Amanda Walsh returned to CH to perform and teach music
Amanda Walsh started playing piano when she was seven years old. Now, 32 years later, music has become the focus of her life. She still plays piano, as a solo artist and as a member of two bands, and she also plays violin. In addition, the Cleveland Heights resident teaches piano, both at her house and at Motter’s Music on Mayfield Road in Lyndhurst.
Walsh, whose maiden name was Amanda Giesey, grew up in Cleveland Heights. When she was six years old, she wanted to learn how to play violin, but her mother, who played piano, suggested that she learn piano first. She started taking lessons from Ruth Edwards, who was on the faculty of the Cleveland Institute of Music. When she was eight years old, she started to study violin.
She attended Heights High and played violin in the school orchestra. Then, when she was 18, she was selected to play a piano concerto. That piece—Piano Concerto Number Two in G Minor, by Camille Saint-Saëns—convinced her to focus on piano. “That was a really big deal for me,” she said. “I was also playing volleyball at the time, and when I was practicing for the concerto, my piano teacher made me quit volleyball!”
Deciding to study piano in college, she attended the University of Cincinnati’s College Conservatory of Music and graduated in 1998 with a Bachelor of Music in piano performance. She moved to San Diego with her husband, and taught piano there. When she returned to Cleveland Heights in 2002, she started playing with other people. “That’s when I realized I could write a song,” she said.
By that point, she was also playing more than just classical music. “I started doing more songs by singer-songwriters,” she said, adding that she was influenced by the music of Joni Mitchell, Ben Folds, Regina Spektor, Neko Case and Paul Simon.
In 2002, Walsh joined a band called the Golden Mean with guitarist Ian Zickler. Then, she and her brother, G.B. Giesey, a drummer, formed a duo called Sparkle Motion. They still play shows around Cleveland. The Golden Mean broke up in 2008, when Zickler moved from the area.
In her current band, City Limits, Walsh plays both piano and violin, and her brother plays drums. Other members include Rick Szekelyi and Rick Sockel on guitar and Matt Urminski on bass. City Limits performs at many Cleveland-area clubs, including the Barking Spider in University Circle, the Blue Rock Café in Hudson, the Bevy in Lakewood's Birdtown, and Euclid City Limits in Euclid.
This past August, Walsh took part in a show called Songwriters in the Round at Nighttown in Cleveland Heights. The show featured four Cleveland-area musicians, each of whom took turns playing their original songs. Walsh’s songs included “In the Shallows,” a song about the Shaker Lakes, and “Little Bird,” which she wrote when she was pregnant with her daughter, Rachel, who is now eight years old.
Though Walsh has not released any CDs, some of her music can be heard on Youtube.com. Those songs include “Weatherman,” “Sun Shines” and “Closer to You.” She also has some upcoming performances, including a City Limits show at the Bevy in Birdtown on Sept. 30 and a Sparkle Motion show at the Barking Spider on Nov. 17. In addition, City Limits will be playing a free Halloween show on Oct. 16 at Wilbert's Food & Music at 812 Huron Ave. in downtown Cleveland.
Walsh, who now lives on Scarborough Road in Cleveland Heights, loves her hometown. “I’ve always been proud of living in Cleveland Heights,” she said. “I love that I am only a five-minute run from the Shaker Lakes, and I love the Lee Road Library.” She added that she also loves the strong sense of community and the fact that people make a point of helping others. She also loves the diversity. “And I love the church bells I hear everywhere,” she said.
Anyone interested in taking lessons from Walsh can contact her via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
James Henke, a Cleveland Heights resident, was a writer and editor at Rolling Stone magazine for 15 years. He is also the author of several books, including biographies of Jim Morrison, John Lennon and Bob Marley.