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Student Spotlight

Taren A.

Meet Taren, classical and pop pianist, actor, and now electric guitarist. You may have caught Taren’s performance at one of our recitals beautifully accompanying his sister Tessa on an Elton John or Journey song. Taren is in the audition group The Junior Players at South Coast Repertory and in a garage band with Tessa and another neighbor who plays the bass. If you head over to his Instagram (@tarenazizimusic), you can catch playing “Piano Man” on both the piano and the harmonica simultaneously!

Student Spotlight - Seth N.

Q & A with Taren

MM: What are some of your favorite hobbies, outside of music? Favorite school subjects, books, movies, shows, sports?

 TA: In addition to music, I am very passionate about acting. For this reason, I love movies and am particularly drawn to the soundtrack and movie scores. Some of my favorite movies include Lord of the Rings, Empire of the Sun, and The Green Book. These movies have excellent scores and the cinematography in all of these movies is excellent. I also love to watch classic films & I also enjoy action movies. 

MM: How did you get started with music, and how long have you been playing the piano?

TA: I got started with music because I wanted to play the piano. Tickling the ivories just seemed fun to me. I have been playing piano for 7-8 years.

MM: What have been some of your favorite performances, and why? How do you share your music with others, beyond recitals?

TA: Honestly, I haven’t been able to perform as much as I want to in the future. I enjoy doing duets with my sister who has been singing for 6 years. I also performed in the play A Christmas Carol at South Coast Repertory, which was a great experience and has further deepened my appreciation for the performing arts. I have enjoyed yearly talent shows at my school playing piano, and acting with the other performers.

MM: What makes you keep up your practice, and what are your goals?

TA: My goals for music are to improve at the electric guitar, which I recently started learning and to be able to accompany anyone on piano. I play my music all the time, and I do so because I love playing the songs that I enjoy listening to on a daily basis.

MM: Who are a few bands/artists/musicals that have inspired you, and why?

TA:  I really enjoy classic rock music, namely the Beatles, Guns N Roses, Nirvana, David Bowie, or Queen. I was mostly inspired by the movie Bohemian Rhapsody to get interested in classic rock. The Beatles are an excellent example of musical genius to its fullest extent. While Nirvana is a great showcase of how creativity can be more important than skill, and lastly, I think David Bowie is a great example of musical prolificity and variety. And finally, I think that Guns N Roses has inspired me by showing a band of people who work together extremely well. These artists have found special places in my heart for music, and I’m inspired by them whenever I play.

MM: What are some of your favorite songs, and why?

TA: One of my favorite songs would be Nirvana’s cover of the “Man Who Sold the World” by David Bowie, because of its story, and as well as its simplicity coinciding with its brilliance. I also really enjoy “Start Me Up” by The Rolling Stones because of how catchy it is. Another one would be The Beatles’ “I’m Looking Through You,” a song which I think had a lot of potential, but unfortunately due to the rushing of writing the song, it didn’t turn out as good as it could have. I could go on for days breaking down my favorite songs, but in summary, some of my other favorites include “Sweet Child O’ Mine,” “Hotel California,” and “Can’t Stop.”

MM: Can you share about a technique, skill, or song you struggled with, and how you are overcoming or have overcome it?

TA: Throughout my musical experience, I’ve had to overcome many different challenges. During my time playing classical piano, I had tons of trouble with fingering, and where to place my fingers on the piano during the song. When I play guitar, I’ve had problems with using a pick to play. However, I always try to practice enough to overcome these challenges. I also have struggled with memorizing and getting right Elton John’s “Rocketman” for my OCSA application for popular piano.

MM: You’re in the performance group at SCR! Can you talk a little about that? What was the audition process like? How did you get started acting?

TA: The Junior Players group is an ensemble class that goes from September to March, and is at South Coast Repertory. I auditioned with a monologue and a song on the piano. We do exercises to improve our skills, and monologues for performances. I initially started acting because my mom suggested it. I took the camp, and I didn’t like it, but I ended up revisiting it 2 years later. 

MM: I know you and Tessa are in a band! How did that get started? What kinds of music do you play, and how what’s the experience like?

TA: I have been in a garage band for about 3 years. It currently consists of me (piano, guitar), my sister Tessany (vocals, guitar), and my neighbor (bass). The band started when another one of our neighbors was learning drums, and asked if we wanted to form a band. At the time, our bass player was playing cello, and it didn’t go very well. After a long series of line-up changes, we finally are on track. At this point in time, we play a lot of classic rock songs. However, practice is difficult without a drummer, and not all of us focus all of the time.

MM: How’s the OCSA audition process been so far?

TA: The OCSA audition process has been somewhat difficult so far. The questions are very deep, and writing up a resume isn’t very easy.

MM: What was the transition like between classical piano and working on popular music? What are some of the rewards and/or challenges?

TA: Through my transition from classical music to popular music, I’ve gotten to experience different forms of music. It’s very rewarding to be able to play music that people know and love, allowing my performances to be less limited. Some of the problems are that I don’t play as challenging songs, so I’m not improving as fast as I was with classical music.

MM: Do you have any social media sites, like a YouTube channel you’d like to share, or anything else you’d like to add?

TA:  I do have an Instagram account (@tarenazizimusic), and a YouTube channel (I’m not very active on either).

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