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Tickling the ivories: Jim Thorpe pianist follows a familiar path

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    Skyler Stabin at her Bethlehem residence with her baby grand piano. Scan this photo with the Prindeo app for a video of Skyler playing. KELLEY ANDRADE/TIMES NEWS

Published August 09. 2018 12:50PM

Skyler Stabin received her first set of ebony and ivory keys when she was just 6 years old.

After her father, Victor, purchased his youngest daughter a Casio keyboard, she began taking lessons from her grandmother, Florence.

Now, 10 years later, the Jim Thorpe/Bethlehem resident can be found playing jazz, classical or popular music throughout the area and the Lehigh Valley.

“It was really fun getting to play at Jim Thorpe’s Fall Foliage this year,” she said.

Stabin, a junior at the Lehigh Valley Charter Arts School, picked up her musical inclination from her family.

“My dad plays a little guitar and my grandmother played classical piano for over 70 years,” she said.

According the 16-year-old, the first song she ever performed was a year after she began playing the Casio.

“I think it was ‘Coming Around the Mountain,’ and it was a duet with my dad before my seventh birthday at my first recital. I also played a piece called ‘The Snake Charmer.’”

Her love of performing and playing music grew over the years as she graduated to a Young Chang baby grand piano.

“I can’t say I only have one favorite thing to play, but I love playing anything fast and complicated,” she said.

“I mostly play jazz and classical, but I enjoy playing a lot of Billy Joel and Dave Brubeck.”

Stabin said her biggest challenge when she began playing music at such a young age was getting the timing right.

“I used to have so much trouble with it.”

Though the teen has been playing and performing for over a decade, she says she still gets preshow jitters depending “on how many people are going to be in the audience, and if I know some people in the audience.”

As a longtime performer, Stabin says she changes her set lists depending on the crowd and venue.

“If I’m accompanying a singer, they would probably pick most of the songs. When I play at the Hotel Bethlehem, I have to play for three hours straight, so I have a set list of about 35 songs that are mostly jazz standards and ballads,” she said.

“I love to play by myself and have the freedom to play whatever I want. When performing, sometimes it can be restrictive, but it can also be fun depending on the setting.”

The teen’s love of music has sparked her interest in other instruments in the string family.

“I play a little bit of guitar, and I want to eventually learn cello or bass,” she said.

“I can see myself playing my whole life,” she said.

When not behind the keys, Stabin can be found “hanging out with friends.”

She has begun performing at The Hotel Bethlehem for its Sunday Musical Brunch, once monthly for the next three months. Her next date at the historic hotel is Aug. 26.

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