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Meet Bill Keis of Bill Keis Music in Glendale

Today we’d like to introduce you to Bill Keis.

Bill, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
Born to a musical family…both my parents and three of my grandparents were music teachers. I began studying piano when I was 5 years old. I studied cello starting in 3rd grade and then also trombone in 5th grade.

During high school I played cello in the orchestra, trombone in the concert and marching bands, sang in the jazz choir and played piano in the jazz band.

I landed my first paid gig playing piano at age 14. Various trios, quartets and quintets followed, encompassing music from Louis Armstrong to Charlie Parker, as well as Santana, The Allman Bros., Steely Dan, Chicago, etc. At age 16, I began studying with one of Oscar Peterson’s students, a famous pianist in her own right, Lee Shaw.

After high school, I attended Berklee College of Music in Boston, Massachusetts. Then I moved to Los Angeles and began teaching private lessons at a private music school.

In addition to teaching, I have performed/recorded with such notable and talented musicians and composers as Chick Corea, Mark Isham, David Campbell, Stanley Clarke, Ronnie Spector, Edgar Winter, Chaka Khan and Kate Ceberano, Tony Newton, Izzy Chait and many more.

Over the years I’ve also composed and produced several TV jingles, and scored a documentary film. Several of my compositions were used on the TV show “General Hospital.” And one of my compositions was used in the 2015 blockbuster movie, Avengers: Age of Ultron.

In 2000 I started my own teaching business. In 2006 I published my 488 page book “The Complete Guide to Learning Music”.

“I enthusiastically endorse this book! It is a wonderful way to enter and explore the adventure that is music, each step expertly presented to ensure a pleasurable and productive experience for any reader!” Mark Isham

In 2008 I opened my recording studio.

Today I teach, perform, record, compose and I’m working on promoting my new books. Future plans are to hold music workshops and seminars.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Early in my career, the main obstacles I encountered were the drug culture, finding enough work, changing styles of music, and the rapid evolution of technology.

I quickly realized that drugs hurt my creativity. So I escaped that pitfall. Then I had to develop routines of constantly looking for work, because the music business can have ups & downs.

I forced myself to embrace changes in music styles and found that I enjoyed new sounds. The new technology is wonderful. It is so much better now. My only caution to young musicians is to not rely on technology to create the music for you. It is really much more satisfying to actually be able to play, improvise, etc.

Overall I’d say it has been pretty smooth however there are always bumps in the road. For me the key is to be very good, be versatile and keep learning.

Personal relationships and communication are very important.

I am fortunate to love what I do. And I try to bring that joy to others.

Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about Bill Keis Music – what should we know?
Bill Keis Music – Hats = job title, VFP = valuable final product

1) Hat: Teacher – VFP: Music students with increased skills & understandings who are closer to their goals (playing live, composing, recording, etc)

2) Hat: Pianist/Keyboardist – VFP: Live performances – music played on the piano +/or keyboard in front of a live audience that results in creating an emotional impact on the audience
(first target is the other musicians. second target is the audience)
a) as a bandleader
b) as a musical director
c) as a sideman

3) Hat: Recording Artist – VFP: Recorded music – music that is created by one of many hats (see below) that results in creating an emotional impact on the audience
(first target is the client or other musicians, etc. second target is the audience)
a) producer/arranger
b) piano/keyboard player
c) recording engineer
d) mixing engineer
e) mastering engineer

4) Hat: Author – VFP: Written music education materials – books, eBooks etc. that result in creating an increase in understanding and thereby ability in the reader (student)

5) Hat: Composer – VFP: Compositions – [A] music composed and placed into a movie, TV show, or performed on the radio or live that results in creating an emotional impact on the audience (first target is the music supervisor, director, etc. second target is the audience) [B] music composed for live or recorded performance by myself or for a group or individual

I’ve been able to make a living as a musician for many years (I know lots of people who strive for that but haven’t achieved that). The key to my success is a lifelong goal of striving to be the best I can be in all areas of music. Whether this is as a player, composer, musical director, or a teacher I always strive for the highest quality in anything I do. I think my skills and attention to detail set me apart from others. Also, I always try to help others excel.

Is there a characteristic or quality that you feel is essential to success?
Persistence

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1 Comment

  1. Rita Keis

    March 9, 2017 at 06:42

    Wow you’re amazing!!! Can you teach me?

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