John Reed-Torres

Los Angeles
Upadted 2/23/2011

My name’s John Reed-Torres. I am 20 years old and I was born and raised in Los Angeles, CA. The first time that I remember hearing a hint of Ragtime was when, I was playing at recess in 5th grade in elementary school, and an ice cream truck came creeping along to the A theme of Joplin’s “the entertainer” right then and there Ragtime bit me, and simultaneously released multiple inner infatuations that I now have for antiquity, ranging from Architecture to Automobiles. 

Shortly after that I was blessed to learn the musical alphabet and the C scale. Lessons weren’t available to me at that time, so I taught myself exceedingly slowly throughout my middle school and early high school days, on any Piano that I could find, and on the Pianos at my Church. I developed a short repertoire and began to play for people and my church, while simultaneously learning to read Bass Clef and Trombone in the high school marching band. 

As I learned the bass clef, I taught myself the treble clef, and thus slowly learned the Maple Leaf Rag and Sugar Cane, as well as some classical pieces. This enabled me to compete. I won 1st place two years in a row in the School Talent show, play the sound track for a short independent silent film that earned 3rd place at a festival, and win a gold medal at the NAACP-ActSo competition in Los Angeles, where I played “Maple Leaf” and Mozart’s “Turkish March” thus gaining me an all expense paid trip to New York, NY where all of the gold medal recipients competed from various cities and states. I had been there the previous year on another free trip with the Debate Team to the United Nations where I spoke representing my school and our sentiments regarding pollution and climate change. 

That same year (2009) I began my studies at PCC (Pasadena City College) where I began to develop my repertoire in classical music and Ragtime. And I began my first formal Piano Lessons. I had to correct many mis-learned mistakes. I’ve performed at various venues around Los Angeles and Pasadena.

My influences are Scott Joplin, Bach, Chopin, and James Scott. One of my main goals is to teach and compose. I want to expand as many aspects of History, especially Ragtime into my generation; so that everyone will recognize it as a monumental form in the development of culture and Music; and not forget it. Plus I really like this music, and it’s very fun to play, I understand it’s language. I believe that music is a universal language which spans the globe, just like food, and art. But different genres are like different dialects of one language, I feel that Ragtime is the dialect that I understand and am able to convey best. I like when people tell me “you have a good understanding of this genre; it sounds ‘legit’. That always puts a smile on my face. Although my repertoire isn’t as vast as I want it to be, I’m working on Rags more than ever, especially the rare ones that people don’t play, like the works of James Scott, or Joplin’s lesser known Rags.

'Ragtime Cannot be stopped; It can only be paused.'