Since 1993, Toronto-based musician, Tyler Yarema (then twenty-one years old) has been performing at the Reservoir Lounge, soon after its official opening in downtown Toronto. The self-taught musician (pianist and vocalist) currently plays weekly on Friday and Saturday evenings, beginning at 9:30pm. Last Friday was the first show post-COVID and was received extremely well by the patrons at the Lounge; a clear relief as many locals had their first taste of live music post-pandemic.
Though, I use the term “self-taught,” Yarema would prefer the term “self-educated.” The difference being that self-taught implies learning without external sources. Self-educated is more a personal study from both the artist themselves, and other artists and teachers and resources.
Yarema has been dabbling in music since the ripe age of thirteen, where he would play guitar in jam sessions with friends. At the age of sixteen, one of his co-dabblers brought their keyboard. As soon as Yarema sat down with the keys, he knew that his life had changed. While something beyond him (one-might-say, divine source) took over, he knew he had found his calling.
Throughout his youth, he would ditch classes to play the school piano instead of studying. It didn’t take long before his mother accepted this as part of his artistic process.
Upon asking Yarema advice for other musicians, he agreed that while things differ from individual to individual, as well as place to place and time to time, it really does depend on three huge factors. The first being, the patience and time to dedicate into learning a new skill and surrendering your life to said skill. The second being the commitment to jam sessions and playing with as many different artists as possible, in as many venues, locations, and circumstances as one can manage. But the third, and arguably most important factor is something beyond you, a skill set you were given at birth. To quote, to be an artist requires something that the “good lord gave you that sets you 1,000 miles beyond your colleagues” before you even begin the learning process. Many true artists can emphasize with this factor, feeling as though they are a vessel to their art and not truly creating it externally, but it comes from something within one’s self. A drive beyond their own function.
Yarema’s main advice for fellow musicians starting out – while things are constantly changing, just keep performing. Keep doing what you love. Keep learning and keep dabbling. Also, try out open-mic nights, as you never know where one avenue might lead.
Yarema has recently been invited to join the Downchild Blues Band as the keyboardist, the first show will be during the Tim Hortons Southside Shuffle.
by Sonetta Duncan + Pics By Paul