As many of you know, my name is Tara and I’m the founder and creator of The Cascade Method, as well as the piano reading tool, NoteMatch. I also happen to be an artist! If you didn’t already know, I released my first album when I was 20 years old, and now, I’m currently working on my FIFTH album!
I’ve always kept my composition separate from my teaching career because I decided to express the two very differently. I’ve always made my artist website and albums super dark and edgy. The only reason I’ve portrayed my music as dark is because I gravitate towards the minor keys but dark and edgy does not express MY personality or passion whatsoever!
So, I decided it was time for a rebrand. ✨
It was time to start showing the person behind the music because the truth is… I love everything pretty and pink. 💖😂 Most importantly, I want this new brand to express—everything I create, whether it’s for the Cascade Method or it’s a new composition—is all stemming from an undying passion for the piano. 💖
How I Started Playing Piano, Writing My Own Compositions, and Building a Piano Teaching Business
I know it sounds cliche, but it truly was love at first sight. When I was four years old, I would run over to my neighbor’s house and watch as she gave singing lessons. In between students, I would jump on the piano and try to mimic her warm-up exercises. She told my mom the fascination I had with the piano… A little surprised, my mom took notice and started setting aside $20 bills in a little envelope until, one day, she found a family in need of selling their piano.
I haven’t stopped playing since the day that piano showed up at our home.
From that moment on, my life has literally revolved around this instrument! I started playing the piano at four and a half years old. At age 13, I studied at the Conservatory of Fontainebleau in France, and then by age 14, I was teaching lessons to younger kids! When I was 16 years old, I got into the Preparatory Division of the San Francisco Conservatory and also composed my first piece, Cascade! 😉
I’ve taught piano ever since I was 14 and haven’t stopped since. It’s what supported me financially through college when I attended Chapman to study and graduate with my B.M in Music Therapy, specializing in children with special needs.
Still teaching with a total roster of 15 students, I did a seven-month internship at Music to Grow On in Sacramento, all while still composing my own music, too!
Once my internship was complete, I was back home and my piano business exploded. I was teaching 40+ students seven days a week and I realized it wasn’t sustainable, so I started training my own students who were 15-16 years old to teach.
And that’s how my music school began. Since 2011, I’ve been outsourcing and training my own students, as well as teachers from all over to play using The Cascade Method.
As my music school was taking off, so were my compositions. I released my first album, Cascade, in 2009. My second album, Petites Inspirations, in 2010. My third album, My Love For You, in 2011 and my fourth album, Unchained, in 2015.
Then came the invention of the piano reading tool, NoteMatch! 👏🏻😍 In 2016, I finally released NoteMatch to the market as well as started the Cascade Method online teacher training program. Ever since then, I’ve been working on my fifth album and creating a library of resources for my certified piano teachers including a full Cascade Method book collection, as well as piano games, activities, and (of course) blogs!
The Truth About The Girl Behind The Keys
Aside from being absolutely captivated by the piano, music has always meant more to me than just a hobby or talented thing I can do. Growing up, music was my escape. Oftentimes, when I hear from the people that listen to my music, they say that it moved them and made them feel a certain emotion, or helped them get through a difficult time.
It just goes to show that music can speak louder than words. My father was an addict of all sorts, physically abusive towards my mom and brother, and definitely emotionally abusive to all three of us. When my mom decided to file for divorce, my dad depreciated from that moment forward. Our childhood home basically became a crash pad for homeless drug addicts, living in the bedrooms we grew up in. It wasn’t too long before a SWAT team came in and shut it down. My father was on the streets and not doing well. At one point, we had a 10-year restraining order in place. About four years ago, I heard he was living out of his car and getting really sick. I reconnected with him and would leave him $20 bills in my carport so he could get food. It broke my heart to see my dad like this. Obviously, I love my dad but he had a problem and it was toxic to be around him.
Soon after that, I heard he was in the hospital and it wouldn’t be long before he was gone. My brother and I went to see him one last time to say our goodbyes and leave things on a higher note. He passed away two weeks later.
With all that said, if you know me in the slightest bit, you’d probably never expect that to be my childhood story. However, it’s shaped me into who I am and I believe it definitely has shaped my music into what it is.
My dad used to always tell me growing up that I should sing while playing the piano. He felt I had to use my voice in order to be heard, to actually have something that was worth saying.
But I’ve always felt and known that I had a voice through my fingers. In my first three albums, I played soft, almost like background music and it was because I was holding back. Finally, in my fourth album, I was done holding back. No more hiding and no more thinking I needed to be something more than what I was.
The album, Unchained, incorporates 17 other orchestral instruments, which I wrote and arranged all the parts. It was my way of conquering the pressure and judgment that I felt from others and saying, “This is who I am. This is what I’m capable of, and this is what I was made to do!”
It’s All Just An Unwavering Passion for the Piano
I think it’s important to be open about your story. It explains a lot about how you carry yourself and it can help someone else who may be going through something similar or completely different. I’ve experienced a lot of pain and despair in my life. Starting with my dad’s addiction, losing my beloved grandmother, and also suffering from two miscarriages. Life hasn’t been easy, but that doesn’t mean it is all bad.
If there’s one thing that has stayed constant and always been there for me, it’s music. I’m a bubbly, passionate, and loving person. I love to teach, I love kids, and I love everything about the piano!
To put a conclusion on the story, my mom and brother are perfectly healthy and happy individuals. We have a great family dynamic and leave the bad parts of our past in the past where they belong. I’m happily married to the love of my life and we just had our first healthy baby boy, Jordan Thomas Boykin. 💙
My fifth album is going well! I always wanted to compose while being pregnant so the past nine months have been very inspirational and filled with emotion. I’m excited to connect my artist life with my teaching career. I hope that no matter how you come across my pages, you can feel the unwavering passion that all of this truly stems from.
Thank you for reading! Be sure to check out the new site here! 💖🎶🎹