Artist, musician, teacher, coach, son, brother, uncle, friend. These are all titles I have been given in my lifetime, some earned by my own merit, others, naturally. At the root of all of them is communication.
A native of northern New Jersey, the son of a German-American father from Queens, New York, and a Sicilian mother from Brooklyn, New York, communicating had a very different meaning in my house. You see, northerners talk loudly. Sometimes it can be misconstrued for yelling, but in truth, it is really just a decibel level that is uncomfortable or unfamiliar to anyone from other places. And when you come from a large family, it is really easy for that level to grow so loudly, that it becomes out of control. Suffice it to say, I needed to learn proper ways of communicating at a very early age.
I received a B.A in Studio Art from the University of Kentucky, with a double emphasis in Printmaking and Drawing. Art is the first form of communication. Long before we ever had common language to use, humans communicated with imagery. The connectivity to this primal form of communicating is what drives me as an artist. Imagery can speak louder than words, at times.
In the same primal way, music communicates. From ancient tribal rhythms to jazz movements, love songs to punk rock, music expresses our every emotion. I am a vocalist and multi-instrumentalist, and I have played music both in bands and solo, in church and in bars, for young and old. Music can connect us all. (I even composed the intro/outro music to our podcast, but you only get to hear a few seconds of it each episode).
I was a high school art teacher for eleven years. Teaching visual art to 9-12 graders is a great exercise in communication. As an art teacher, the grade levels were always mixed throughout my classes. The way one communicates with a freshman is vastly different than with a senior in high school. I became a master at collective communication, explaining clearly and meaningfully, the course instruction, to the sum of the class. On individual levels, it became more of a personal communication, student to teacher, for each student. This allowed each of us to grow in our ability to communicate and understand each other.
During these same years I coached the high school hockey team. I also coached a travel team of peewees. The age difference between these teams created a very complicated process for communicating. A nine year old needs to be taught about defensive coverage with a slow and delicate approach. When a seventeen year old needs to be reminded about defensive coverage, there is often less tact and more firm reminding. Sometimes I forgot which team I was with in the heat of the moment. I also find that when your passion for something is deep, your levels of communication may rise to greater passion levels too.
After leaving the field of education, my professional career took me to a media company, where I was a Video Operations Specialist. It is here that I met Marshall Fields, and we quickly found that we had common ground on the importance we put on communication. At the infancy of PCHATP Marshall asked if I would assist him on this journey, wherever it leads. Without hesitation, I agreed, because I could see the positivity and passion Marshall had for this venture. I knew I wanted to be a part of it.
I have had as much failure as I have had success in communication, both personally and professionally. That failure is the reason I see validity in learning better means of communicating. The saying goes “What doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger”- applying this to learning better ways of communication will make us all stronger, and better people.
I love art, music, family, friends, and what they mean to me. Oh, and I really love the New York Rangers.