and meditate. Piano music helps me do that. I hope you can find time to ponder and be still as you listen to my music.
The last question is asked by my 6 year old son:
Where do all your songs come from?
This is such a great question and sometimes I feel like the songs are true inspiration. I often have melodies come to me in the quiet of the morning or when I am still at night and I know it couldn’t have possibly come from my own mind.
Thank you for your participation Tiffany!