Lifelong Passion for Music
Local musician Alan Riffle has been performing music since the 6th grade, when he started playing the saxophone for his school band. “I found it quite challenging and really had to work at it, which I think is what intrigued me,” he says. The band director pushed him to try the flute and clarinet as well, and by high school, he was participating in events such as the Solo and Ensemble Festival, the All County and All State bands, and the WV Youth Symphony. “These were all fantastic opportunities afforded me by music education in the public school system,” he says.
Continuing to Share the Rhythm
From there, he majored in Music Education at Commonwealth University in Virginia, where he played in a variety of ensembles from saxophone quartet to jazz band. These days, his passion for music continues as he performs with the Jazzalachians, a local jazz ensemble, and on his own.
He also offers his services as a performer to folks throughout the area. “I perform live music catered towards a client’s particular needs, which can range from piano for a wedding ceremony, all the way to playing multiple woodwinds with pre-recorded elements for background music,” he says. He typically plays jazz and classical, but also performs versions of popular and country/folk music, depending on what is requested.
Thanks to his education background, he also offers music lessons to folks of all ages. He can teach how to play piano, saxophone, flute, clarinet, and trombone. “These lessons are individually catered, focusing on whatever goal and type of music the student is pursuing,” he says.
He also offers custom composing and arranging. “This is most commonly for public-school band directors looking for pieces of music to use with their students,” he says. “I can also produce custom-composed music to use as background music for video projects and the like.”
Stories Without Words
Alan’s favorite thing about music is how abstract it can be. “For instance, music without words can invoke raw emotion that isn’t necessarily attached to a specific thought, event, or thing,” he says. “It happens without characters or plot, or a listener can choose to attach their own concrete meaning to what they’re hearing.” He also enjoys listening to the rise and fall of melodies, interplay between instruments, and the rhythms of the music. “It becomes like a machine, computer program, or puzzle, to be appreciated for its cleverness or complexity. All of that is fascinating to me.”
While he enjoys all kinds of performance, his favorite kind is when he is able to play multiple types of woodwinds and piano within a performance. “I like the variety and challenge of switching between them over the course of the same performance,” he says. These types of performances are typically part of playing in a pit orchestra for a musical, but he is also able to do this with pre-recording backing music as a part of his solo setup.
In need of a performer, want a lesson, or just want to stay updated on Alan’s musical pursuits? Check out his Facebook page, where he posts updates about events he’ll be a part of, and more.