Jonathan Tuzman

CEO AND FOUNDER OF YOUR PIANO BAR

My Inspiration

 

When I was growing up in North Jersey, I would sit in admiration as my dad played and sang at the piano. His go-to songs were from Sinatra, The Beatles, and Billy Joel. He wasn’t a trained technical musician – he played for the simple joy of playing; he loved music and came alive with infectious energy whenever he sang. Watching my father was the genesis of my desire to become a “piano bar” player. My father and I would play and sing together, and it was through our shared enjoyment of music we forged our bond.

My Training

I began taking piano lessons when I was 5 ½ years old and continued studying music for the rest of my life, culminating in a Bachelor of Music from University of Miami.

Regardless of how rigorous my technical training became, like my dad, I would always return to playing songs for fun. I started playing and singing the same music he did, and a bit of the current music I listened to on the radio.

I had a band in elementary school, and another in high school. I also played in the theater shows, and would transcribe arrangements of my favorite songs so my bands could play them – although they often wouldn’t want to.

In college I continued writing out my favorite songs for bands and did play a bunch of great cover tunes with my music fraternity friends. I would go into the practice rooms on campus and bang out my favorite Billy Joel or Polyphonic Spree songs, invoking odd looks from teachers or security guards, because I was playing so loud and big.

That experience instilled in me that you should do your own thing, what brings you joy, what makes you “you”, even if it doesn’t fit what people expect and think you should do.

“Making you feel KNOWN, through music. Playing music that speaks to who you truly are, transports you to special times and places, and is rooted in a shared experience of sheer enjoyment.”

My Lightbulb Moment

The first piano bar I played at was a small dive in Bloomfield, NJ called Pianos. In my first few performances, I started by poking fun at the songs I was singing; God forbid I play something cool and popular with sincerity! I had to maintain some ironic detachment to keep my cool hipster cred.

After a few weeks of feeling disconnected and bored, I realized that the key to a great performance – fun and joyful both for the audience and for myself – was to let my guard down and sing everything as if I meant every word and loved every note. Once I started playing sincerely, the audience and I were connected in a way I hadn’t experienced before.

A Selfless Love of Music

I moved on from Pianos and started playing at the Deck House Cabaret Restaurant in Southwest Harbor Maine. I’d go around to the guests before the show started and ask for songs they wanted to hear, and during the show people would come up to me and make requests. I loved the interaction and people sharing their favorite songs with me. I loved having the opportunity to make people happy. It was there I truly became a selfless musician—realizing that the songs I played wasn’t for me, it was for them. 

My Mission

Between running Your Piano Bar and traveling the world performing at various venues and events, I am so grateful to have the opportunity to fulfill my highest mission: