John R. Kowalski Integrative Marketing Fusion

My Musical Journey

My Musical Journey

clarinet, music, musician

Lawrence Welk started it all for me. Yep, you heard that right. A popular tv show in the early 70’s captivated me with one particular instrument – the clarinet. I loved the woody tones and ability to morph within an orchestra or quartet, jazz or classical. What a cool instrument my 6 or 7-year-old self proclaimed!

So when 5th grade band came around there was no doubt in my mind, I wanted to play the clarinet.

In high school I switched to the bass clarinet for symphonic band as I loved the deeper tones. I participated in many competitions and even was first chair in the state for a couple years in a row.

One side note that occurred to me in high school…. the clarinet section in band… girls. All girls, except yours truly. Take that you trumpet players! 🙂

Things progressed and when I started my junior year of high school I suddenly got the urge to learn saxophone. My bad director, was also a saxophonist and gave private lessons, so I was set. I progressed quickly and auditioned for the jazz band and made it for my senior year. Also, there were some arrangements that called for a clarinet, so I had that covered.

In addition, I played in a couple of small bands made up of friends. First up, the Bad News Blues Band. We did a lot music from the Blues Brothers Soundtrack. We also played regularly for a summer at this old dive bar in Grand Rapids, Michigan called Froggy’s.

In addition, I was a touring saxophonist for the White Trash Band. Great fun and this one did a lot of backyard or garage parties.


Music major on scholarships. Wasn’t sure I wanted to teach and didn’t think I was good enough to play professionally…. so what now? Marketing and communications, here I come. But I ended up still completing a minor in music. I started learning more piano here as well as flute. Loved my music history and theory classes.

Beyond school

My musical endeavors took a pretty big hit after college. Things like a career, relationships, kids, moving, etc. didn’t leave much time on music. Listening was always there, just the playing lacked. I thought about it often but never made time to do it or to find other players to play with.


music, songwriting, guitar, guitars, Fender, Martin

One birthday my wife got me a starter guitar. I plunked at it here and there but really didn’t get serious until covid hit. I had more time and finally this was the blip I needed to get back into music. Not a day went by without me learning and playing. Some time went by and I got myself an electric – Fender Telecaster. A whole new world there! I had also gotten a keyboard to get back into piano. Then another acoustic guitar and a banjo came into the arsenal.

The learning never stops but I’ve been writing lyrics, chord progressions and starting to put together songs.

Some of my working titles

  • Sign ‘O the Times ’23
  • Be My Daughter Again
  • Bright Star
  • Missing Moments
  • Free Range (Chickens) / Clover, Leave Those Chickens Alone
  • Tennessee Morning

Always learning, music is challenging, great fun and it provides a wonderful creative outlet.

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Find all my tips and knowledge about marketing, branding, and strategy here.

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It’s all about balance. Sometimes, you need to relearn how to play.

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It’s not all work and play. Giving back to the community is paramount.

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