Music is one of those things that truly makes the world go round 🎶🌎🎷🎵💙✨
One of the few benefits of COVID-19 is/was that it gave us time. Time to reflect. Time to dream. Time to pick up a hobby. Time to revisit a hobby.
At 11 years old, I joined my school’s band in September of 2000 (yes, the year we feared the ‘millennium’). I wanted to be a Woodwind player and chose the clarinet as my first instrument. Just a year later, I added the alto saxophone, soprano saxophone, and flute to my repertoire so that I could play in jazz band and the pit orchestra for all my high school's plays and musicals. I was a lead player in both the Wind and Jazz Ensembles throughout high school and even recorded a CD during my junior year to send out to colleges (If you want a copy, I still have some in stock!).
It was a no-brainer to audition for the college Marching and Varsity Bands once I found out I was accepted to UCLA in the spring of 2007...So, I did just that.
Alto Sax for the BruWIN!
I didn't bring my instruments with me when I moved to the East Coast in January 2011 to start working at ESPN. So, essentially, I took a few years "off".
I dabbled with my instruments when I moved back to Los Angeles in 2014, but it was never anything as serious as playing in an organized band.
I also didn't bring them to Japan when I was splitting my time there in 2018-2020, because, well...Japan is not a "LOUD" culture. I would have gotten kicked out of our apartment complex (and probably the country) for playing a B flat major scale on my saxophone...
Fast forward to 2020...the beginning of this global pandemic. What to do with spare time? For me, it was a lot of things...exercise / working out, planning our next move back to the states, and picking back up a hobby and passion I love so dearly...MUSIC.
After a few months of rusty saxophone practicing, I realized that I needed a repair. Not many places were open or reliable, but I eventually found Sam Ash music store. After calling to inquire about repairs and how that would work during a pandemic, I was referred to their "Saxophone Specialist," Kyle Stolz.
I drove from Camarillo to Hollywood several times over the course of early 2021 to make sure that my alto and soprano saxophones were getting the best tune-ups. Kyle, a professional baritone saxophone player, made the experience both fun and memorable. The best part of this whole experience, is that I found a new instrument that stole my heart (and my wallet).
In June of 2021, I spontaneously bought the dream soprano sax I've always wanted!
NOTE: I ALWAYS wanted a curved soprano (umm, hello...look how cute they are!).
After this experience, or should I say, these experiences...I asked Kyle if he'd be willing to tell me how COVID-19 affected him.
See below for my Covid in California interview with him, the Bari-Amazing Sax Master:
RR: How has COVID-19 impacted you personally?
KS: "Nothing happened to me that would not have happened to me pre-pandemic. If anything, I trust news networks less (not that I trusted them much to begin with), I struggled financially a little more, I sat in way less traffic, and watched a lot more movies."
"I ended one of the worst relationships I’ve ever been in because of the pandemic and began the most amazing relationship with the woman of my dreams because of the pandemic."
RR: Did you or anyone you know get COVID-19?
KS: "Yes I had a few close friends and coworkers that got it. Thankfully nobody I am close to died from it."
RR: What specifically changed your personal / professional life during this time? I.E. What daily routine did you have to adjust?
KS: "My place of work, Hollywood Sam Ash Music, closed for about 3 months. Luckily I was able to pick up side work renovating apartments to keep me occupied. AND I was still able to fix instruments from home during the closure for those customers that had my cell number."
"After we (Sam Ash Music) re-opened, my repair business was VERY slow. The store had downsized the staff significantly and required my help on the sales floor often. BUT, when you work on the sales floor at Sam Ash, you’re able to introduce yourself as the Repair technician and meet A LOT of new customers!"
RR: Is there a story behind your mask?
KS: "I don’t know anybody that DOESN’T have a story behind their mask. But my stories are the same I tell wearing a mask or not. Come and hang with me next time you have an instrument to fix, I have plenty to share."
RR: What do you miss most about life before COVID-19?
KS: "LIVE MUSIC, LIVE SHOWS!!!
"Going from a full time job and 2-6 gigs in the evenings to unemployed...I didn’t know what to do with myself!"
RR: What has COVID-19 made you grateful for?
KS: "Covid made me grateful for allowing me to spend more time with my family and making me realize that my close circle of friends are damn near like my family. And the awesome people I keep in my life...I keep them there for a great reason."
RR: What has been the biggest challenge for you during this time?
KS: "Aside from coming up with amazing covid-friendly date ideas, challenges to me are part of everyday life. This pandemic hasn’t been abnormally challenging but merely presented me with different challenges."
RR: What are you most excited for when things return to “normal”?
KS: "LIVE MUSIC, LIVE SHOWS!!!"
Thank you, Kyle, for sharing your story with me and for selling me the cutest, curved, Cannonball soprano sax I could have ever imagined!
If you or anyone you know would like to be featured, please direct message me on social media or shoot me an email - I’d love to share your story with the world! 🌎
And, if you haven't done so already, please follow along this journey with me on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter - and share it with your community! The whole point of this project is to connect humans during a time of so much uncertainty.
Much love, health, and happiness,