Christi Stills

A composer. A teacher. An accompanist. An experimenter full of “What if-” questions.

USA

Author

About

A composer. A teacher. An accompanist. An experimenter full of “What if-” questions. My humble beginnings did not show a strong ability to sight-read the notes in my primer level piano book. However, something within drove me to try new combinations of sounds. To play by ear. It’s a similar concept of learning to talk first and then read later. I did, in time, learn to read the notes on the page. Music has always been an intricate part of me. Almost a sixth sense.

Music’s influences have played an important roll in my upbringing from my earliest years. My father would sing and let me strum his guitar while he held the frets – Mom daily enjoyed listening to the radio or hifi during my toddler years. A small, humble church choir allowed me to participate from the time I was just beginning to take my first steps! Even as I was still deciphering the vocabulary of grown-up conversation, the individual tones of the musical scale were developing into my “second language.” A fascination with film score and its emotional effects planted seeds for future imagination at the piano. Amusingly, I step back into my pre-teen years, remembering the time I discovered the melody line of the TV commercial for the Mello Yello soft drink. Among the delightful places I have lived in the world, opportunity has paved its way for me to be involved in musical settings – especially in the church. It has always been a privilege to accompany or provide music in the surroundings of worship or weddings or even funerals.

One of the most satisfying quests of my journey as a musician has been in teaching young people. Success for me is being able to pass on the joy of my art to new generations who show interest. Much of my composing journey has taken place because of the individual needs of my students. I needed the notes to be arranged on their level in a melody that would captivate them, so they would enjoy practice time at home.

Ultimately, my pursuit to fulfill a request for a CD of piano hymn arrangements blossomed into an adventurous journey of making professional recordings. In November of 2018, I recorded an album of sacred selections called All the Day Long. Nearly six months later, I set out to record a second album – this time a collection of original compositions called Lavender Fog – an album inspired by the earth’s beauty and enchantment that only a Divine Creator could imagine and produce. Both albums have been complimented with affectionate reviews by friends and new fans.

Music is a powerful element. It’s reflective nature can awaken feelings of warmth. Or sadness. Or joy. Or curiosity. Or emotions we never knew existed. Inspiration to compose most often shows up at random times. It is a God-given gift that sometimes gushes like a shooting fountain, or on occasion, dries itself up completely for a season. “Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow.” I am eternally grateful for the gifts of inspiring seasons God has given to me, and one of my most rewarding benefits is, in fact, the blessing of connecting with the hearts of other people through music.

Videos

Sheets

Interview

What does music mean to you personally?

Music is woven into the fibers of my very being. It is an outpouring of the emotion hidden inside of me. Music is a powerful element. It can influence a person to laugh or cry or meditate or simply just reminisce.

Do you agree that music is all about fantasy?

There is much imagination when it comes to the creation of music and using it as a tool to embellish the world of entertainment. Music seems to be a powerful language of it's own. Beyond fantasy, music helps us reach into our souls. Music helps us worship. Music stimulates our intellectual growth. Music often calms us.If you were not a professional musician, what would you have been? I would have been a school teacher. There is great joy and reward in being part on another's journey of academic learning.

The classical music audience is getting old, are you worried about the future?

Classical music is a timeless element. Music is ever evolving, as is our taste for music. I am so encouraged when someone of a younger generation approaches me to let me know how my music helps them get through a study session or helps them pause for a period of rest. I don't worry about the future. I write the music, because it brings me personal joy and satisfaction. It's an added blessing if someone else can enjoy listening to it as well!

What do you envision the role of music to be in the 21st century? Do you see that there is a transformation of this role?

The role of music throughout the centuries has certainly furnished a platform of entertainment for audiences widespread. For others music has been a calming mechanism. In the 21st century,those roles will likely remain the same. Transformation of roles will hopefully include stronger support in the area of music education and more benefits of healing therapies for patients and elderly people.

Do you think that the musician today needs to be more creative? What is the role of creativity in the musical process for you?

Being creative definitely puts a musician at an advantage. One of the highlights for me as a composer is that my "canvas" has no boundaries. The sky is the limit! I can experiment with patterns and sounds for as much time as I have available on any certain day. Creativity often happens when I accidentally play a different note than I originally intended. I love having the freedom to alter my creations however I wish.

Do you think we as musicians can do something to attract the younger generation to music concerts?How would you do this?

Connecting with younger audiences can be challenging in that we live inside a world of digital entertainment and instant gratification. I strive to be interactive at my concerts. I like to converse back and forth with my audience as often as the opportunity arises. Finding those connection points between myself and the audience members can enhance their concert experience and hopefully persuade them to become a devoted fan!

Tell us about your creative process. What is your favorite piece (written by you) and how did you start working on it?

Quiet time is essential to my creative process. My brain doesn't know what to do when I am in a quiet atmosphere, and consequentially, something inside of me starts inventing new melodies - usually when I'm doing something alone - like driving on a road trip. Mornings are definitely my most productive times! If I can spend time at the piano, I often experiment with runs or segments of familiar chord progressions. Sometimes, I can't even tell you exactly how it all came together! My favorite piece"Eternity" (to be released in 2020) is one I started working on with simple melodic octave patterns. On this particular piece, I would be inclined to say that God just placed my fingers on the keys to bring out the sounds He wanted to be heard. Can you give some advice for young people who want to discover classical music for themselves?Go to concerts! Explore who's who in the world of composers! If you are wanting to perform classical music, set aside specific windows of time to practice. Find a good mentor or a teacher with whom you can engage well - one who will help you make progress.

Do you think about the audience when composing?

During the creation process, there is often a particular person I have on my mind - perhaps someone who is currently going through a trial or maybe even someone who is experiencing a victory. I'm quite absorbed with finding the right sounds that appeal to me - which often takes days of editing and "polishing." Composing is an art I enjoy for my own personal satisfaction, but I do hope the end result will be pleasing to an audience.

What projects are coming up? Do you experiment in your projects?

I look forward to the release of several singles on major streaming platforms this year. I also have visions of collaborating with other instrumentalists to embellish my creations on the next level.