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Piano Keys

The history of a mission...

Pop Piano is a deeply personal mission to Dario that is rooted in a long journey of music, life, love and heartbreak. Read below where Dario tells his story directly to you, inviting you to feel what he feels about music and piano and why he made this program for EVERYONE to be able to experience the magic of making music!

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My Story

Hello my new friends!

I'm so excited you are here! This means you have an interest in learning music and how to play the piano, and I'm honored to be considered to be your guide. It IS truly an honor for me because I am on a mission - to bring as many people as possible to creating music and speaking music like a natural language giving you a beautiful way to express passion, thoughts, concepts, messages, emotions and more!

I am so passionate about this because music has brought incredible experiences and people to my life and I want that opportunity for everyone! AND I have great news... My story unveils how and why I was able to create a course that simplifies learning music and piano playing! So please, grab a snack and read on...

"From...the beginning!"

We can say that I started studying music at age 3. But the truth actually is, I started at around -3 months, when I could hear the music my mother was listening to. A short version of my mother's favorite story to tell is that she was still going out dancing up until the Saturday night before I was born. That night while listening to my dad's band play she said I was kicking to the rhythm the bass player was playing. 
Was that talent? She tells the world that it is. I don't take my gifts for granted, but being able to keep tempo is only one of a growing list of gifts I'm still discovering today! (piano playing is not my strongest "gift". You will find out what it is soon)


By 3 (and 9 months) I was enrolled in private piano lessons with the teacher my mom was taking from at that time. 

Around the age of 6 I was put on the famous Suzuki Method that heavily involved assigned listening times with cassette tapes of the songs I was to learn. I won my first state competition and ranked first place in an age category above my own (pictured - I wasn't a runt. I was just younger than everyone else). Soon to follow was a slow feed of scales, only advancing to the next once I had memorized and mastered the finger order of the last. In all I had memorized 48 scales over an arduous journey that took (embarrassingly) about 9 years to master.

What I'm about to tell you next is something I kept as a very deep secret for most of my life until I realized it was magic and not a weakness in my story. My mother and I moved. It became too much to commute through rush hour traffic on a weekday, spending more than twice as much time in the car than at the actual lesson. (sometimes upward of 3 hours round trip). She found a teacher a lot closer to us but it did not compare to my world renowned teacher I used to have. The classes didn't challenge me. I grew discouraged and ..... QUIT! - at the early age of 12. My friends.... no one knew this until now - that was the extent of my formal musical and piano education! I kept it so tightly as a secret for decades fearing it would discredit me as an aspiring teacher and performer. 

My passion for playing and making music never diminished. I vigorously self trained as much as I could, buying books and CD's of artists I wanted to sound like. I self taught a few more classical pieces with some decent advancements which defined the level I'm at even today. I was known as the kid that can play blazing fast pieces blindfolded, and yes, it helped me impressed the girls in my class that I had a crush on! It wasn't until I had one of the most humiliating musical experiences in my life during high school that I realized what was missing from my list of abilities and knowledge. 

At 16, being a decent reader of piano music, I was sometimes asked to accompany my friends for their choir solo pieces. I'd get the sheet music ahead of time, perfect it and enjoy being the guy on the piano they could rely on. My height of excitement came when the popular choir teacher asked me to accompany him for a performance in front of the whole school. I was expecting a classical piece; one that I could read note for note. It was not that. I can never forget what song it was because it stopped me dead in my tracks. And here's the kicker of it all... it wasn't a hard piece... at all!

It was the famous rock/ballad song "Open Arms" by my mother's favorite band, "Journey". I had heard that song no less than one million times and knew it forward and backwards... or did I?

To shorten the length of this part of my story I'll attempt to help you understand the conundrum I faced with a metaphor I'm confident you will understand. It was like discovering that Leonardo da Vinci could paint the Mona Lisa, but couldn't paint simple shapes like squares, triangles and circles! No joke! I wanted to just disappear. I couldn't do it. I couldn't! Now, the powerhouse pianist was..... well... nothing.... in front of all my friends; Incapable. That day almost destroyed me forever. I didn't play in front of anyone for the following 4 years! I even failed at a last ditch effort to be a part of a worship band for a youth ministry I was a founding member of. I was deflated. Defeated. And it challenged my faith as well. My life then turned in a totally different direction.
 

I was lost. I had enrolled into Harper College with no musical classes in the plans. I dropped out promptly, started a family and moved to an affordable rural town in Ohio with no instrument to play. A new role for me had started. A father and husband. I had no association with music any longer. It was the cause of my rejections and pains and associations with being a failure. But the music never left me.

At 20 I visited a music store in the small town I was living in, aching to play something. I couldn't afford any instrument to purchase or even rent. So I started frequenting that music store to just play on their merchandise. Until one day the shop owner asked if I could teach some of his customers. This meant several things: I would have my own practice room and access to a piano, I could bring home more money and I could discover a new passion... teaching. I accepted, not knowing what it would lead to and even without any experience in teaching. But it was then that I realized something huge..

It wasn't until I started teaching that I realized how incomplete and outdated current teaching methods were! In trying to replicate the way I learned I saw that it was severely slower than what my students could actually do and understand if I just spoke to them and presented them with "packets" of information they could apply to all their learnings! A white-hot fire lit up in me and my soul almost left my body when I realized that no one ever had to go through what I went through... And I can help them!
No one had to learn as slowly as I did. No one had to grind their minds and hands to level of resentment. No one had to lack information that helped them have a more complete yet simple understanding of music. And... there was a way to prevent anyone being humiliated the way I was as a teenager!


My methods weren't polished or perfected over night. Noooooo.... it took the next 17 years of teaching private lessons to package a perspective that everyone can understand, absorb and retain. Towards the end of my career of teaching in person, I had students as young as 6 with the ability to identify and play any scale (slowly) and 10 year olds doing college level analytical reductions (look it up). I had a few who pursued classical, but most of them were learning their favorite songs on the radio. I realized as a teacher, MY goal, MY mission wasn't necessarily to make the BEST players, but the happiest.

I practiced what I preached! I applied everything I learned and taught... to my own playing! I had mastered "painting the squares, triangles and circles" and was able to learn and play almost any pop/rock song almost instantly! In 2010 I began my career as an extremely high energy piano bar performer playing all request shows. From the very first year to now I have had an average of 250 bookings a year! I was able to make a stable career as a performer, providing for my family and more! But for me, the best part of that journey was making people sing, smile, dance, fall in love, make new friendships and uniting entire rooms of strangers!

Along the way I've made countless friends, fans and admirers that would ask me every single week "How do you do what you do???!!"

I hope now you understand why I'm just exploding with excitement to bring you Pop Piano today! I finally found MY  way to share that answer and all the happiness that comes with it with the WHOLE WORLD! I put my entire heart into building this course and everything that comes with it for you and everyone like you. My top priority is to make this within reach for anyone in the world because no one should be limited from getting the fulfillment I've received from music. I feel so blessed to live in an era with technology that I can leverage to make this as inexpensive as it is. So please don't associate the low price tag with quality; and please enjoy my greatest creation, Pop Piano.

Welcome. Let's grow together!

-Dario

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