Understanding the nuts and bolts of everything I do and then finding ways to benefit those around me with that knowledge has been a lifelong goal of mine. I became convinced at a very early age that more information is better than less and that understanding how to use it provided me with a certain amount of power. This was important because I was constantly adapting to a new environment and new people as my family regularly moved from one Army post to the next. I could read well and had good background knowledge, skills that helped defuse antipathy toward the “new kid” and opened the door to helping others.
The military life was obviously imposing a certain amount of stress on my brother and me, so we settled into a more stable, non-military lifestyle when my father became a high school teacher. Books were my close friends, a continual source of new things and ideas. They remained very important to me until I heard the Overture from Carmen, by Bizet. Here was a new source of a different kind of information that seemed very powerful! Having never heard orchestral music, I was inspired to ask my parents for a musical instrument, but flunking a music aptitude test put the kibosh on that. Back to the books.
But my interest in music never abated, so I started playing clarinet upon entering high school. Having a new challenge on which to focus my energy, it didn’t take long to see that my musical aptitude was good enough to consistently win the outstanding musician award. This led to my decision to select music as my college major, much to the surprise and dismay of my teachers. But with great family support for my goal to become a studio woodwinds doubler, I ended up at UCLA, placing me close to the music biz. I decided a degree or two would be a good hedge against a missing finger or other performance-limiting factor, but after years of undergrad and grad school, I decided to take a year off from academia and race motorcycles.
A year turned into five before I realized my luck at avoiding life-changing injuries might soon run out, so it was time to return to music. The lessons I learned through the dynamics of road racing would later be invaluable as I struggled to learn about musical artistry.
I supported my music habit with various short and long-term jobs that not only expanded my worldview, but in some cases taught me new methods of helping others navigate life’s annoyances. Whether I was pumping gas or managing the production of industrial food processing machines, I was aware of how I was becoming a generalist in my approach to moving through life. So many differences in people and things, but I was beginning to see the same dynamics in how things get done. I became alert to the extremes in various disciplines, whether it was the insanely exhausting work I experienced as a charge loader in a brass foundry, or the extreme precision I learned from my brother in building competition engines, I began to see the interrelatedness of these diverse activities. A two-year stint as a photographer’s apprentice introduced me to the world of information conveyed by light, and leveraging my knowledge of sound systems by specifying high-end audio systems provided me with further insight about the power of music and the technology behind such systems.
I got a couple of big boosts in learning about personal dynamics when I backed into a high school vice principal job and also when I was an apartment manager for a few years. My best day job while pursuing a life in music was when I became a paralegal at a large law firm. Besides the flexibility that was so helpful when my musical activities collided with working hours, I was able to apply much of what I learned in other jobs to the diverse demands of this segment of the working world. Best of all, I was pressure-fed a completely new perspective on the dynamics of law and politics and learned how to multitask in this environment.
I felt successful at continuously gaining a new perspective throughout my life by consciously gathering information and learning how to apply it. But I was seriously challenged while studying with my musical mentor, Phil Sobel. The product of that quest is described in my book, Sounds In The Mirror. In it, I attempt to unravel the revolutionary, but hard to explain method of teaching artistry via the Lindeman method. Although my 13 years of study with Phil was a difficult journey, it rewarded me with the skills I needed to actually reach my goal. Ironically, the music business had changed during the years of my study to a point that it was no longer my cup of tea.
My fallback was in another area of seemingly unlimited potential, the world of technology. Being involved in managing technology in large law firms became my next career for over 20 years. I now have a busy life in retirement with my wife and Lhasa Apso in Southern California where I work at giving back through community activism , coaching musicians privately and at a local school, and researching and preparing articles on topics I find interesting.