My first teachers are not known in the music world. Some people might think they shouldn't be called musicians. But this depends on what you think music is and, therefore, what you think a musician is. Lena Neren, Herman Neren, Shirley Baker and Charles Bolter are not famous musicians but they were great musicians in my eyes.
Lena Neren was my grandmother. Now, this marvelous woman could take away my headaches singing a song. My grandfather, Herman Neren, was a self taught violinist from Poland, a real Fiddler on the Roof. He would play songs on his violin that would connect him to the 'old country.' He would be transported to another time and another place. I could always see a tear come down his cheek when he was playing his beloved songs. My mother, Shirley Baker, took away my fear by singing the song, "Whistle a Happy Tune," from "The King and I." My father, Charles Bolter, first introduced me to multiphonics when he would imitate an outerspace ship by whistling and singing at the same time.
These people showed me that music could heal, change your state of mind, transport you in time, and inspire your imagination with magical sounds. So, when I got my trombone, that's what I thought music was about and that's what I wanted to do--and still do. For them, it was a natural part of their lives. They didn't worry whether they had "chops" that day or not. Music just flowed in and out of them whether it was happy times, sad times, religious ceremonies, or just to have fun. It was a natural expression.
They gave me the inspiration to first see music as a living thing.