NUTLEY, NJ — Alexa Majana’s passion for the piano is split between two differing genres – classical and pop – and somehow the lifelong Nutley resident has found a way to fully immerse herself in both disciplines. Majana’s passion for music blossomed when she began piano lessons at the Nutley School of Music on Kingston Street at the age of 6 and, from there, has taken her to some of the most prestigious venues in the world.
Between working on her senior recital at Westminster Choir College, a division of Rider University’s Westminster College of the Arts, in Princeton, and practicing classical piano pieces, Majana also dedicates her time to a power pop band known as The Victory Drive.
Over the summer, she went on tour with the band and performed at venues throughout the country, such as The Elbo Room, in Chicago, and Proud Mary’s Music, in Atlantic City.
“I play (the piano) every second that it’s available to me,” she said in a recent phone interview with Nutley Journal. “If I’m not in class or driving, I’m probably playing the piano.”
Majana gives some credit to her grandmother for her love of the piano and she remembers visiting her after school as a young girl to listen to her play.
“Playing the piano has always been my way of communicating,” she said. “I used to spend so much time with my grandma and she had a piano at her house which we would play for fun after school.”
During her time at Westminster, Majana has performed in a master class with Simone Dinnerstein, her favorite pianist, and has also performed alongside the Philadelphia Orchestra as part of the college’s symphonic choir.
“My experience at Westminster has been so well rounded and I’ve gained experience on and off the stage,” she said.
With the band, she sings backup vocals and plays an electronic musical keyboard MIDI controller, which allows her to manipulate various sound design parameters of computer-based or stand-alone hardware instruments. Majana said that she enjoys playing the keyboard just as much as a grand piano and feels that classical composers would be enthralled with how far the music industry has come.
“They would be so impressed with how many more options there are, especially when it comes to the piano,” Majana said.
Majana’s favorite performance, so far at least, was when The Victory Drive opened for Aaron Carter last February at the Voltage Lounge in Philadelphia.
“It was just completely the best day ever. It was an absolutely amazing show full of so much excitement and talent,” she said.
One of her bandmates, Jamie McClanahan, sings lead vocals, plays the guitar and writes the songs..
After she graduates from Westminster in May, Majana will be attending graduate school at New Jersey City University to study piano performance starting in September.
“I want to be more focused on mastering the piano and in my studies with it over the next few years because I was very focused in the beginning and then started being involved in other activities at school,” she said.
Majana is now a piano teacher at the Nutley School of Music on the weekends and said that the most rewarding part of her job is having fun with her students while they learn their songs.
“I feel like I’m giving back what was given to me,” she said. “All of my teachers really inspired me and I hope to be that for my students.”