[Harp-L] Chris Michalek

I have been a long time reader of harp-l but never posted a comment.
I had the pleasure of meeting Chris, his parents, and his wife in St. Paul this summer as he and I were both traveling there. It was a fluke that we had been communicating, as he built a harp for me and wanted to make a new one as I was having some trouble with it. The trouble I'm sure was with me as my skills do not include overblows/bends. He had set it up to perfection as he would have it for himself. I needed a "dumbed-down" version as my style is more coarse and simple. He was extremely gracious, invited me to his parent's home, made me coffee, and began to share some licks and techniques. We both commented about the karma that had brought us together, and he mentioned that he was excited to meet one of his customers who lived very far away from him.
What began as a simple transaction became a hour and a half session where he took time to help me with simple suggestions and techniques to improve my playing as I have developed some bad habits being self-taught. I have recently embraced tongue-blocking and playing octaves over the last couple of years as I had been a pucker - only player forever. I can't express how much his time meant, and not just the time, but the manner in which he gave the time to me. Completely self-less and with great care and passion in his heart for the music and for helping others.
I was looking forward to seeing him at SPAH next year as he has inspired me to work harder and take my playing to a higher level and attend the convention for the first time. Very sad but also a testament to how much implact he had as a player and a person helping others to enjoy the instrument that we all love so much. My heart felt condolences to his wife and family; if he touched me that much in just an hour I can't imagine what a loss this is to those who were closest to him.
Gregg Tucker
Milwaukee WI

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