Spotlight on Bobby

Which ASAP class are you a part of?

“I am in the piano class.”

How did you find out about ASAP?

“My wife saw an article in a newspaper. It just happened that the woman in the newspaper article’s photograph was a friend of [my wife and I] from our military days. So, she said, ‘Hey, look:isn't that so-and-so?’ And I said, ‘Yeah, it is. She's in some kind of piano class.’ Somewhere down the line, several months later, [that article] popped back up in my head. I went to find the article and applied for ASAP’s piano program.I didn't think I'd get picked up for it, cause it seemed like it would be a lot of people trying getting into it, but I got an email saying, ‘You're in,’ and I was like, ‘Oh, cool!’”

What have you gained from ASAP?

“Number one [is] that this thing [points at piano] is not as scary as it looks. You know, I'm a musician. I've always kind of messed around with piano and never really could get it. More importantly, this program has taught me to have some focused discipline. I retired last October, so my excuses have gotten smaller in terms of what I can do with my time. But, actually it's been good. It's given me some more foundation for my music: I'm a songwriter, but I never used an instrument to accompany me. So, this class is helping me to do that now. One day I might be able to just turn to one of my keyboard players and bump them off and surprise everybody - play a little bit of blues!”

What does ASAP have to offer other veterans?

“ASAP offers life after the military. You can do things that you wouldn't normally do through its programs-- step outside your comfort zone. It's a lot of fun, and everybody has music in them, they just may not have found a way to get it out yet. This is one way to do it!”

What have you brought to the ASAP classes?

“Oh, wow! What have I brought? I think [I’ve brought] just a joy of music. I just really enjoy the music, enjoy the learning experience with my classmates, and enjoy making some new friends. If I had enough of them, I would give everybody a copy of my new CD. I am sure everyone would really get a kick out of that! Really it's just, you know, meeting new musicians and, for me, since I play professionally, they see a different side of me being in the class. I tell them, ‘Look, just because I play professionally doesn't mean I know anything about this instrument!’ When I came into class I said, ‘I'm humble, start me from the beginning,’  I did mean that. Some people say, ‘Bobby, you know about this,’ and I say ‘No, I don't.’ The instructors have been awesome--absolutely awesome. They are very patient, particularly when we have so many people from so many different backgrounds and skill levels. We have folks that say they have never touched a piano, and folks that are very advanced. More importantly, though, the instructors do what they need to in order to find out what level someone is on, and then what level they want to get to. There is no pressure, you know, we've all got lives outside of this class. Sometimes you get to practice, sometimes you don't, but there's no stigma, you know, there's nobody pointing their finger at you, cracking their knuckles, like in those movies with the crazy instructors? It’s nothing like that. It's really very relaxed, and, more importantly, it gives you a chance to appreciate the instrument. You get a chance to appreciate that, yeah, there is a lot to learn here and it seems overwhelming, but the instructors give you these little tiny bits to chew on - you know, eat the elephant one bite at a time. The instructor said, ‘What do you want to get out of this?’ For me, it's really the ability to play blues. I mean, all of the other stuff is good, and I like it, but really, last week was when, for the first time, I said, ‘Okay, I think I can figure out how to do blues on this.’”

Would you want to see alumni classes?

I think the alumni class or some kind of way to just keep the music going - some kind of way to give back, because, I mean, you really just scratch the surface, you just barely scratched the surface. It's just enough to wet your whistle. They say, "Learn enough to be dangerous," you know, so you're kinda in that mode. So, I think that, you know, you get hungry for it, but then the question is, "After you've done this, what's next? What' your next phase?" You get comfortable with the people that you been with, and particularly at the beginning, once you get that comfort level, you don't want to suddenly jump over to a new instructor, who might have a whole new way of teaching. I think the length of time in the class is good, I think the number of students is about the right size, I think the mix of skill sets is good.

What is your favorites memory of ASAP?

I think the very first time that we tried to play together was my favorite memory. The instructor said, ‘Okay, we're going to play one of the black keys, and you'll all be able to play at the same time, and it won't sound so bad.’  I was kinda like, ‘Really?’ It actually worked out really well, and that was pretty cool, because what happened right away is that it made everybody feel good. Everybody was so self-consciously thinking ‘I am going to play, and it's just going to sound terrible,’ but she said, ‘No, we're going to do it this way, and everybody will sound great.’ And they did!