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Riley Tucker

My name is Riley Tucker. I was born in Madison, Wisconsin in 1989. My family moved to Illinois when I was very young. I grew up in Elmhurst, a western suburb of Chicago. I was lucky to be introduced to music at an early age. I learned to play the Violin with Jane Kohnke at the Christ Church of Oakbrook when I was four years old. I learned Three Blind Mice and Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star, though I quickly grew bored with playing the instrument. One thing you have to keep in mind is I didn’t have a lot of patience at this age! My father, who grew up playing organ and piano, played to my mom, sisters and I on a big mahogany grand in the living room when I grew up. Interested in the push-key-hear-note appeal of the instrument, I started playing it. My father gave me lessons using the Suzuki method’s set of Piano Books. I played through the pieces of the first book using the technique of imitation and reached the second book, a set of pieces that required more practice and (better) technique. My father would play each through perfectly the first time. Though when I tried to play them I quickly became frustrated--I could not read music and even if I could, the idea of practicing for long periods of time was all but a boring one. My mother would encourage me, but soon I quit playing.

From the time I was in kindergarten up to when I was in the fourth grade, I did not play an instrument. One day in fifth grade I went over to my friend Matt’s house. He had a drum kit and gave me a demonstration of a syncopated beat on his father’s drum kit (his father was a drummer). I was instantly impressed. I decided to give The Drums a try and enrolled in the percussion section of the junior high band. I learned how to read rhythm notes and play with a large group of brass and woodwind players. I had the special opportunity to play in public when I played cymbals in marching band for Elmhurst’s annual Memorial Day parade. In high school I remember playing “Elegy for the Young American,” by Ronald Lo Presti. I performed this piece with the cadet band, playing the suspended cymbal part and every time we rehearsed it the piece literally sent shivers up the back of my spine! I learned from this that some music can really have a powerful effect on a listener. I continued to play the drums throughout high school, while also toying with piano, but only as an amateur. Around this time, I developed an interest in producing editing short videos and creating soundtracks for them using Voyetra’s MIDI note editor for a production class I took. Looking into the future, I was mainly interested in making movies. Therefore, when my senior year of high school rolled around, it was 2008, I applied to Southern Illinois University at Carbondale to study filmmaking.

I was accepted to SIUC and spent much of the first semester studying in my dorm room. Sick of what I was hearing on the local radio, in my spare time I browsed the internet for music I hadn’t heard of. I soon found Piano Society. Immediately I fell in love with the instrumental music of Bach, Beethoven, Mozart, Debussy, Liszt, Chopin and Tchaikovsky among many others. Not only was this music free, but the quality of the recordings were excellent considering I wasn’t paying anything to download and have them for keeps (though I did donate ). It was almost too good to be true! And yet it was. Hearing all of this classical piano music rekindled my interest in playing the instrument. Not only did I want to hear these pieces played by someone else, but I wanted to try playing them! And I have no doubt learned a lot from playing by listening to the recordings. I have additionally learned from taking a number of music theory classes in the past few semesters. I took piano lessons from Bruce Siegel over the summer and am now studying piano with Yuko Kato. I have been majoring film throughout college, though my interest in making movies is equal to if not less than my interest in composing and playing music. Last year I had the fortune of having a piece I wrote, “Despair,” played and recorded by Chris Breemer, friend and PS admin. I am currently studying music composition with Frank Stemper and expect to graduate from SIUC in 2012.

Recordings


Bartok - First Term at the Piano 
Bartok - For Children 
Kodaly - Twelve Little Pieces 
Schoenberg - Six Litlle Pieces 
Schumann - Bunte Blatter 
Schumann - Kinderszenen 
Tucker - Despair 
Tucker - Hidden Motive 
Tucker - In the Twilight 
Tucker - Preludes 
Tucker - Stalemate