• Please begin by telling us anything you would like to about yourself. Age, place of birth, residence, etc.
Well, I was born August 12, 1980 (hard to believe I’m 31!) and was raised just south of Chicago in Northwest Indiana. I lived right on the border of industry and farm land. Just a short trip north, I had the big city life and a short trip south, I had the peace and quiet of the open country. When I was in college at Purdue, I thought I preferred city life, but now I’m growing to appreciate the peacefulness of a small town where I currently reside with my wife of 5 years.
• What made you decide to play the violin?
I have always been fascinated with violin for as long as I can remember! When I was a kid, I was a ring bearer in a friend’s wedding and at the reception, they had violinists performing. I promptly fashioned my own mock violin out of straws, which I confiscated from adult beverages when no one was looking! I played air violin with them all night! That was my first encounter with the violin. In grade school, I actually asked our band instructor to play violin first, but was turned away because they didn’t have any for rent. I ended up taking home a Tenor Saxophone which was as big as I was! My dad promptly made me return it as I could hardly hold it and traded it for a trumpet. After playing trumpet for several years, playing violin was an afterthought until I had a horrible accident at work. For nearly 4 years, I couldn’t play any instruments while I tried to regain mobility and learned to walk again. One day, after physical therapy, we passed a music shop that had violins for sale. There was me, standing there feeling like a kid all over again! I later asked my doctor and physical therapist if I would be able to play violin without causing further damage. That’s when the light bulb lit up! They told me that they would incorporate practice into my home exercise program to help strengthen my neck, back and shoulder! It really helped motivate me during a pretty low period of my life! Plus, it’s a bit comical to see me sitting on a huge yoga ball, marching in place while playing violin in my workout clothes!
• How long have you been playing the violin?
I have been playing violin for nearly 7 months now.
• How often do you play? How long are your practice sessions?
I actually play several times a day. I would probably say 8 to 10 times a day for about a half hour each time with bow. Any other time, I can be found sitting my recliner with my violin in my lap without the bow!
• In your opinion, what’s your proficiency on the violin?
Definitely beginner! I was leaning toward intermediate, but there’s so much more to learn! It’s going to be fun!
• Your greatest personal experience with playing?
Just the other weekend, I played for a candlelight tour during a Civil War living history.
I had several challenges to overcome such as standing and playing, low light playing, memorizing new songs, speaking in front of a crowd and of course, my own nerves. Things actually went great! We had a crowd of about 30 or 40 people show up and the other musicians and I pulled it off without a hitch! It was a great feeling to have that ovation in the end and knowing that we did it!
• What other instruments do you play?
Wow, several! Almost any brass instrument (trumpet, Bb cornet, treble & bass clef baritone, bugle, tuba, et.), some woodwinds (alto/tenor saxophone, et.), strings (guitar, bass guitar, et.) and piano.
• What does music mean to you?
Music is what drives me in life. Either listening, learning, playing or writing, music is always a part of me. I lost it for nearly 4 years and it was the worst time of my life. It was at that point that I knew how important music really was to me.
• What or who has been your greatest influence?
There are actually several! My wife of course, if it weren’t for her, I wouldn’t have anybody else that I would want to impress (and who I met in band at our high school!). My old band instructor, who has helped me immensely from middle school all the way through high school. My doctors who allowed me the opportunity to start playing all over again. And of course, this site and all the members. Without it, I’d still be aimlessly scratching and screeching with only a book to guide me!
• What are your goals for playing violin? Short and long.
Let’s see, short term would have to be: learn my next position and learn to play “Granny Does Your Dog Bite!” Well, that might take a while! I’m actually attempting to write out and arrange a full violin part for Mary Fahl’s “Going Home.” Long term would have to be learning enough about violin that I can share it with others.
• What type of violin training?
I actually don’t have any formal violin training or have taken any lessons. I use books, Youtube tutorials and forums on fiddlerman.com primarily. I’ve been trying to use my previous classical music training on other instruments to help. But wow, violin is definitely different from anything I have ever played!
• How do you warm up?
Usually with scales on multiple strings, then one string. I’ll also start with bowing individual notes then 1-2 bow strokes per scale. Then play a few easy tunes to make sure my muscle memory is working.
• What is your favorite type of music?
Well, that depends on the weather, time of day, season, mood, how hungry I am, if I’m tired, if I’m bored, if I’m stressed……you get the picture! I listen to many different types such as classical, country, metal, rock, folk, Celtic, et. Right now, I’m currently on a movie soundtrack kick!
• What is your favorite piece of music? Why?
This is another tough one! I have a few current ones such as: “Ben’s Theme” from the Movie National Treasure, “Ashokan Farewell” by Jay Ungar, “Going Home” by Mary Fahl, “Old Rosin The Beau,” “The Ecstasy of Gold” by Ennio Morricone, “May It Be” by Enya, I could go on all day! I can call each one of these of favorite because I can close my eyes and actually get lost in these songs. They have so much meaning far beyond what’s written and you can actually feel the emotion behind what is being played and attach my own personal experiences to them!
• What are your 2 favorite things to do other than playing violin?
That would have to be Civil War Reenacting and Photography! If I don’t have a violin in my hand, I’m sure to have a camera.
• Do you come from a musical family? If so please tell us about them.
Not really. We have a few music hobbyists here and there, but not much. My parents often wondered where I came from! They didn’t even know I played piano for several years. One day, they took me to music store while on vacation and I sat down behind one and began to play. My parent’s jaws were firmly on the ground when I finished! My dad actually though the piano was an auto-player! I had to explain that I also learned piano aside from trumpet in school! It was quite funny!
• Are you a member of any orchestra?
I’ve recently played with the Highland Community Band (trumpet) and several smaller pep bands and community orchestras. Once a year, we all combine and play in the Chapel at Valparaiso University! Having that many musicians in essentially, an acoustic chamber, was mind numbing! But nothing with violin yet!
• Do you ever perform publicly?
Yes I do! Sometimes by accident when I take my violin to practice at the local park, though! I have been playing at our Civil War Reenactments for visitors and for candlelight tours. It’s nerve wrecking, but fun!
• What do you work with?
Before my accident, I was a public relations consultant and worked in media relations. I helped companies and organizations reach the public with new media and social network outlets while maintaining traditional methods such as press releases, media alerts and events. I’m basically a marketing and communication specialist that doesn’t need a sale’s budget!
• Would you please share with us information about your violin and bow and if you have several please tell us about them as well.
Let’s see, my primary violin is a 2011 Palatino VN-450 with the factory bow. For the price, it was a good buy! It sounds a little big on the bright side, but it’s actually starting to settle in. I also have another violin which I rescued from a garbage pile! It is a 1922 Stainer. Currently, I’m in the process of bringing it back to playing condition and doing a little more research on the type. It definitely has its own personality and style!