When I was young, I spent hours listening to the radio and vinyl records that I would check out from the library. In addition to listening to music, I would also play the pieces I heard on a small electronic keyboard. I was most fascinated by the music of J.S. Bach. I particularly enjoyed his compositions for pipe organ, since I could more accurately recreate these on the keyboard. Even later on in college, when I became much more fluent in reading music, I still relied on those early memories of learning keyboard repertoire (by ear) to shape the musicality of my performance practice.
My “formal training” began the summer preceding my senior year of high school. I had the opportunity to study pipe organ at Duquesne University and composition at Westminster Choir College in Princeton. After graduation from high school, I studied composition and organ at the University of Miami (in Florida). After that first year of college, I decided that I wanted to finish my remaining three years of college at home. So I transferred to Christopher Newport University and had an opportunity to study composition with Aldo Forte–the staff arranger and composer with the Air Force Band at Langley. This move was especially good for me because it provided an opportunity to conduct and compose music outside of academia. This approach, even while formally studying at the university, instilled a desire to create music that was aesthetically beautiful and elegantly crafted while maintaining accessibility to both performers and listeners.