I performed on my Chapman Stick at the 2011 Interlochen Chapman Stick Workshop a few weeks ago. It was my fourth solo performance and it’s all Steve Jobs fault. That’s right, I’m blaming SJ for making me learn a new instrument and for making me face the terror of performing solo music in front of actual people.
I was a semi-pro guitar player in my younger adult life. I played in various jazz bands in the Madison, WI area and I really enjoyed it. Sometime after I met my wife and before we got married, I quit playing music. I didn’t just quit playing professionally, I just plain quit. All my guitars went into a closet and I shut the door. I thought I was over that phase of my life, that I didn’t need to play music. That’s the way it stayed for 16 years.
I even stopped listening to music. I love music by Pat Metheny, Miles Davis, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Chick Corea, and lots of other musicians that you don’t hear on the radio. I didn’t have a nice stereo and I didn’t go to concerts. I was really just done with it all.
Then the iPod was released. The first time I saw one I thought it was cool and I knew I wanted one. I waited, though, and my first iPod was a 3rd generation, 20GB model. I finally had a reason to load my CDs onto my computer. I could load all the music I really wanted to on my iPod and I thought it was great. I started listening to music, really good music, on my commutes to work. That was the start. That was how the desire to have music back in my life was started.
I loved hearing my music collection again. I even started buying more music. That went on for several years until about 4 and a half years ago. Listening to music was great, but I found myself imagining myself playing the music I was listening to. I finally realized that listening was not enough, I needed to play music. There was something missing in my life that had been there since I was a young kid. I needed it back.
So, I opened that closet that held my guitars. I also had a very unique instrument called a Chapman Stick. I was fascinated with it just before I quit music. I was also frustrated with some of the limitations of the guitar. I stood staring at the cases of my neglected instruments and pondered. The instrument that came out of the closet was my Chapman Stick. I put it on my bed and opened the case. The foam padding of the case had deteriorated over the years and was stuck to the top of the instrument. The case opened with a great ripping sound and my Stick was covered with sticky padding and the strings were rusty. As I took it out of the case, one of the strings broke.
What a great beginning! My Stick and I both needed some work. That Stick is now living in Australia and I have two new modern Chapman Sticks. I’ve been to four workshop/master classes and I’ve really put myself into learning this wonderful instrument. It has been a great journey.
And it all started with that iPod. Which was the work of Apple and Steve Jobs. So, it’s his fault. I wish I could thank him personally.