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I like to play piano and sing. I’ll often take down one of my huge fake books with hundreds of songs, flip to a random page, and just start playing and singing the songs, one after the other. Often I’ll discover something wonderful, like a great chord progression or a clever lyric.

Andrew singing A few years ago I started singing lessons. When we started including actual songs, I quickly realized that while it’s fun to casually sing other people’s stuff, I didn’t really want to study it. If I was going to spend a lot of time practicing a song, I wanted it to be my own song! So I started writing my own songs.

My teacher threw an annual student recital at a Seattle nightclub, and I participated. Most of the other students sang jazz standards, but I chose to do a few of my own songs. I rehearsed a few times with the local jazz trio who was backing everyone up, and with the encouragement of some friends I got up and sang my songs.

Firefly cover I later moved to another teacher and continued writing. After a while I thought it would be fun to hear how these songs would sound if they were really played and sung well. So I fired up my music software and worked out arrangements for eight of my songs. My plan was to hire some local musicians and singers, rehearse with them, and then record them. I gave it a good shot, but it quickly became clear that this was going to be much more expensive and complicated than I’d thought. So I decided to do it all myself. Using a combination of software and real instruments, I played everything from drums and piano to cello and accordion, and built my tracks. Then I sang the lyrics and put it all together.

The result was my first CD, which I titled Firefly after one of the songs. Here’s the cover. It probably wasn’t the worst home-made CD that year, and some friends graciously claimed that they enjoyed it. I’m still writing new songs and I’m still hoping to learn how to really sing one day!