20 Watts

ISSUE 21 | Features: Play It by Ear Pt. 3

Play It by Ear

the music industry – which she described as disjointed and selfish. Where today’s atmosphere is focused on making money, PIE wants to use music for more than just green. It wants to reform the industry. Moriarty and Whitman said the media is partly to blame for the image that young artists – particularly young female artists – communicate to children. They cited pianist/singer/songwriters like Vanessa Carlton and Alicia Keys as solid role models at a time where some younger acts are succumbing to general mediocrity, corporate interests and sex appeal as paths to success.

“How many times do you hear Keke Palmer’s name or a Norah Jones?” Whit­man said. “The stories that you hear about is like, ‘Oops! Britney Spears did this, Miley Cyrus did that.’”

Thus far, PIE has hosted numerous student vocalists and musicians, includ­ing Erica Scarano, Stephen Babcock, Keith Smith, Luke Wygodny, and…themselves. Both Moriarty and Whitman play the piano and sing.

But Moriarty grew up terrified to per­form. In high school she joined the chorus and the jazz choir, and was subsequently voted “Most Musical” in her senior class. This was ironic, she said, because she didn’t perform until her baccalaureate mass. Still, performing has become one of the greatest joys in her life.

“There is no greater experience than having somebody come up to you after you sing just to tell you that they truly enjoyed your performance,” she said.

Whitman started much earlier. He said he could remember being three years old asking for a piano. By age 5 he was playing and at 6 he was getting lessons. From then on, he would perform at piano recitals and talent shows. In addition, he took part in his high-school drama productions and joined jazz bands and choirs.

“Part of what I loved about Play It By Ear is, with all the music things going on, es­pecially when you’re growing up, you have to be really devoted to it – it’s a sport – you need to really train at it, which didn’t leave a lot of time for community service things,” Whitman said.

Moriarty said PIE is concentrating on planning more events for the near future. PIE will be providing some of the musical entertainment for Relay for Life. Moriarty is also working with the Say Yes to Education program to provide an after-school program where children volunteer to be a part of PIE. Other plans include an improvisational acting night, a stand up comedy competi­tion, a “mixed tape” competition and a paint poetry night. PIE is also developing merchandise and creating a theme song for the organization.

“If I am able to surround myself with talented and passionate people who create beautiful things and want to share them with the world in hopes of making even a slight difference, I would consider myself very successful,” Moriarty said.


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