Harlequin Member Spotlight: Lisa Yaldezian (April 2015)

"Music has been my passion since a very young age. The 50th anniversary of my first piano lesson is next year. How is that possible? When I started playing, I couldn't get enough. My teacher recognized my sight-reading abilities, and started to cover my music, forcing my eyes to read the notes even faster. I would run home from my lessons and have my dad sit next to me on the piano so I could teach him what I had learned that day. Boy, did he have patience.

"I accompanied my first choir at the age of 10, and was immediately hooked on the thrill I got from being able to do so. When I was 13, I received my first paid accompanying job and made $50 to help out some local organizations. Needless to say, it was not only more rewarding, but paid much better than my babysitting jobs.

"When I entered into high school, I began to accompany for the school musicals. I remember we were rehearsing the final scene in DAMN YANKEES, when Joe returns. The director had run the song and was ready to move on. I said no. She looked at me and I said, "I didn't get the chills when they sang, like I normally do." So, the director made them do it again and afterwards she looked at me, and I gave her the goosebumps on my arms of approval.

"At Michigan State University, I loved every aspect of being a Music major, except for my ear training classes. I actually needed a tutor for those, which was a new experience for me. I majored in Applied Pedagogy, with minors in Music Theory, Accompanying, and Piano Literature. I primarily focused on accompanying cellists. In fact, I was chosen to accompany a master class with a cellist under the guidance of Yo-Yo Ma, who was visiting our campus. I also accompanied cellists under the guidance of the Juilliard String Quartet cellist.

"I started giving my own private piano lessons while in college. This is now my 35th year of teaching. In more recent years, I have branched out and have been working with several people on vocal audition coaching for community theatre, regional theatre, and Broadway. I absolutely love that my life has led me to be able to do this. There is no greater joy for me than knowing that I can help someone gain their confidence when they have to audition, and my neighbors love the free entertainment. They specifically ask me to open my windows when someone is coming over to work with me. 

"I met the love of my life in 1984 and moved out from Michigan to California in 1986. I couldn’t imagine living without a piano, so I rented one to have in my apartment so I could still practice, teach, and accompany. 

"When my children became school age, I was appalled that there was no music program at the elementary school -- so in the spirit of Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney, I started my own. You haven't lived until you've seen grade school children sing "Bohemian Rhapsody" with a light show. 

"Years later, the lovely Rachael Pugh recommended me as an audition accompanist for JOSEPH AND THE AMAZING TECHNICOLOR DREAMCOAT, which was my first foray into Conejo Players Theatre. The theatre quickly became an important part of my life. Since then, I have continued to be an audition accompanist, rehearsal accompanist, pit orchestra member, music director, and a worker bee when needed. I've also done workshops for the theater in both music theory and how to work with an accompanist for vocal auditions. 

"And on that note (pun intended), I'll be holding my next workshop series in music theory each Wednesday from May 20 to June 10 at CPT. I make it as painless and as much fun as possible. Music theory, fun??? You don't know until you try. Take a step out of your comfort zone and see how much you can learn ... "