An educational, FUN movie about how music works
by Lyris Cooper &
Directed by Lyris Cooper
Written by Lyris Cooper & Suzannah Doyle
with brainstorming by the
Springboard Improv Comedy troupe
(Voiceover by Kitzie Stern.)
Watch the official Trailer:
Genre: Educational, comedy
TYPE: DVD (NTSC), 64 minutes (all regions)
If unable to watch the embedded video trailer, please click here.
Rated: G (for GROOVY!)
Is it legal to have this much fun learning about music?
Lyris Cooper &
filming at the carwash.
Two composers from opposite sides of the music world (ear playing and sight reading) race to learn to communicate with each other in order to meet a career-defining deadline. Will they land the job co-writing music for the biggest blockbuster movie ever, or will the blackmailing, femme fatale mother of despised unethical composer Rachmanibach succeed in setting them up to fail?
Join our heroes Benny Bindango and Emory Chadwick as they sashay through film noire parodies, court rooms, psychiatrist offices, fancy restaurants, and dream sequences, and meet an assortment of odd characters who give them clues about how to understand each other.
At the same time, the viewer secretly learns how songs work, how to play music right away, and how easy it is to LIVE OUT THEIR PIANO (and music) DREAMS! Rated “EEE” for “Excellently Educational and Entertaining!”
Plot Keywords: Languages music play by ear sight reading chord theory
About the Film
Hey wait, didn’t you just read the plot outline? Well, since you’re reading this, here are a few specific things about music you’ll discover in the film:
1. Music is a language that can be “spoken” and understood many ways: by listening, by reading, and by chord theory (a combination of the reading/ listening).
2. Songs (the melody, the harmonies and the bass lines) are made out of just 7 simple notes (of a scale).
3. You can play oodles of songs with just 3 simple chords.
4. You can easily understand how songs work by learning 7 notes of a scale, 7 chords built on those notes, and snazzy bass lines (that give a song it’s “style”), also built on those same notes.
5. This gives you the tools to figure out how to play songs by ear (without looking at any music), how to sight read written notes more effectively (by understanding how the song is made), and how to make your own arrangements and interpretations of the melody, harmony and bass lines of a song. It also teaches you how to quickly and easily transpose a song (play it in a different key, using 7 notes/ chords/ bass lines of a different scale).
Pretty nifty, eh?
Find out more about how to play piano instantly using the above ideas with free factsheets that you can download right now!
These ideas (in the movie and the factsheets) were developed by composer and teacher Suzannah Doyle — who loves to invite everyone to find the music inside of them waiting to be expressed! But enough about that! Read more below about the amazing cast in Piano Dreams: the Movie!
Plays music by ear. Very well. Can really kick a groove with the boys. But doesn’t read a note of music. Will this get in his way when he has the chance to score the music to a new epic blockmuster movie with a fellow composer who has a different way of speaking the language of music than Benny does?
Can an ear-playing composer communicate with one who only sight reads? And why is he all sweaty and foggy in this picture?
- played by Eric Nepom
Plays music by sightreading. Very accomplished. Can’t improvise or play by ear at all, but looks dapper in a tuxedo.
Finds it challenging to have to learn to communicate with his new songwriting partner, Benny Bindango, who writes and plays music solely by ear (doesn’t read a note!). Can they possibly understand each other in time to make their career-defining deadline?
- played by Ajai Tripathi
An aging Femme Fatale who knows how to strike a pose. Favorite hobby: Blackmailing movie producers into hiring her son, the evil yet unfortunately successful Rachmanibach, to compose the movie scores for their epic films.
Will she succeed this time? And who does her hair?
And why is her picture in black and white?
- played by Jean Bonifas
Studio executive at Paranormal Studios.
His boss wants him to hire either Benny Bindango or Emory Chadwick to compose the music for the studio’s upcoming blockbuster epic move: “Raiders of the Lost Empire.” Mrs. Big is blackmailing him into hiring her evil composer son Rachmanibach instead. How the heck is he going to please both his boss and his old friend Mrs Big? Does he succeed in coming up with a clever plan that will save his job and the soundtrack to the movie? Hmmm, and why is his picture also in black and white?
- played by Paul Bezanson
A quirky, yet very knowledgeable educator who manages to appear just when Bindango and Chadwick are desperate for information about how to understand each others’ musical languages. Smart ‘n’ nerdy.
Has a peculiar habit when talking about the “four chord,” and, unfortunately, has a slight malfunction near the end of the movie that makes our composers’ quest just a tad bit more challenging.
Voted most likely to wear a home-made pocket protector.
- played by Andrew Schmidt
A compassionate, well-intentioned therapist who tries to help Bindango understand his inner feelings about sight-reading and about his feminine and masculine sides.
But in the middle of their session, he somehow morphs into an obnoxious fast talking salesperson. Could this be yet another dream sequence for which this film is fast becoming famous??
- played by Neal Gladstone
The voice of reason amidst the disorder in the court when Bindango and Chadwick find themselves on trial to determine whether sight-reading or playing by ear is the best way to experience music.
She introduces us to a very smart professor who gives the boys some very important information about how to understand music and start to live out their piano dreams. And she doesn’t seem to notice a mysterious character who suddenly appears in court behind our composers.
- played by Heather Hoglund
The guy who really has his finger on the pulse of music news.
He drops out of the sky into Bindango’s apartment to impart some crucial information for our exasperated composers, who can’t seem to understand how to talk with each other musically. Are melodies really made out of just 7 simple notes of a scale? If so, that would be Fan-TASTIC!
- played by Mike Bedney
Quite an expert on music. With the voice of authority and a twinkle in her eye, the professor offers evidence in court about the different ways the language of music can be spoken and understood. She gives examples of sight-reading, playing music “by ear” and by chord theory, which bridges the gap.
And just exactly who is she winking at off camera?
- played by Bonnie Jean Schmidt
The voice of an angel, with the soul of a Diva.
Will she let that “other” Diva upstage her during their passionate — and educational — duet about how melodies are made? And just what exactly does Beethoven’s Fifth have to do with all this?
- played by Barbara Case
the Other Diva
She tries her darndest to sing about how melodies are made — but a certain “other” diva keeps upstaging her — or is that the other way around?
Either way, it’s an operatic juggling match that does manage to inform the viewer about what the melody of a song is.
- played by Hannazus Elyod
A successful composer with a heart of mold. Er, evil, that is.
Something in his past mysteriously ties him in to the lives of both Bindango and Chadwick, unbeknownst to them at first. Oh, yes, and Rachmanibach is the favorite — and only — son of Mrs. Big. Hence, her penchant for blackmailing producers to get her “Rachy” jobs as a composer. Rachy’s character also employed an acting method unlike that of any other cast member. See our trivia section to find out what that is.
- played by Bill Prucha
A confident, enthusiastic rap star who knows how to groove.
Along with a host of other quirky characters, she shows the boys (Bindango and Chadwick) a thing or two about how music works. This sounds suspiciously like another one of those dream sequences/ montages.
-played by Maya Van Londen
Oog. Both his name and his most frequent pickup line.
Likes bones, long walks on the tar pit beaches, and collecting dinosaurs. Finds Barney a deplorable corporate mockery of all that is decent in the world, and is a big fan of CSI Bedrock.
Likes rock music, mastadonics. and spelunkering; thinks everyone should play with fire at least once in their lifetimes, just to experience an exhilarating Jungian journey into the collective unconscious, using the shadow as a metaphor for the primal self that gets repressed by the modern persona and also by using an underground setting and labyrinth office design to represent both the depths of the psyche and the dungeon-like isolation of our increasingly mechanistic society which prevents people from finding satisfying work or meaningful connections with others. Oh, wait. That was the Blue Man Group Rock Concert Movement # 237. Oopsie.
Favorite songs: Loves Me Like a Rock, and Oog-a-gada-da-vida.
Favorite band: Stone Age Temple Pilots
-played by Bob Kessler
the Entertainment News Anchor
Just when the movie is about to reach its dramatic peak, this anchor of oKMUZ Entertainment News comes on the scene to conveniently educate us about what happens to Bindango and Chadwick, not to mention Rachmanibach and Mrs. Big.
Do our heroes get their music to the film studio on time? Does Mrs. Big succeed in preventing them from doing so? And which character from earlier in the film gets interviewed live on this news program? Tune in to find out!
- played by Halie Loren
A heavenly apparition who appears along with an odd assortment of characters to impart some important information about styles of music to Bindango and Chadwick.
Have they died and gone to musicians’ heaven? Or could this be yet another fantasy dream sequence that imparts important information to our brave composers?
-played by Heather Hoglund
the “Hey, Mister” Girl
Who knew that such a simple request by the “Hey, Mister” Girl could throw Benny Bindango into such a state of anxiety?
All she asked, after he demonstrated a passionate, expressive medley of improvised piano tunes, was — oh, wait. You should watch the movie and see for yourself!
Here’s a hint: it has something to do with Aliens and sheet music.
-played by Kendrea Taegan
the “Hey, Mister” Boy
After Chadwick’s impeccibly-played series of sight-read classical masterpieces, the “Hey, Mister” boy appears out of a fog to ask our sight-reading composer a simple question. What could have been so intimidating that it sent Chadwick into a state of shock?
And could the “Hey, Mister” Boy’s foray through a foggy room have something to do with that of the “Hey, Mister Girl?” Curiouser and curiouser.
- played by Clay Youker
Playing music by ear? What does that mean?
Popular country/ bluegrass group “The Kindreds” makes a cameo appearance in the movie to demonstrate just what that means. The Kindreds is made up of singer/ songwriter Steven S. Martin; singer/ mandolin player Rob Pugliese; singer/ fiddler Laura South; and singer/ upright bass player Rainier Farmer.
This popular a capella group makes a cameo appearance in the film to demonstrate, with their signature luscious vocal stylings, how harmonies work together to support the melody of a song.
Absolute is Robin Patterson, Micki Reaman, Shelley Willis, Julie Williams, and Elizabeth Wyatt.
It’s udderly mad to have a cow walking around in a movie. So, naturally, it must be happening during one of those famous dream sequences. But which one?
And was the coffee de-calf-inated? (Groan)
Really, the cow scene was moo-ving.
I suspect we’ve milked these cow puns for all they’re worth. Time to mooove on.
- played by Laura Ouellette
Well, since we had a cow, we figured a cowboy would be a good idea, too.
This caballero is part of our wacky cast of dream sequence characters. He moonlights as a hypno-therapist (don’t worry, it will make perfect sense after you watch the movie). But does our cowboy wrangle the cow, or play a cowboy bass line? Or perhaps another type of ditty? Well, pardner, you’ll have to watch the movie to find out.
- played by Murray Lein
They say nobody loves a fairy when she’s forty. Not true!
This well-seasoned Fairy was pivotal in affecting the outcome of the movie. Did our heroes make it to Bismillion’s office in time to deliver the songs in order to win the contract to compose music for the epic movie? Or were they thwarted by Mrs. Big? Or did something altogether unexpected happen?
Hmmm, only the hairdresser knows (hint hint).
- played by Jane Sivetz
They say only the hairdresser knows. (Oops. We already said that in the Fairy character description! But let’s not split hairs about over-use of puns and cliched phrases!)
This seasoned stylist obviously knows the truth about Mrs. Big’s impeccably-maintained coiffure. And who would have thought that a crucial moment in the lives of Bindango and Chadwick would happen in his hair salon?
- played by Tani of Tani & Company
the British Narrator
Allistaire Cookie has nothing on this Masterpiece Theatre-style narrator who introduces a segment of this educational soire.
Look closely behind her to see gadgets, doo-dads and musical nick-nackery befitting of an English public broadcasting programme hostess. This scene was filmed at the Corvallis Benton County Public Library.
- played by April Brown
the Karate Gal
Bodyguard of the mysterious Latin-chanting monk who wanders through one of the upscale restaurant dream sequences.
Don’t worry, somehow it all makes sense — and her karate comes in quite handy at the monastery when the boys get a bit feisty.
- played by Lindsey Earp
A righteous dude who knows how to rock it! Unfortunately, we didn’t film any of that. But we did manage to capture him interacting with the Nerd, who was trying his bow-tied darnedest to explain how 3 simple chords are what most songs are made of.
Sadly, it seems that the Nerd and the Rocker might just have different tastes in music.
- played by Dan Fischer
the Society Lady
They say a picture is worth a thousand words. ‘Nuff said.
Well, actually, part of me wonders if the real reason we made this entire movie is just to see our dear friend George dress in drag for the first time in his life. Could it be? Not sure. But George was a good sport and, by Golly, I must say he is quite fetching!
Make-up by George’s daughter Johanna. Hairstyle by the Beehive Salon (either that or an swarm of bees that strayed from the nest)!
- played by George “Oy! I’ll never dress up in heels again” Beekman
the Upscale Waitress
Finally! Someone to explain what the heck is going on in this upscale restaurant dream sequence!
This waitress helps Bindango and Chadwick make sense of all the comings and goings of the cacophony of characters who waltz through the scene — at last giving them the final clues to the puzzle about how to understand each other musically so they can finish writing their song in time to make their deadline — or do they?
Plus, she did her own hair and makeup. Hmmm, she also did her dad’s (see above). What could that mean??
- played by Johanna Beekman
On-the-spot reporter for local TV station KAPO, and affiliate of oKMUZ, global music news station.
Offers TV viewers — which luckily happens to include Bindango and Chadwick — some crucial information about how music works.
- played by Marie Oliver
the Cafe waitress
She’s serving up more than food in this cafe dream sequence scene.
Distracted by a handsome strolling bass player, she nonetheless manages to hint to Chadwick and Bindango that bass lines might have something to do with giving songs their feel & style — which might help them finish the demo song they have to submit to Paranormal studios in just a few hours.
- played by Darlene Valencia
the Bass Player
Fawned over by our Cafe Waitress, this bass player helps Bindango and Chadwick begin to understand that it’s something about the BASS line that gives music it’s main feel and style. And speaking of style, isn’t that some outfit he’s wearing??
- played by Ted Cox (of the famous Old World Deli), who generously stepped in to play the part at the last minute when our bass player actor couldn’t make it.
Cameo Appearances by Local Musicians, artists & actors:
Absolute (Harmony song), the Kindreds (Playing by ear song, “Checking Out”), Halie Loren (vocals, Amazing Grace example), Kitzie Stern (voiceovers), Stuart Curtis (Femme Fatale Sax), Paul Bezanson (voiceover), Doug Ulfers (voiceover), Nicki Bezanson (voiceover), Andre Prochaska (trumpet Bwah Bwah), Lucy Watts (classical piano), Kayleigh Stark (classical piano), Barbara Case (opera diva-ing), and Oog. Also cameo acting appearances by: Rich Hochadel, Steve Coleman & Jonathan Munster (the Book Bin guys), Rollie Cordon, Rylan Doyle, April Brown, and Peter Eichelberg. Sound editing by Dave Trenkel.
Photo Gallery & Crew
Look for more here soon — featuring behind the scene candid photos, out-takes and silly things not in the movie, and a special photo montage: “The Many Faces of Eric”.
Runtime: 64 minutes
Country: USA, NTSC DVD, all regions
Produced by: Suzannah Doyle Music
Why we made the movie: Because music belongs to everyone, not just us professionals! We wanted to give people tools for understanding how music works, and how to start playing music right away — plus do so in a fun, entertaining manner, with many of our friends, artists, actors and musical cohorts!
Filmed on location in Corvallis and Eugene, Oregon, at:
1. Avery Park
2. Benton County Courthouse
3. The Book Bin
4. The Car Wash (a nifty place to do filming!)
5. Chambers Electronic Media Center
6. Corvallis Benton County Public Library
7. Corvallis Montessori School
8. Gracewinds Music
9. Hoop Jam Basketball event
10. Iovino’s Ristorante on the Riverfront
11. JeanJoan Piano Studios
12. Kiger House, David Corden
13. The Old World Deli
14. Polaris Psychiatric Associates
15. Riverfront Park Fountain
16. Springboard Studios
17. Suzannah Doyle Music Studios
18. Taking It Home store
19. Tani & Company Hair studio
20. The home of Lynn & Jerry Entrikin
21. The yard of Leland Peach
22. The yard of Steven S. Martin
23. The yard of Suz Doyle
1. Which actor cross-dressed for the first (and probably last) time in this movie?
2. Which character did everyone want to audition for/ play?
3. What happened when Oog & the boys started to yell in the courtroom??
4. How many “Hey Mister” kids were in the movie?
5. Which scene took the longest to set up and shoot?
6. Which actor was pivotal in the plot of the movie, yet never actually appeared in it?
7. Which actor broke out into wild improvisations during every scene that would make an entire film in and of itself?
8. Which scene was filmed in a car wash? And why?
9. How many different pianos and keyboards appeared in the film?
10. What famous classic rock song did the Rocker ask the Nerd to play?
11. How much duct tape did it take to film the magic piano playing hands scene? And Why?
12. Does Oog really play by ear?
Find out the answers, along with lots more info on goofs, gaffs, gaffaws and other groovy goings on during the making of this movie.
“Void Where Prohibited by BLAH”