When John Cramer was 6 years old, he hated the violin. He wanted to play the piano, but his family only owned an old violin that his father played long ago, so he bore with it and followed in his father's footsteps. His mom also sang in a choir, leaving the Cramer household with everything but a shortage of musicality.
Photo courtesy of John Cramer
Eventually, once Cramer started playing in a string quartet during high school, music became a lens through which he started seeing the world. "We would get together after school and just play. Most teenagers would want to go to the mall or go play sports. For me and for my friends, we were just music nerds. Fun for us was to go to the music stores and buy sheet music or going to the record store to pick up an album. We'd go home and we'd listen to it and we'd want to play the music. It was really about being able to make music. That was, for me, what was always very exciting."
When he translated his passion for music into a career, he initially tried to make it as a freelance musician, taking gigs every time they were offered to him. But with a young family to provide for, he realized this wasn't viable and that he needed a day job. "For me to be a freelance musician now means that I've given myself the freedom where I don't have to focus on my violin playing for my survival. I have another job that pays the bills. So that allows me the best of both worlds--I'm able to play music, the music that I enjoy and not the music that I have to do, and it's more on my terms."
It's this understanding of the financial struggles that young artists face that makes Cramer so adamant about appreciating and supporting the local arts scene. "If someone is doing a cello recital or a violin recital, I definitely want to go. If someone is doing a reading of a novel that they've published or a book of poetry, an art exhibition of their work, for me that still is important to support, especially with the local artists. Because it's a tough, tough business."More »