Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Comin' 'round full circle...

...an old phrase I heard once to describe an event in which something current comes in contact with its beginnings.

This is exactly what happened to me recently in Baton Rouge, LA. My bandmates and I were headlining a big festival there. Of the many folks there in attendance, one concert-goer happens to have been my very first band director, Chip Vickers. He was there with his family, to see my band perform. And although I knew he was going to be there, I cannot begin to explain the overwhelming feelings of pride and humility that came over me once he was actually there.

My father was the one who gave me my first guitar and helped me begin my love affair with music, but it was Chip who supplied me with direction and set me upon my true path. He patiently helped me learn the essential rudiments of drumming, and taught me to read music. He gave me proper inspiration and guidance that sparked a flame within me that has yet to go out. Although I was under his instruction in the junior high band program for only two years, he had an impressive impact on me. His high level of patience with me and all of the other students, instilled in me an approach to teaching that I try to use to this day when I take on a student. He also instilled in me a great curiosity for music...which led me to become an eternal student of my instrument.

I certainly hope that I have made him proud. I don't know how many of his former students can lay claim to having a handful of Grammy Awards on the mantle, but I'm sure that it's not many. I also hope that he understands that it is due to him, in great part, that I have become the musician that I am today. My love, fascination, and appreciation of music, and the impact that it can have on everyone, certainly can be attributed to Chip Vickers...he helped me to discover so much and at such an early age.

And while there are several others who have been teachers of mine- knowingly and otherwise- who deserve to be recognized for helping to mold me into what I have become so far, right here, right now, in this very moment, I am compelled to say thank you to him, and him alone.

So without further ado...

To Mr. John "Chip" Vickers,
Thank you. I have what I have, and have accomplished musically what I have because you, my dear friend, so greatly encouraged it all those years ago.
You taught me the basics of rudimental drumming (quite well I might add) and taught me to read music. Not just drum notation written out on one line...music. You taught me about playing with dynamics and with expression. You were insistent that I apply myself and practice diligently. Your enthusiasm and encouragement made such a lasting impression on my life. Whether by accident or design, you taught me how to be competitive with no one other than myself, and then challenged me to become the best that I could become. You taught me the value of helping others learn and the joys that come from sharing musical ideas and concepts. You helped me to appreciate music of all types, and most importantly, helped me realize just how much I love to make music.
You may feel as if you only taught me "the basics", but I can assure you that those "basics" have served me well and continue to do so. I have had many music teachers along the way in my musical journeys, but none of them have had quite the same significant influence on me as you have.
With all of the love I have...thank you.