Young musician finds balance within music

Audrey Dwyer
Young pianist Emily Bear will perform at Strings Music Pavilion at 8 p.m. Saturday.

At 12 years old, one musician has learned a lesson that will stay with her for a lifetime.

“Your music is only as good as the person you are inside,” this advice comes from none other than musical legend Quincy Jones himself.

“I’ve learned to stay true to myself no matter what,” says pianist Emily Bear about some of her most valuable lessons from working with Jones. “I have to remember to always stay grounded and have fun.”

Imagine for a moment a 2-year-old playing a c-scale with just one hand on the family Steinway piano — not for childish games or malicious attempts against a baby-sitter, but for her own pure enjoyment.

She was captivated by the sounds and feelings roused within her.

Writing symphonies since she was 5, it’s evident that Emily has a virtuosic gift as a pianist. With a natural ability, she can compose, orchestrate and perform with ease a bewildering collection of musical styles ranging from the classics, to jazz, and everything in between.

“I just feel inspiration from something and I just do it,” Emily said about the feeling she gets when she is at the piano. “It’s like speaking only with music.”

With Jones as her mentor and friend, they have a common love for the music and are influenced by a diverse mix of music ranging in genres from big band to classical and even pop.

“He’s like this walking encyclopedia of music with some amazing stories,” said Emily with admiration for her teacher, mentor, friend and producer. “He’s brilliant, but in the most down-to-earth way.”

Last year, she released an album with Concord Record/Quest Records titled “Diversity.” Not only did she compose each of the 13 tracks, she worked with producer, conductor, arranger and composer Jones, who was the producer for three of Michael Jackson’s albums and has worked with Frank Sinatra and Ray Charles.

On Saturday evening, she will share her musical talents with the Steamboat community for the first time. Brimming with excitement, she looks forward to playing a few of her own jazz originals in addition to a few musical surprises.

Young musical phenomenon, yes, but she’s still just a kid and has the uncanny ability to keep a balance in her life.

“If you didn’t know Emily as a musician and just knew her as any other 12-year-old girl, you would never know,” said Andrea Bear, Emily’s mother. “She can talk to a group of adults maturely and also go be a kid with all of her friends. She is able to balance it really well and always has.”

No matter where life may take her, Emily said it’s all about maintaining a balance.

“The hardest challenge is to find time for everything and her homework,” her mother said, knowing Emily wishes she could spend all day creating music. “In the end, it all balances out.”

As far as the future is concerned, it’s looking quite bright for Emily. She recently has studied classical piano with a renowned keyboardist of the Chicago Symphony in addition to studying with professionals at Julliard School of Music and the NYU Film Scoring Department.

Not sure where the music will take her, Emily said she will continue to remain grounded in her love for music.

To reach Audrey Dwyer, call 970-871-4229, email or follow her on Twitter @Audrey_Dwyer1

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