Instructor Feature: Anahita Rokni

Next in our new Instructor Feature series: multi-instrumentalist and singer-songwriter, Anahita Rokni!

Getting Into Music & What Motivates Me

I first got into music because of my father; he listens to a lot of records. Whenever we were in the car, we’d listen to rock songs, lots of 80s & 90s music, lots of the Beatles, Led Zeppelin, etc. So he got me into rock music. When I was 5, I started taking music lessons and first played the xylophone, but soon found a passion for piano. I found the piano gives you a lot of options; different sounds and genres. But I also wanted to learn guitar. My father also had a guitar, but it was an old guitar and I wasn’t supposed to touch it… but I used to sneak into his room and play it anyway! Later on, I realized I also had perfect pitch. So he would play songs for me, and I would try to play it back on the piano. That also was fun and motivated me a lot as a child.

A lot of other things also motivate me, sometimes just listening to music. Sometimes, going through struggles and hardships is also something that motivates me musically. I read about other successful musicians’ lives and see that they all went through hardships as well; then it helps motivate me to continue what I want to do. Then also just listening to music and getting a chance to practice with instruments that are around me. I don’t have a piano at home yet, so I love to practice at the studio when I’m not teaching. I just moved to Canada in January, from Sweden; it’s hard to feel settled at first, but being around music keeps me motivated.

A Variety of Musical Styles

As far as different musical styles, I like classical music, but mostly I’m into rock music, especially 90s style. But sometimes I feel obsessed with the 60s; 70s as well! I like any music that feels like I can express my deepest thoughts…

I come from a conservative country, Iran, where they have a lot of limitations for women. So I feel like rock music is a good way to put all these thoughts together, and gather people who are angry so that they can express their thoughts and not be afraid of standing against injustice. In such a case, music is a way of comfort and support for yourself and your ideology. You can just be yourself with it. With modern music and rock music, you can write new things to explore and to process all the problems and things going on in the world today. That’s one of my favourite things about music.

Songwriting & Current Projects

Right now, I’m doing a lot of my own songwriting. I’m working with a producer friend in Sweden, who is also encouraging me to work on marketing – marketing is really hard! It requires you to have a lot of confidence, which is not always easy. I also want to release an album – we are working on producing and arranging it already. I’ve written a lot of songs for that album, but when I write songs they are mostly acoustic, so my friend works a lot on the producing aspect with me to make them how they should be. When you are writing the songs, it’s often all lyrics and chords, but you still need a good producer to make that song come alive.

As far as performing, I have done some performances of my songs in Gothenburg, but not yet in Canada!

Teachers and Teaching Style

I had a music conservatory teacher who studied at Julliard, who first got me into classical music. That teacher suffered a bad car accident unfortunately, but his successor had a really detail-oriented method. So whenever we studied a piece together, like a sonata by Haydn, he always analyzed it bar by bar. He always insisted that if you want to play good, quality music, that you need to listen to every note that comes out of the piano. So you have to train your ears to listen to every detail, and not just play the notes robotically. He had a good style, because he had a lot of different teachers, from different countries, and so a lot of different methods and techniques to use. He also introduced me to several other teachers that I had afterwards: I also learned some German techniques from an Austrian piano teacher, and then when I moved to Austria I had an Italian teacher too! But I would say I learned the most from that main teacher and still draw a lot of my own teaching methods and style from him.

I’ve been to a lot of concerts, mostly classical concerts, but a few pop concerts also. One of the best concerts I’ve been to was Ed Sheeran. It was held at a really large studio, and he said a lot of inspiring things. He told us about how he started playing in bars, and he originally felt he wasn’t that good, but eventually got the chance to play in a big studio, etc. So it was a really motivating concert.

If asked what my favourite thing since moving to Canada was, I would probably say Tim Hortons! Haha. But Tim Hortons is good, and Canadians are really nice and seem to be very easy to get along with. People here are really cool and laid-back, and I really enjoy that.

Anahita teaches guitar and piano lessons with Ekko Studio on Tuesdays and Friday. You can read Anahita’s shortform biography and also book lessons online via her page: