In a state of gustatory good cheer after a lychee cocktail and spicy dinner at Siam Patio in Fair Oaks, California, I signed my credit card receipt and my small dining party started to wrap up the evening’s conversation. Then the music started. The lights went down. We decided to stay a little longer in the glow of the golden Buddhas. My ears perked up when I heard the sweet, easy swing of Satin Doll, followed up by Summertime, which had been part of our halftime field show my senior year in marching band. Who was that on the piano?
Turns out it was Romel Mitchell, a student at Franklin High School in Elk Grove. He plays piano at Siam Patio every Friday night and is available for bookings at your event or reception. When I mentioned I am looking for a piano teacher for my 7-year-old, Romel recommended his teacher and offered to get me a special deal if I mention him as my referrer. Impressive business sense, no? My friends and I primed the tip basket with a couple of bills.
Romel showed me his set list, about 60 tunes long, and a few cheat sheets for the numbers he hasn’t memorized yet. He reads music and is learning chord structure and improvisation. He focuses mainly on jazz, showtunes, and other popular styles but is building a classical repertoire as well.
Now, I learned to read music and play piano pretty well back in the day, but was so scared when recital time came that my hands and legs shook visibly. I didn’t go out and seek performance experiences like Romel is doing. He’s smart on top of being talented, and what’s more, he’s got a great manager in his father, Mitch, who finds venues that are safe and appropriate for a high schooler (i.e., not too much drinking going on) and helps Romel balance his music and entreprenuership with, well, being a teen.
Eventually I’d like to get back into a music studio and learn jazz, update my skills–but for now my kids, ages 3 and 7, take priority. You can bet I will encourage them to find friends like Romel, not only for the sheer enjoyment of playing music together (group music training may even make kids more empathetic!) but also to catch a vision of how they can apply their gifts–and maybe even make some cash while they’re at it.
Cheers, Romel, and thanks for making what was already a great evening into an exceptional one.
You can contact Romel’s dad, Mitch, for bookings by phone at (916) 470-7022 and email@example.com