It has been over 12 years since my first day of work at what was once called the Chinook Keyboard Center, now the National Music Centre. My job description back then was quite simple and straightforward; prepare the acoustic instrument collections for their eventual use. After thousands of hours spent preparing the collections, I look back and think to myself, “I’ve learned a lot over the years. I had a lot to learn, but…I started in the business at an early age…”
Having grown up in a family of both musicians and musical instrument technicians, I’ve been immersed in music and music technology my entire life. Some of my earliest memories are of my father’s band practices. Happy Feeling was a Calgary band that played and toured with the likes of Janis Joplin, The Band, the Grateful Dead, Roy Orbison, Three Dog Night, and The Guess Who. They participated in a sort-of-Canadian version of Woodstock called Festival Express and even had their own TV show on CFCN. Have you seen the movie Almost Famous? Well, Happy Feeling was kind of like that.
Check out the video of Happy Feeling closing out an episode of Barry Allen’s show Come Together
The second wave of early memories that ultimately lead me to my career, was my father’s focus on family life after his impressive music career. He and my uncle opened and operated a piano technology school and restoration shop in the late 1970s when I was just four years old. I recall many weekends and after-school hours at the family business, helping in any capacity I could. Commonly, that included falling asleep under a piano. I look back and think that, quite possibly, I learned my technical skills through osmosis.
My childhood is arguably the foundation in a series of events that prepared me for a career at the National Music Centre. As the Chinook Keyboard Center evolved into Cantos, which has evolved into the NMC, I too have evolved from a boy sleeping under a piano to a bigger boy working on a piano. Or, to a bigger boy working on Elton John’s piano, or on the Rolling Stones’ Mobile Recording Studio. It is exciting to work with these collections so that upcoming artists will have the opportunity to create music with these artifacts. Happy Feeling probably would have been pretty happy if they had the opportunity to do that.
– Jesse Moffatt, Manager of Collection and Artifact Care