He now plays everything from rock to theater shows. He travels between New York City, Philadelphia and Washington D.C. “I play all over the place … in jazz cafes and bars and theaters,” he said. He plays everything from hip hop to rock, to old jazz and big band and classical.
“A heavy part of my income is playing in pit orchestras for shows,” he told high school students, tossing out names of shows like Mame, Hair, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat and Nerds.
“Do the pit orchestras,” he said. “You can make money later.”
Life as a musician isn’t easy, but he is making it work and he loves it. “Anything is easier than making a living making music. But if you are meant to do it, it doesn’t make a difference.”
To illustrate the changing lifestyle, he pulled out his calendar. “January is slow, which is why I am here,” he said, showing empty spaces on the winter pages. Summer months are booked solid … sometimes with four or five gigs in one day – causing him to drive from one city to the next just to fit it all in.
Writing music is therapeutic for him, he said before he and Veverka performed one of his pieces for the attentive orchestra students. He said he started writing music as soon as he started playing it. “Then I had to figure out how to get it down on paper.”
Veverka enjoyed every minute of his visit. “I am proud of him. He has taken his talent and worked really hard and come really far,” she said. “He is a great resource for you guys, not just about music.”
Some of his wisdom: “Make as many friends as you can. Your friends are the ones who will help you out. You are going to mess up. People will get mad at you. Don’t let life get you down.”
He said made friends with people “who were on top of the game, and they lifted me up. Now I can do that for others.”