Currently in tenth grade at Malvern Prep, Steven Van Ommeren first joined the school’s music program in 2009, when he was in sixth grade. He has since played multiple piano solos for both the middle and upper school bands. Van Ommeren was recently accepted to The University of the Arts Pre-College Summer Institute for Music. Focusing primarily on Jazz, one of Van Ommeren’s favorite genres, the program is hosted in Philadelphia, and lasts for two weeks in July.
ZC: Why the piano? What made you choose that instrument?
SVO: When I was three years old, I was at the beach, and my dad took out a tiny, toy keyboard, and played a Van Halen song on it. The next day, I was able to play it back for him. After that he bought me an electric keyboard, and I’ve been in love with piano ever since. I’m also currently trying to learn other instruments, like drums, guitar, and bass.
ZC: Is there a musical background in your family?
SVO: Yes! My uncle is a professional drummer, and my aunt went to The University of Arts for college. Even further back, my mom’s great aunt was a professional singer, great grandfather was a professional bass player in Philly, and my great uncle is also a bass player.
ZC: How long have you been playing piano?
SVO: I’ve been playing the piano for twelve years, but I’ve only been taking lessons for ten.
ZC: What is your favorite part about playing music?
SVO: My favorite part of playing music is definitely improvising. It’s when you start playing a song knowing the basic song outline, but then you start making the entire thing on the spot. I love it because I’ll never play the same thing twice! Everytime I play, I get something new out of the song.
ZC: What ensembles/musical groups have you participated in, whether inside or outside of school?
SVO: I was in the middle school’s Jazz Band for three years, the high school’s Jazz Band for two years, and I play music with my friends (not professionally… yet…)
ZC: Which group was your favorite one to be in?
SVO: My favorite is definitely the high school Jazz Band. I’ve learned so much from it and it has helped me to become a better musician.
ZC: What was your favorite song from this Spring’s concert, and why?
SVO: I really liked Feels So Good. I loved listening to the song, loved the melody, and I had a solo in it, which was really fun to improvise on.
ZC: What musician do you look up to as your role model?
SVO: I have a couple. One is Alex Tran ‘13, because he inspires me to practice harder. I also look up to my piano teacher, Dave Thomas. He teaches me about jazz and music theory, was actually the reason I started playing jazz. For famous role models, I try to play like Bill Evans and Herbie Hancock.
ZC: What musical genres do you listen to? Who is your favorite artist? What about your favorite band?
SVO: My favorite genre is jazz, my favorite artist is Bill Evans, and my favorite band is The Beka Gochiashvili Trio.
ZC: If you had to try to convince someone to come to next year’s band concert, what would you say to him?
SVO: The concerts are always a great time. You get to see both the middle schoolers and the high schoolers putting all their effort into what they love, and it’s FREE!
ZC: Got any shoutouts?
SVO: I’d like to give a shoutout to David Bennett Thomas, my piano teacher. Check out his YouTube page. I’d also like to give a shoutout to Mr. Del Pizzo, and his band, Del’s Groove.
Interested in seeing Steve and the rest of Malvern’s music program perform? Unfortunately, their Spring Concert was held on April 30th, but you still catch them at Malvern’s Winter Arts Festival next December.