By Daniel K. - Chicago Piano Teacher
Warmest greetings to you from Chicago where the weather can be very cold, but the music scene will always be hot! My name is Daniel K., and I have been a music performer and instructor in this great city for over three decades, teaching Chicago piano lessons as well as playing many live and studio sessions with voice, guitar, trumpet, sax, bass, drums, and piano. My favorite pursuit is rock music, but all styles of music are readily heard throughout the area, and I am happy to sit in on a jazz ensemble, Latin group, blues band, or accompany a classic music performer.
My residence is located near Wrigley Field which is surrounded by more venues than one can count, such as The Cubby Bear, Martyr’s, Schuba’s, The Metro, The
Vic Theatre, The Piano Man Lounge, and so many more clubs that it would be hard to visit them all in a lifetime. Nearby on Clark Street there are two famous reggae clubs, the Wild Hare and Exodus, which are adjacent to Sluggers, a club featuring Dueling Pianos every Friday night. There are several of these venues that promote this approach to piano performance that have become popular. Sometimes an unknown player displays their talents across from a famous artist, and it can be very inspiring to hear. Opportunity is almost infinite. Billy Joel and Elton John split the bill and performed two really awesome outdoor concerts at Wrigley Field recently. It was a wonderful musical experience beyond words to hear the piano resounding from the friendly confines of the ball park throughout Lakeview. I could hear it from my front porch!
Dave Matthews was also at the ball park a few months ago, and many other famous musicians performed at the summer street festivals which seem to occur all over Chicago. The Spin Doctors played on Lincoln Avenue only steps from my door! I fell in love with the Psychedelic Furs all over again when they played the House of Blues, which they seem to do almost every year. They also did a great show at Lincoln Park Zoo, and even the animals seemed to appreciate that. I really enjoy the delightful ostinato keyboard melodies that make the Furs’ music so hypnotic.
One can never tell if they will run into The Rolling Stones in some blues club, as they come here to get new ideas from the incredible blues artists Chicago is known for. I once ran into Robert Plant who was enjoying a free concert in Grant Park. I had the opportunity to catch Passion Pit at the Petrillo Shell last summer, and was amazed at the high energy keyboard sounds they implement into their music. There are also many behind the scenes music opportunities for up and coming artists in the theatre field, such as Brier Street Theatre where Blue Man Group performs regularly, or as a pit performer in shows such as Wicked.
Sometimes I enjoy just being a listener, as the quality of music here is unsurpassed anywhere. Perhaps it is the tried and true music of yesteryear, or the newest cutting edge development of fresh talent, but one may seek out their musical desires, and possibly discover something they would have never realized without exposure to the vibrant, robust music scene in Chicago. Several years ago my interest in salsa and cha cha dancing brought me to fabulous places like Café LaGuardia or The Rumba where I could dance all night while listening to the delightful passages of the Latin rhythms played on heavenly grand pianos by accomplished players.
There are endless performance opportunities on any given night in the clubs that feature open mic nights. I use these venues to showcase the talents and accomplishments of my Chicago piano students. It begins as a dreamy idea for a new student, but is soon realized with dramatically inspiring results. There are even opportunities for the younger students at shows for all ages at places like the Hideout, which can host world famous artists on one day and teenage girl bands on the next day.
It is quite rewarding for me to work with the Chicago piano students I have been fortunate enough to teach. I am happy to share my extensive experience with all of them, and take great pleasure in the accomplishments I witness, such as a seven year old girl that can play music that she reads or an eight year old boy that writes his own love songs with his electric guitar and voice. These two students may have a hit song before they finish high school! Even the radio stations are the best in the world here. My favorite station, WXRT, features local performances of new, unsigned artists every Thursday night. I have seen this entire country on tours and travel and as I wrote in one of my songs, “Chicago…is every place I’ve ever been.”