Justin began teaching himself to play by ear at age 10. After a couple years playing on a friend’s piano, his parents rented him a piano, and he began to teach himself to read music. He began lessons at age 13 and began performing in recitals that year.
In grade school, Justin played clarinet, saxophone, jazz piano, and percussion. He then received a full scholarship to college to play piano, bassoon, cello and percussion. During his Associate work, he had the opportunity to perform Rachmaninoff’s Second Piano Concerto with the Southwest Symphony Orchestra in Japan. He also performed Rhapsody in Blue with the college Symphonic Band.
During his Bachelor’s work, Justin also began composing and directing, as well as working on his Piano Performance degree. He had the honor of co-writing the score for an original musical: Nathan Hale. After finishing his degree, Justin had the opportunity to perform his senior recital in London and Oslo. Upon returning he was asked to perform Tchaikovsky’s First Piano Concerto with the Southwest Symphony Orchestra.
During the following year Justin was offered a position teaching music theory, ear training, and private piano at Dixie State University. He also worked as a piano accompanist and vocal coach to the music majors. During this time, and with the encouragement and guidance of his composition instructor, Shannon Roberts, Justin began focusing on his writing. He then set his sights on a Master’s Degree in Composition.
Having always been a huge fan of movie scores, Justin sought out a graduate program that focused on writing for film and TV. At the time there were only a handful of schools that offered this degree. Justin applied and was accepted to both Berklee School of Music and Seattle Film Institute. He chose the latter as Seattle has always been near and dear to his heart!
Under the tutelage of Emmy award-winning composer Hummie Mann, Justin completed his Master’s Degree in Composition for Film, TV, and Video Games. He remains here in Seattle and is a freelance composer and piano teacher. Justin believes that a good ear can go a long way toward learning piano, but paired with strong theory foundation will propel the student toward a deeper understanding of the composer’s purpose.
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