Charlie grew up in California and received his bachelor’s degree as a Phi Beta Kappa from U.C. Davis. He has been studying and playing the clarinet since 1988 and has performed in numerous musical settings, from symphonic orchestras and concert bands to pit orchestras and chamber music. Charlie has been teaching private lessons and working as a freelance musician since 2003. He has a lot of enthusiasm and is eager to share his passion for music and the clarinet with his students. Charlie currently lives in Fond du Lac and performs with the Fond du Lac Symphonic Band as principal clarinetist. In his free time, he enjoys cycling, kayaking, cooking, and home-brewing.
What brought you to Wisconsin?
After I graduated from college, I moved to Minnesota to pursue a musical career in the Twin Cities. In the process, I also met a lovely veterinarian who is now my wife. In 2012 she was offered a job in Fond du Lac… and here we are!
What is your favorite part about being a teacher?
Oh man, there’s a lot I love about teaching! I suppose my ultimate favorite things are the “A-Ha!” moments of my students. There’s nothing more rewarding for me than witnessing a student conquer a technical issue, a new concept, or a tough musical passage that they have been struggling with. I still remember plenty of my own “A-Ha!” moments. They were always a big deal for me and great confidence boosters, so I’m proud to facilitate that experience with my students.
Why did you decide to play clarinet?
I remember this very clearly. I was in 2nd grade and one of the local high school bands came to perform at my school. There were a few chamber groups that played in addition to the full band, and one of the groups was a clarinet quartet. The sound of that quartet blew me away! From that moment on, I couldn’t wait to get to 4th grade so I could start playing clarinet, and I haven’t ever stopped.
If you could master another instrument, what would you choose next?
Well, truth be told, I’m already also a drummer. I don’t have the same level of formal training on drums as I do on clarinet, but I do have a lot of playing experience. Actually, when I was living in the Twin Cities, I wound up doing a lot more performing on drums than clarinet. I played in several different bands over the years and even got to do a bit of touring. I really enjoy the physicality of drumming, along with the different ways it allows me to be expressive with music. Clarinet is obviously very melodic whereas drums are very textural. I think the balance of the two makes me feel more complete and fulfilled as a musician.
All of that being said though, I’ve never tried an instrument that can play chords and that kind of bums me out. Unfortunately, all string instruments seem to boggle my mind, so I guess the piano is the next instrument I would try to learn.
Tell us more about one of your favorite hobbies.
I love bicycles! I think bikes are the perfect combination of fun, fitness, and utility. I’ve been riding a bike just a few years longer than I’ve been playing clarinet. I raced on the cycling team when I was in college. I’m more of a mountain biker at heart, but I do a lot of road biking too. My favorite areas to ride are in the Kettle Moraine and up the escarpment through all of the beautiful farmland east of Lake Winnebago. I’m also a big proponent of bike commuting. I was really excited when I first moved to Minnesota and I got to buy studded tires so I could ride my bike to work in the winter. Now that I live in Fond du Lac, I still ride my bike to work even though my commute is A LOT shorter.