One day when I was an itsy-bitsy kid about six years old, I followed the trail of bread crumbs back home from first grade. I went over to the family piano and plucked out the melody of a song I’d heard at school that day. My mother, knowing I’d never taken a lesson (and being a mother), threw her arms skyward and began shouting, “The next Mozart! I’ve given birth to the next Mozart!”. Thanks, Mom, but not quite. Years of piano lessons ensued and my musical world was Beethoven, Bach, Schubert and their deceased friends. There was no other music in my world save the themes to some then-popular TV shows, which I’ll have you know I can still sing.
But one evening I turned on Ed Sullivan and my world was changed forever. You could do THAT with music? I had no idea. They didn’t supplant Ludwig and friends and they never will; they just all share my consciousness.
As a young teen I was always involved in music at school, and became familiar with trumpet, french horn, sax and flute. Piano was still my main instrument, but I took up organ (my dear old Farfisa - I wonder where she is now?), and then guitar. I was playing guitar and performing a lot as I approached my twenties. One day two friends, both guitarists, called me up and said, “We have a gig for a trio, but we don’t need a third guitarist. Why don’t you rent a bass and do the gig with us?”. I did, and it was love at first pluck. I’d found my musical calling, my aural home. While I still play piano, flute, and sometimes guitar, I am a bassist.
There’s something else that I am. A teacher. I love trying to figure out the best way to explain things; the best way to get an idea across - not just with a student, but in life. My approach is always in flux; I’m always experimenting with new methods of communicating concepts. Just like I was a bassist before I knew I was one, I was a teacher before I knew I was one of those. I recall a day long before my formal teaching days when I was on a dive boat in the Caribbean, heading out to a wreck. I was sitting next to the dive master, a complete stranger to me, chatting, when out of the blue (pun intended) he asked, “Are you a teacher?” I was surprised at the question, and responded, “No. Why do you ask?” “You talk like a teacher” was his reply. Maybe that was the day the seed was planted.
I was born in Brooklyn, NY. I’ll never regret my city upbringing. It allowed me to be comfortable with all sorts of people, all sorts of situations. Because of Brooklyn, I don’t find cities intimidating. But I also don’t find them all that pleasant anymore (although I still go into NYC for gigs). I realized as a young man that I wanted a different life. While in Brooklyn it was clear that I had a passion for the natural world, and there ain’t much of that in dear ol’ Brooklyn. I used to get in my car and head for the mountains whenever I could.
My dream was to be able to go for a hike without having to turn a key in the ignition first. I’ve achieved that. I now live deep in the woods, and regular visitors to my property are black bears, coyotes, foxes, hawks, raccoons, and more. I wouldn’t have it any other way. My dog doesn’t know what a leash is, unless we’re heading into town. And I can walk out my front door and head off into the woods without a vehicle being involved. Mission accomplished.
The life of a working musician isn’t always easy, but I’ve been fortunate. I’ve gotten on planes for gigs, I’ve played to some huge and appreciative crowds, I’ve gotten some lovely peer recognition, and whether I’m gigging, teaching or lecturing, I’m surrounded by music.
That trail of bread crumbs led me to a very satisfying place.