Solo singer-songwriter Alisha Peru started taking piano lessons when she was 4 years old and has since learned to play sax, violin and guitar. MAMTA POPAT / ARIZONA DAILY STAR

Hearing her glossy, emotional piano-driven pop, you'd think Alisha Peru would have Sara Bareilles, Alicia Keys or Tori Amos at the top of her list of faves.

But when asked to name her favorite artist, there was no hesitation: "Aerosmith. I like classic rock," said Peru.

"I like music all the way from classical to rap. But my greatest love is classic rock. Van Halen's really good, too."

The 15-year-old Cienega High School sophomore says she doesn't find the isolation of working as a solo artist limiting. Does it make it hard for her to break out of a style and make her songs sound different from one another?

"Actually," she says, "it makes it easier. I don't have to worry about clashing with other people.

"I can work with a band, and I can hear it in my head and teach it to the musicians, and they play it in the style they have. With studio players," she says, she gets exactly what she asks for.

Still, she says, "Sometimes I miss being in a band."

She says her band experience was limited. "We played a few gigs. We had at least 25 originals. I wrote a few of them. Our guitarist wrote most of them.

"I'm doing better as a solo."

She says one factor in favor of the solo approach is that "if I'm writing and I have the band instruments in my head and I take it and play with other people, it winds up sounding like Evanescence."

She's confident, to say the least. Part of it comes from having more than 10 years of musical experience at the age of 15.

"I took piano lessons from the time I was four and half years old," she says. "After I stopped, I think I improved because if I hadn't stopped I wouldn't have started writing songs. I think after I dropped the lessons, I got to be more creative."

She still works at her piano playing.

"I play the piano a lot," she says. "I actually play the piano more than I watch TV."

She feels most comfortable at the piano, but has put in time on a number of other instruments, as well.

"I played violin in elementary school. I started playing sax, alto and tenor, in fifth grade. And I played that in the school bands."

Peru, who plays both acoustic and electric guitars, said she "first picked guitar up in fourth grade, but I didn't really play, play until a couple years ago."

There may have been some genes that helped, as her parents both played some as children.

"My mom played piano a little bit as a kid. My dad played trumpet in high school."

Peru says she knows what she wants in the studio and doesn't seem shy about getting it, even with people she doesn't know.

She says she "was technically the producer" on her three-song demo, "Searching in the Darkness," recorded last summer at Allusion Studios in Tucson.

"I hire studio musicians," Peru says. "But I'm the one telling them what I want them to do. On occasion the sound engineer will give ideas."

She says she's going to combine those songs with those from sessions she did in December to produce an album-length recording.

Her plans are large. College, she'll give it a chance.

But first, she wants to "take one year off after high school and go to Nashville and travel around, get my music out and just travel around."