Continuing Education

Play in Life

When it comes to appreciating an artist’s work, particularly a musician, how often do we stop to consider that “playing” is not simply performing or producing music; playing is about Imageattaining state of play. Jazz Piano Intensive instructor Darrius Willrich will be the first to tell you, playing while playing is what playing music is all about.

Willrich has been playing piano for 32 years and teaching for over 20. He grew up listening to and singing gospel music, but ultimately fell under the spell of popular music artists like Prince and Stevie Wonder. He vividly recalls the moment he knew music would be his life, “I had a friend who played music in church and he played a beautiful song called Jesus Is Love by Lionel Richie and I just had to learn it…and the rest is...”

It was no surprise to those around him music would become Willrich’s calling and he’d eventually pursue a Bachelors of Music from Cornish College of the Arts. “I have been playing jazz, pop, R&B as a leader and sideman for quite a while now,” he says.  “I've released 3 Imagealbums as a soul singer/songwriter and am currently the keyboardist for 90's hip hop icons Digable Planets.”

Willrich says he has never been without the tremendous support of teachers, friends and colleagues, but admits his mother was his greatest champion. “She was super supportive and bought me a piano after I proved that I would be interested in piano for a year.”

As for teaching, Willrich says one of the greatest challenges he faces as a teacher is his management of patience. “I get so excited when I see students progressing I get a bit excited and need to keep going at the same pace that got them there in the first place,” he says.  “I work to build student's confidence by making sure they are going slow and doing the work in small, manageable chunks.”

Students interested in joining Jazz Piano Intensive need no background in Jazz. “Students just need a hungry drive to practice and get what they came for,” he says. “Very little else is needed.”

Most importantly, students will receive a firsthand introduction to Willrich’s personal credo: “Play in life, do what you love." “So many people hate their jobs and what they do for a Imageliving,” he says. "Somehow you need make you life into a game that you like playing. Keep it fun light and still do what is necessary. Spend your time being happy. Whatever that means to you. It could be anything that lights you up and turns you on.”

Learn more about Jazz Piano Intensive.