The other day as I was reviewing and organizing my music files, I realized how significant of an impact Jim Chapin had on my life, as a beloved teacher, mentor, and friend.
A year has passed since Jim left us to enter the heavens on July 4, 2009. How proud he would have been, Dom Famularo and Joyce Jacobs of the Harry Chapin Foundation informed me, if he were here to know that I finally earned the title Dr. Julie Grocki after fourteen years of employment, full-time school, and caring for my now octogenarian father in his times of need. Yes, Jim, I made it: Dr. Julie Grocki!
More so, I believe Jim would be thrilled that spontaneously I’ve been distinguished as “Dr J” in the music profession, first by Dom Famularo and then Coach Meinecke of the Harlem Blues & Jazz Band. I think Jim would have loved that. Now I am free to be able to once again focus on re-establishing myself as a drum instructor and clinician while diligently seeking opportunities in the employment sector in academe/higher education and healthcare, utilizing my skills in teaching, writing, and presenting educational research in social work, gerontology, physiological, and mental health.
Time can ease the loss and pain we all experience in a variety of manners when any beloved’s presence is gone from us in physicality forever. The absence of the individual and the vacuity he/she has left may be filled by the existence of other persons, places, and activities. Time may not, however, attenuate the bond of love one has with another, whether that other is nearby in the flesh or in a different realm. Love has no limits. Love never fails (1 Corinthians 13).
Love is eternal. This facet of love, this essence of something special we all have known at one time or another, cannot be measured scientifically. It can only be felt. This is an inherent and instinctual characteristic of our species. Such is why I am writing this: Simply, because my love, admiration, and respect for Jim is as strong as it has been since I first met him thirty-one years ago.
I would like to muse that there is a place in heaven for “jazzers.” I think the Divine Architect of the Universe could do that. After all, the one who created the sunshine, rainbows, and laughter can certainly devise such a dwelling. It’s not too big of a request: to have a jazz heaven. If there is such an abode, I am sure Jim is the heartbeat of the rhythm section, setting the pace and tempo with his fervent and vibrant drumming!
When it is my time, I hope to meet Jim up there. For now, I am trying to leave some of his legacy to future generations of drummers who never had the privilege of knowing him personally, being taught directly by him and being the recipient of so many lofty endorsements and complimentary accolades such as he has given me.
Today I embark on this new adventure in drumming as an instructor and clinician utilizing to the best of my abilities the God-given talents I have in speed and endurance, which are and have been enhanced by hours of intensely devoted, concentrated, and focused practice particularly on the methods Jim Chapin imparted to me. I vow to teach with enthusiasm, love, and passion the techniques Jim has conveyed to me. I will ardently use my verbal and writing abilities to inform others about Mr. James F. Chapin as the legendary musician and individual that he was and still is!
This is my small way of keeping a part of Jim alive forever. After all, it only takes one spark to ignite the flame of a candle. As it has been so aptly stated, “It is better to light one candle than it is to curse the darkness.” It is my prayer that these, my small endeavors in Jim’s honor, will help to keep the light of his love for drumming living, tangible, and visible for current and future generations of drummers. I miss you, Jim. May this message in cyber-space reach you in jazz heaven!
Until then, I remain,
Doctor Julie Grocki