Words of an Accomplished Artist: Senior Feature with Tim Picard


Haddy W. Dardir , Editor and Staff Writer

A couple of months ago, on December 4th, the Westlake City Schools website posted a headline titled “2 WHS Musicians Named Among Nation’s Most Accomplished Young Artists.” Those two musicians, as the article read, were seniors Graeham Guerin and Tim Picard, who both earned significant recognition from the National YoungArts Foundation. The article went on to read how Graeham was a finalist in Jazz/Double Bass, while Tim was recognized for Jazz Guitar at the Merit Level. Both currently take classes at Tri-C, where they participate in several music ensembles, and each have plans of becoming professional musicians. In addition, the article stated that Tim’s older brother, Rob, was also a YoungArts Merit winner his senior year for jazz percussion. After hearing of these musicians, I decided that it would probably be a good idea to interview them for the Green and White. Unfortunately, I was unable to interview Graeham directly due to Mrs. Kruse telling me he doesn’t have a schedule at WHS, with his day completely being spent at Tri-C. When I asked about Tim, however, he happened to have his study hall at the exact same time as my lunch period.

When I walked into his study hall room, I looked around, and thought I wouldn’t be able to write this article. All the kids were familiar faces I’ve seen before, and I wondered if the teachers might’ve been mistaken in leading me to Tim. However, when I asked the study hall teacher if Tim was present, she pointed me towards the right direction. It turned out that it wasn’t that Tim was absent from the room, but simply blending in perfectly with his environment, wearing a shaggy mop of brown hair that didn’t indicate any extraordinary traits. When interviewing him, the contrary smoothly permeated through him in a soft-spoken manner.

Like a tree in a forest, not only does it blend in with its environment, but also owes its growth as a strong, sturdy organism to the environment that raised it. “When I was little, I really only played music for fun with my brother, and I didn’t really do a lot of school-type things.” After being asked multiple questions, Tim further elaborates on how his family helped him grow into the musician he is today.

The greatest opportunity Tim believes he has taken advantage of is attending summer sessions at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, New York. He said he did it twice, and learned a lot from the teachers there. “They send me to places where I learn about music, pretty much. [Haddy: Places like what?] [Places like] Tri-C, and they pay for my education at the camps I do in New York and stuff. I actually did the high school program there [at Tri-C] since I was in 7th grade.” 

Like any musician, Tim didn’t fail to answer when asked about his passion for his craft. “Like I said, it’s kind of the only thing I really did. That’s just what I cared about when I was a kid.” Tim additionally said that before he started playing guitar in fifth grade, he played music for fun through piano.  

-Wynton Marsalis performing.

Like how Wynton Marsalis said in his top twelve ways to practice—in which he warns of distractions—Tim was asked if he ever had any distractions conflicting with his practicing routine (currently being three hours a day). “I still have a lot of distractions. Just modern-day society is really distracting.” Balance was another issue Marsalis discussed in his top twelve, giving advice on how to balance your instrument with everyday hobbies and get the most out of your time. Tim, as expressed in earlier questions, doesn’t seem to have trouble with balancing other hobbies. “I just hang out with friends when I’m not practicing.”

Listening is an integral part of any person’s musicality. Tim, when asked about how he balances his listening, seems to be a well-rounded listener. “I used to listen to a lot of rock music, at first. [For jazz,] I feel like I always kind of did. I listen to any music. If I like it, I think it’s valid, and it’s good for me to listen to.”

When asked about what he believes it takes to be a competent musician, Tim summarized his answer in two words: “Awareness and empathy.” Already knowing how awareness contributes to competency, I was still confused on what empathy, a trait often attributed to living things, has to do with musicianship. Tim had an explanation to this, stating the power of empathy when playing a piece of music. “Well, if playing music, if you’re only thinking about yourself and not thinking about the song itself, it’s probably gonna be failed and won’t sound good.” 

A career in music is often seen as too daunting and competitive to pursue. However, Tim had a valid explanation to evade this realization made by many. When asked about why he made his choice, he answered, “Because I like to do it, and it just speaks to me. And I think art is a good way to speak your mind, not in words.” Another factor preventing people from pursuing a musical career is compensation, so I asked him how he deals with it and whether he lets it influence his decisions. “I try not to, unless someone asks you to play a far show, and they’re not paying you money, and it takes a lot of gas to get there.”

This begs the question: When did Tim start playing shows in the first place? “I don’t remember. I mean I got paid for playing at a nursing home a long time ago, like when I was in sixth grade or something, I think.” For some, a career in music comes naturally at a young age, while for others, it becomes the obvious path to go down, transcending all other possible careers. “It just seemed like what I was gonna do. I never really thought about the money side of it, until now.” 

For an accomplished artist such as Tim, it’s very unlikely he lacks advice for other young musicians, specifically ones at WHS. “Keep your ears open, and don’t not listen to something if you think you won’t like it. And don’t not play something, ever. Just play it, even if you don’t like it.”

Musicianship isn’t a trait that musicians are born with, but something that they gain over time as they listen and adapt to their environments. Tim is no exception, as he always makes sure to pay attention to everything that may benefit his growth as a musician—thus adding to his accomplishments—while being relaxed and eased at the same time. “I’ve had a lot of teachers, and I’ve learned from my friends too. I think it’s important to listen to everybody, and to not take everything they say too seriously.”