They say the family that plays together stays together. For Dunwoody’s Rogers Family — boasting seven siblings, including a set of triplets and a set of twins – it takes a lot of playing, with the piano as their instrument of choice.
The siblings, ages 18 to 25, have made “RogersFamily” the name of their performing piano group with its own YouTube channel, which in three years has garnered almost 14,000 subscribers and close to 2 million views, some from as far away as Japan.
Check out their videos, and you’ll see seven attractive young people dashing around the stage, alternately playing the piano – often three pairs of hands on the keyboard simultaneously – and plucking the piano strings, holding them down, hitting them with a mallet and thumping on other parts of the piano with their bare hands, drumsticks or even chopsticks.
But there’s method to their madness. Since everybody plays every instrument during every video, each performance is tightly choreographed. They call what they do extended piano techniques, which have names like muting, plucking, harmonics and percussion.
“We’re constantly looking for ways to make new sounds out of a piano,” said Corin, 23.
Admitting that everyone wants to play “the cool parts” in every song, they also look for ways to share.
“We try to spread out the cool piano parts, rather than just beating and snapping,” said Aidan, 23.
Though they don’t write their own music, they arrange and “mash up” the music of others to the point that it’s totally their own and totally infectious. I dare you to watch them and not tap your toes.
According to Keenan, 25, the group spokesperson, Corin and Bryden are the group’s creative leaders.
“They have perfect pitch,” he said. “They create all of our arrangements and mash-ups.”
For those of not in the know, he defined a mash-up as “taking two songs and smooshing them together.”
But there’s more to the Rogers Family than just their videos. Every one of them is also successful in “the real world. All of them are graduates of the Chamblee High School magnet program. Five have undergraduate degrees – three from UGA, two from Georgia Tech and one from FSU. One is at Georgia Tech now, and one is leaving for the University of Toronto in the fall.
Thrown into the mix are two MBAs and an MS in progress. All of the grads have jobs ranging from engineer to financial analyst to official photographer for the Georgia State Senate. Their mother is a full-time professor in the b-school at Georgia State University, and their father is a consultant.
They’re also really nice young people. Sitting at their family’s banquet-size dining room table the other day, I saw seven individuals with different personalities and tastes in music, but who clearly love being together, enjoy their creative differences and lack the sibling rivalry so common in many families.
When I asked their parents how they raised such a crew, their father, Gordon, attributed their musical talent to his wife, who gave each child piano lessons starting at age 3. He attributed their closeness in part to the time they spend together every summer on the bucolic potato farm where their mother grew up on Prince Edward Island, Canada.
He also mentioned that the reason for the banquet-size table in the dining-room extension they added to their Dunwoody home to accommodate it is that when everybody was still living at home, they always had dinner together as a family.
All seven want to produce more videos, but say they’re limited by finding the time to be together to practice and record and also by finding an affordable venue with a dramatic stage, good lighting, at least one grand piano and “room to run around.”
So far, they’ve been able to record for free on the stage at Chamblee High School, but they’d like to branch out to other venues, such as “a grand foyer in a mansion.”
In addition to YouTube, their music is available on all major streaming platforms.