For those of you who have been active visitors of YouTube, Eeco Rijken Rapp, also known as freakyhead20, is a well-known name. He was one of the first to upload his boogie woogie videos and tutorials. Thanks in great part to YouTube, Eeco rose to fame and can now be seen playing on boogie woogie festivals and in bars.
When did you first hear boogie woogie music?
My first real boogie woogie experience was when I was 17 years old. I saw the theater show Boogie Woogie Train performed in Apeldoorn, the Netherlands. All those years before I had played classical music and I couldn’t believe my ears. I really wanted to learn to this genre of piano music!
Did you use any boogie woogie sheet music for piano?
No, I have had (and still get) piano lessons from boogie woogie pianist Rob Agerbeek. Also, through listening to old records I have been able to reproduce and master the authentic boogie woogie styles.
How long did it take before you had your first gig?
After having posted a few YouTube videos I got a stream of positive reactions and my first gigs. Once it snowballed, my success in the boogie woogie world had begun. I think YouTube really helped me to get noticed. In 2007, when I was 24 years old, I met my drummer David Herzel whom I still perform with.
How many hours a day do you practise?
That differs per day. During the week I may practise four to five hours a day but in the weekends I can easily spend the whole day playing. Once the boogie woogie bug has bitten you, it is hard to sit still. And, after all, practice makes perfect.
Are you now a fulltime boogie woogie pianist?
I am professional, but not fulltime. Beside spending a lot of time on rehearsals, practice sessions and gigs, I work as a piano technician.
What suggestions would you like to give to beginning boogie woogie pianists?
Make sure your left hand has the right drive before adding the right hand. In boogie woogie the left hand is the ‘engine’ of a piece. When your left hand is weak and out of pace, it is hard to tell a story with your right hand. That’s why you should first try and play a piece slowly. It is better to play slow but perfect than fast and then try to correct your mistakes.
You never know if there are boogie woogie experts in an audience when you perform, so you have to rehearse like crazy. Learning to play boogie woogie music takes time, even though people think it’s a simple three-chord business. You need to pay a lot of attention to rhythm, feel, touch, dynamics.