Successful Musicians Podcast Episode 11
Interviewee: Lynn Tredeau
Interviewer: Jason Tonioli
Hey, this is Jason Tonioli. I’m a piano player that grew up believing it wasn’t possible to earn a living and support a family with music. I’ve proven that idea was wrong and I’ve met hundreds of other people who have found success with their music. This podcast features stories of musicians who have found their own personal version of success and fulfillment in both music and life. This podcast is meant to inspire musicians and help them believe in their abilities and motivate them to share their talents with others. This is the Successful Musicians Podcast.
Jason: Hello, this is Jason Tonioli with the Successful Musician Podcast and today we have Lynn Tredeau, a piano player from Idaho with me today. She’s an incredible pianist. I wanted to just kind of do an interview with her to kind of find out a little bit about her take on music in general.
Lynn, tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get started with music and you’ve been very successful with some award-winning albums .Tell people a little bit about yourself. How did you get started in this?
Lynn: Oh, well for one thing, thanks for having me here, Jason. It’s gonna be a lot of fun. I got started in music as a child. I had been begging my parents for a piano and they kept insisting “No, we don’t have room for one. We’re not doing that.”
Meanwhile, they were arranging a surprise for me to have a piano delivered for me. I spoiled the surprise by answering the phone and getting the delivery person asking if this was the right address and the right time to deliver my piano. [laughing] I kind of spoiled the surprise, but it was still a surprise at that point in time.
Jason: How old were you when that happened?
Lynn: I was about five.
Jason: Wow! You’re answering the phone at five years old already?
Lynn: Well, this was back when I think at the time when we were one of the first families in my neighborhood that had a private line. Everybody had a party line. So when you were on the phone, there were like five or six other houses that could pick up the phone and listen to your conversation which was… I can’t even envision that now.
Jason: For all our cell phone kids out there. We’ll talk about that in another podcast. You can go to school to learn about. History.
Lynn: Yes about rotary dial telephones and all those old fashioned things. So, from there, they found a woman who just happened to live walking distance from my house to be able to start lessons and I did lessons with her for many, many years. And when I was a sophomore in high school, she kind of said, “Well, okay, I’ve taught you everything I can teach you” but in the meantime I had been accumulating all these other instruments and basically you could say music was everything. It was just that school was okay. I’ll get through my schoolwork but just get me to my music lessons and get me to band and orchestra and jazz band and all the different things that I was continually, if there was a musical opportunity, I was at the front of the line wanting in on it.
And then I got into adulthood and life took a little bit of a different turn – a wonderful, blessed turn. I ended up getting married and deciding to have kids. So music kind of had to go on a little bit of a back burner for a few years while I raised my family. And then as they were growing into adults and starting to leave, I knew that I wanted to get back into doing something musical and my husband had surprised me with a piano that we had moved to Alaska with us.
When we were in Alaska, when we lived there, the kids were leaving, I said you know I want to do something musical. I had been practicing and playing again but wanted to do something with that. And so I took on teaching and I opened the studio in Alaska, was there for several years and then we moved down to Washington State where I had a much larger studio there and taught for many, many years.
Then, my husband wanted to retire. So we decided where we wanted to move, which was Idaho, that’s why we moved here. Cost of living was much less so that I could embark on deciding to write my own music. I’ve been writing for a while. I hadn’t recorded anything yet. We moved to Idaho. I started recording and that was back in 2015 and now we’re 8 albums later and many many singles and a lot of travel and touring and performing and I absolutely love it.
Jason: Amazing! 8 albums. That’s a lot of albums in a short time span. Your first one was in 2015, correct?
Lynn: My first year, I released two albums. I released my debut album “Echoes of Life”. And then later that year, I released a Christmas album.
Jason: Nice! For myself it was I did that first album and kind of believed in myself like oh my gosh, I could do that. And then you have all those Christmas songs you can put out right away. Like for years, right?
Lynn: Oh yeah, I’ve done that for many years. I would put together songbooks for Christmas every year. Each student got a songbook with arrangements I had done just for their level. So, everybody’s songbook was different.
And then I would do graphics for the front and hide the year in it. And when I go back to Washington State, my students will come to my concerts and they still have all the songbooks and they still play from them.
Jason: Awesome, very cool. When you were a mom, did you do a lot of writing as well just on your own? When did the bag hit you to write music?
Lynn: When my husband surprised me with a piano, when we were still living in Minnesota, I would brush up on all kinds of Christmas music for Christmas every year, we would have a big Christmas party, a big potluck and everybody would come over and I had printed out sheets of all the lyrics for all these different Christmas tunes. So we would sit around the piano and sing and that kind of got me back into wanting to play more. So then I started practicing and the rest of the year I played lots of classical music and things that I had been really brought up on.
But, it wasn’t until we moved back down to Washington State, as I was listening to Pandora one day, and on came this wonderful, beautiful tune by Michelle McLaughlin and it just struck me as “Wow, I really love this particular style.”
I had not really listened to that style of music, the style that I know right up until that point and so then I just took a deep dive and I was buying older sheet music and was teaching a lot of Michelle’s music and Joe Bongiorno’s music to my students, which they were absolutely so thrilled to be doing and they were thoroughly enjoying it but then it got me really wanting to experiment and that’s where it went from there. So then I started making arrangements for me to play my pieces.
Jason: You’ve done eight albums, if you’ve got piano books that you’ve done as well?
Lynn: I do. Every album has a song book that goes along with it.
Jason: Awesome. And I’m assuming all of those you can find out at your website as well, right? If anybody wants to check that out, it’s lynntredeau.com.
Lynn: Yes, it’s lynntredeau.com.
Jason: Anybody that’s interested in that, we’ll put that in the show notes. You should for sure go and check that out. Definitely worth checking out. I told Lynn… I was joking with you that before I was almost late for a call as we scheduled it because I was listening to your music and I kind of totally lost track of time. So it was good. So Lynn, I’m just curious, your perspective because you started out as a piano student and then you kind of went away, you were a mom and you came back and you ran a music studio. As you look at success for yourself, what would you say of your defining success in music to somebody? How would you describe that? Because it’s different for every type of person. But for you personally, what would you say is achieving success as a musician?
Lynn: For me personally, I mean, when I started recording my music, my big goal, all our biggest goal when I first started in 2015 was I just wanted to get a bunch of music recorded so that I could make some CDs and hand them out to my friends and family. That was like a big goal. And I really hadn’t planned anything beyond that.
Then when things started to kind of take off and I was getting some feedback and I’ve decided well let’s send it out for a review and see what somebody would say. And then I got some good feedback and some really good critiques of this would be good and that would be better. And so then I kind of started to open it up from there.
So, I would say, for me now, the goal is I always want to make sure I’m enjoying what I’m doing. My husband and I will often joke that the day that I just don’t want to go to the piano is the day that I’m done. And that’s the day we say okay, we’re going to just go on now and enjoy the rest of our retirement. This is what I retired to do. Retired to work I guess. But I always want to make sure I’m enjoying what I’m doing. And I’m certainly looking for ways to kind of hone it into areas where what I’m doing, while I’m enjoying it, I’m making some money at it. So that is definitely a part of my goal.
It certainly wasn’t when I first started. It hadn’t even occurred to me that I could make money doing this.
Jason: I think you come from a very unique perspective where you’re kind of a classically trained pianist where you grew up in that world. Very similar to my upbringing. I learned how to play the piano and then you also taught, so I’ve not been a piano teacher but what advice would you have for piano teachers? You said you found this new age, Michele McLaughlin, Joe Bongiorno style…
What advice would you have for teachers today that maybe have students that are wanting to get in and play some of that, or be introduced to that? I’m just curious what you would tell these teachers that maybe aren’t using that.
Lynn: I would absolutely encourage teachers to open that up to their students. I know that some teachers are very much, they have that set curriculum that they’re going to go through and they have certain classical pieces. I would really encourage teachers to open up this style of music to their students, and if they’re interested, let them really experiment and let them do some creative things. I mean, one of my students in the last year that I taught did express some interest in writing. And if you have students that want to write their own music, help them do that.
Theory can be all incorporated into that where you can talk about song structuring and talk about all the technical aspects of music theory by letting them play whatever it is that the student really wants to learn to play.
Jason: I totally agree. I think, for me as I was growing up, I felt like I had to play certain things for my teacher and I changed those things because I thought they needed to sound different. I thought it sounded better. I’d mix it up and change the rock, modern for Mozart or Beethoven and I frowned on doing that, but I always felt like if you don’t enjoy it, why bother?
Lynn: Music, really, it should be an extension of whoever you are, and wherever you are in life. It should be an extension of you. It needs to sound like somebody else. I really encouraged my students to do that. And I definitely, when I talk to other musicians who are just getting started, something I always tell them too is find your niche, find your voice, and perfect that voice and your audience will come.
Jason: For sure. I’m curious, where do you find inspiration for your songs? I mean, do you go to a certain place? Do you think about something? Where do a lot of the song ideas come from?
Lynn: I’m inspired by so many things. I do love to create music that’s inspired by nature. I do create a lot that comes from that. I mean, the first track on my new album is tide pools, which was inspired by being in the tide pools of the state of Washington.
Nature helps me really kind of clear my mind. I do a lot of thinking when I’m out hiking or I’m out wandering around or just being out someplace by a waterfall, those types of things. Those are some of my favorite activities to do. And then I’m almost always inspired to write something about that when I get home.
I am also very inspired by my friends and my family. I have songs that I’ve written about my parents and my grandchildren and my husband. I find lots of inspiration from many, many places. I know that when we moved into this house in rural Idaho because we used to live closer to town and now we’re about an hour south of Boise. And when we moved here, I knew that that was going to be inspiring when I got into this space and when I looked out my front windows, I could see the Snake River. And I knew that would be inspiring. I couldn’t have imagined how inspiring.
Jason: That’s great. So the next question I’ve got for you is, looking at the kind of your career and your path that you’ve been on, if you could go back to a younger version of you and give yourself some advice regarding music or just life in general, what advice would you give yourself?
Lynn: I think I would just tell myself that it does get better. There isn’t this point where you just kind of reached a pinnacle, wherever you feel like that is, there’s always another challenge to take on. There’s always some new goal to set, to not really limit myself by saying well, this is where I want to get to and then think that there’s anything beyond that and then there’s always a way to pull in something else. I mean, the last couple of years.
Initially, I thought, well just solo piano, solo piano is my thing. That’s what I’m gonna do. I set all my sights on that. And then I started meeting a lot of musicians who play other instruments and that really kind of opened me up to “Oh, well, I don’t have to do just solo piano. I can do some of these other things too.”
And so I’ve been on other people’s albums and I’ve done some collaborative projects that I couldn’t have seen at the beginning. When you’re first starting out and you think you know where you’re going with it but you just really don’t know.
Be open to something new coming along and twisting and turning and changing new opportunities.
Jason: So you have piano students, put yourself in the shoes of these students…An evangelist piano student comes to you and they’re thinking, “Man, I’m really good at music. I don’t think I can make a living at this.” But they’re kind of in that phase of life where they’re like, do I quit and go a different path? What advice would you have for somebody that’s trying to determine if music is even a viable career these days?
Lynn: It does certainly have its challenges. Being a full time musician is very rewarding but it can be very, very challenging. In my case, I waited until I was technically retired and so I didn’t need to make any income from it or hadn’t actually initially planned to.
I think try to find that way that you can fit it into your lives. While you’re finding out if it’s something that you can turn into a full time career, have something else. If you’re into music, maybe you want to be a piano teacher while you’re creating your initial first few albums.
And then when the music takes off, then you can decide or not, you can continue to teach. I have plenty of musical friends who do continue to teach as a part of maybe they’re supplementing their full time music income or they’re doing it just because they love to teach.
I know I seriously thought about going back to teaching just because I love it so much. I don’t think that it has to be an all or nothing. You don’t have to just do music. If you can just do music and that’s what you want to do. Right?
Jason: As a piano teacher, what’s your all time favorite music book that you like to refer students to check out and play through?
Lynn: I had so many favorites that I would refer students to. Every single one of my students was in a different set, and had different things they were doing. I would really just encourage teachers to let their students guide them as far as what they are teaching from. I mean, I would tell my students just bring if there’s a song you want, bring a copy of it to your lesson and we’ll figure out a way to either simplify it while your skills are still building or we’ll make modifications to it. Because I mean music theory exists on any sheet music that there is, it doesn’t matter what the style.
So yeah, I can’t really say that I had one particular favorite that I would go to again and again. My students were on such a wide variety of pieces they were working on and styles they were working on.
Jason: If you’re picking one song to like, if you could only show one song that you’ve recorded to somebody to say ,”This is my music, go check this out.” What song would that be?
Lynn: I think right now one of my favorites is “What the Rain Said.” That’s one of my favorites right now and I’ve been struggling to not continue to write in that same key with those same rhythms because I love playing it so much.
Jason: How did that song come about?
Lynn: Well, this entire album “Reflection” is all about walking through, coming back from a chronic illness and incorporating it into my life. So I spent a lot of time reflecting on how I got here. How do I move forward? All those types of things and one of the times when I really spend a lot of time, I can’t help but to really think because when it’s raining outside, when you sit and you can just hear the rain and it changes. Sometimes it’s fast. Sometimes it’s hard. Sometimes it’s just you kind of feel dismissed. It got me really thinking about just the language of rain. It’s almost like a conversation. So that was where it was. So the song was developing and then I always have to figure out as much as I can. I love coming up with interesting titles. To communicate what it is the song is about but instead of just saying rainy day, I wanted to have something that kind of already gets your brain going in that direction. And so my husband and I, he’s really helpful with that. He’ll kind of throw things back and forth. He’ll say, Well, what about this? What about that? And that was reading the title of ‘What the Rain Said’ because the rain really does. It gets your own mind telling you things. And it really can kind of draw you into a conversation.
Jason: I’m assuming that the songs are available on your website for people who want to go check it out?
Lynn: Absolutely, and sheet music.
Jason: Awesome. Well, Lynn, thanks so much for chatting with me today. If you’d like to go check out that music. I mean, you really don’t take a few minutes and go to lynntredeau.com. So go check that out and I can pretty much guarantee, you’re gonna find some new music that you’re gonna really enjoy listening to or playing. I appreciate your time today and we’ll catch you on the next one.
Lynn: All right, thank you very much for having me today. Jason.
Hey, it is Jason here and I hope you have gotten a lot of value out of this episode. Be sure to check out our show notes to learn more about our guest for today and if you’d like to support our podcast, there’s a few things that you could do to help us grow.
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Finding success and fulfillment in the music industry is possible. Looking forward to seeing you in our next episode.
How to Connect with the Featured Guest:
Our special guest for today is Lynn Tredeau. She is an incredible and renowned pianist who lives and performs in the Pacific Northwest.
After discovering the music of Michele McLaughlin on Pandora, Lynn found her calling in the world of New Age music. She released her debut album, Echoes of Life, in January, 2015, which brought multiple nominations including Best New Artist 2015 by Enlightened Piano.
Lynn’s second album, SnowLight (A Christmas Memory), was released in September 2015. It quickly went to #1 on OWMR received many nominations and won Best Holiday Album 2016 at Enlightened Piano Radio.
In April of 2016, A New Dream became her third release. This album charted on OWMR top 10 for 8 months, was nominated multiple times and opened a door for Lynn’s music to be heard on SiriusXM radio.
She has now a total of 8 albums and many many singles.
What You’ll Learn
In this episode, Lynn Tredeau advises piano teachers to not stick too much on the curriculum, instead let students experiment and let them do some creative things.
She also shared where she finds inspiration for her songs as well as her favorite music book.
Lynn also answers the big question: Is music still a viable career these days?
Things We Discussed
“What the Rain Said” – Lynn’s favorite song
Connect with Lynn Tredeau
Connect with Jason