Vocalist, pianist, church organist, private piano and voice teacher, high school music teacher and choir director, songwriter – Ann continues to live out her love for music by writing every day, and mentoring other Christian songwriters and performers.
CHILDHOOD “When I was in sixth grade, my mother bought me a small piano, and I kept it in my bedroom, right next to my bed. I would literally crawl out of bed in the morning, and start playing something on the piano (funny how that has not changed). I started music lessons the same year I got the piano, and began playing in public when I was asked to play for my sixth grade dance class at school.”
HIGH SCHOOL AND COLLEGE “I became a Christian the summer before my senior year in high school. That changed everything for me. All during high school, I studied with a concert pianist and was accepted at Eastman School of Music in Rochester, NY, fully expected to embark on a professional music career as a pianist and composer. But God has His ways of putting my feet on His path, for His purposes. I changed my plans at the last minute, and followed my friends to a Christian college on the West Coast. That decision was one of the best of my life. It was during that time that I began my lifelong love for serving on worship teams. I would not trade my years in Gospel music for anything in the world. Throughout high school and college, I was a church pianist, organist and soloist. I spent every available hour of my life singing for weddings, playing piano and organ for church services and revivals, special occasions and holidays.”
LIFE HAPPENS So many musicians have to put their music dreams “on hold”, while facing the responsibilities of everyday life. Life happens; bills need to be paid, food needs to be on the table. “There is nothing wrong with taking a ‘real job’ in order to make a living. For many years I climbed the ladder, and with each promotion came more money. Yet with all my rationale behind how I was making the quality of life better for everyone around me, nothing ever seemed to fill the void that was left in my heart when I walked away from full-time music and ministry. Most of us can recite a litany of progress throughout our working career, complete with milestones and awards. What we don’t talk about on our bio, CV and resume are ‘between the lines’ events we don’t want to admit to; quite often knee-jerk moments we wouldn’t even tell our dog about. If you look between my lines, on one side you would see an impressive pedigree, trips around the world and 4 beautiful children; but on the flip side you would see an overbalance of long-forgotten dreams, lost years, failures, heartaches, loss of friends and family, awkward relationships, tragedies, misunderstandings, tearing and healing, ever-so-humbling forgiveness, disappointments, and tears (all the things that make up a songwriter). Where my shining moments are a song, my stumblings are a symphony. Yet as I look back over my life now, I realize It was the ‘life-happens’ era of my life that forged me into the person I have become. Truly grateful for every pitfall, mishap and tragedy that came my way, I now realize, in hindsight, God had to humble me before I could be of any use to Him.
TURNING POINT “In 2003 we moved from Seattle to the East Coast, then to Nashville. While we were there, our daughter began music lessons with some of the greats in the industry, Gary Talley, Phoebe Binkley, Brett Manning and Tom Jackson. While she was learning, so was I. Wanting to know more about songwriting, I became a member of Nashville Songwriters Association International (NSAI). Their method of conducting meetings, and listening to songwriters is brilliant. The entire culture of the music community in Nashville is second-to-none. I have yet to find a more giving and fun-loving group of people anywhere on earth. In 2010, we moved to Savannah Georgia, and I began songwriting full time. It was like starting my music education all over again, since songwriting is a craft all in its own species. I joined a local songwriters group on Tybee Island. I have heard it said that songwriters in Georgia have a special gift for story-telling. I can confirm that is true. You could sit for hours by a campfire and listen to these story-songs. One unique quality is that they frequently write 10 or so verses to their songs, if it helps convey the message. We spent nearly three years in Savannah, and then returned to our home, Seattle.” FINDING MY “NICHE” Finding your niche is like finding your voice, in songwriting terms. Your own personal niche is where you experience the greatest satisfaction and comfort; the place where all of your years of knowledge and experience come together in a supernatural way, for the glory of God, and for the benefit of those you come in contact with. “I found my own niche one day when I came into agreement with God’s calling on my life, and started a Christian songwriters group in the Seattle area. What started out as one meeting in a rented college classroom, blossomed into monthly meetings in several locations in the Northwest, plus four live concerts a year, and an awards ceremony. It was obvious when I answered the call to do this, that it was needed and appreciated. Quality songwriters from every level of experience and discipline flocked to our meetings, and soon we expanded into an artist agency. It amazed me how this agency, Sound Praise, took off. We attracted artists and bands of amazing quality and talent, connecting them with churches, the military, county fair dates, and concerts. At that point, I really felt God’s blessing upon my life, and He used everything I had learned in my life, both musically and in every other respect, to make my work complete.”
THOUGHTS “These are the best days of my life…I am married to the love of my life and best friend, Mike, a master electrician. I am living a dream come true: songwriting full-time, and shepherding a very talented collection of Christian songwriters and performers. I consider myself truly blessed, and thank God every day for His love and precious gift of freedom through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
Grace Geyser: My love of music began when I was in the 6th grade. My mother bought me a piano, and started my love of music through lessons with a great local teacher. I look back now, and I am amazed at the kaleidoscope of talents that one music teacher had: Grace taught me how to play piano; but above that, she taught me how to read classical music, play by ear, write down songs I heard on the radio (then play them), and write my own music. From her I learned music theory, a love for piano, organ, opera, and classical music. She also gave me singing lessons. She coached me in the Bel Canto method of singing, and taught me a wide range of performing, from being a diva soloist on the stage, to a humble accompanist for a crowd wanting to sing Christmas Carols. With the help of Grace, I was soon playing the piano for school dances and programs, and I became a crowd pleaser, playing hits off the radio, all by ear. She was a great encourager, and a truly remarkable personality.
Laura Lee Lukas: Concert pianist, 4th generation Beethoven student. (Wager Swayne,Theodor Leschitizsky, Czerny, Beethoven). When I was a teen, and in my early 20’s, I took lessons from Laura for 5 years. Laura taught me how important discipline, hard work, and following a method were, to accomplishing a goal. I will forever be grateful to her for making me practice 5 hours a day (I wasn’t all that grateful in high school and college, though…). She gave me the confidence and grace to make it all the way through a complicated piece, and show grateful appreciation for applause.
Gerard Faber: From the Netherlands, Faber was 3rd top organist in the world at the time of my lessons. Lessons for one year. Gerard was such a master that he was famous for being able to compose a fugue on the spot, in front of a crowd of hundreds of people. He would have someone in the audience hum a random short little tune, then sit down at the console of a pipe organ, and produce a masterpiece from that small improvised tune. William Tapsfield: World-class big band trombone soloist. Tapsfield was my theory teacher in college, and an amazing musician, and Christian. There wasn’t a question during class that he couldn’t answer. And we asked some pretty complicated questions. This foundation was the pre-cursor to my love for arranging, and his guidance gave me a confidence that was a great finish to all the theory lessons I had been given since a child. A good foundation in music theory is worth pursuing.
Elmer Bernstein, Lawrence Foster (they were the Alexandre Desplat and Hans Zimmer “back-in-the-day”): spent one summer in an orchestra and choir under their direction.
Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco: Famed Italian composer and conductor. I performed in the opera chorus of the world premier of his opera “Song of Songs”, which was written from the Song of Solomon. Mario was present at the concert. It was a beautifully set opera and an honor to be chosen to sing with them.
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