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Justin Marx
Jazz Bassist, Web Designer, Photographer, Entrepreneur  

Why did this accomplished young Jazz bassist transition into Web designer, photographer and entrepreneur? Justin tells us all about it.

Early Years

I was born in Vancouver, BC, Canada on February 17, 1980, and lived there until 1990, when I moved to Ann Arbor, Michigan. All through middle school I played the viola, although I wasn't interested in it enough to practice. In 8th grade (1993) I bought an electric bass, and asked my orchestra director if I could switch from viola to acoustic bass, but all of the school's basses were already being used. I ended up quitting viola completely in favor of the electric bass.

I attended Community High School, an alternative high school that attracts mostly artists (although it isn't an art school per se.) It has a great jazz program that consists of about a dozen small combos, divided up by skill level. My sophomore year (1995) I was put in the top ensemble, and the director told me I needed to learn to play acoustic bass. After several months of practicing I was finally able to play it in public, and I loved it so much that I gave up electric bass to play acoustic (although I still play electric from time to time.)

European Tour

Community's jazz program provided some incredible opportunities for me. As part of the top ensemble, I had the opportunity to do four tours to Europe, playing in England, Holland, Germany, and Switzerland. On these tours we played at jazz festivals, and in clubs, schools, and town squares, and on some of the tours, played almost every day for three weeks. The tours were extremely educational in that the European audiences treated us as professionals, instead of as high school students. We were esteemed as musicians, which was a welcome change from many American audiences, who often did not respect our musicianship on the basis that we were still in high school. That respect had a very positive effect on our playing, and some of my best playing in high school was on those tours.

Berklee College of Music

After high school (1998) I went to Berklee College of Music in Boston on a partial performance scholarship, with the intent to study jazz performance. Once there I realized that I was playing enough around the school that I could study something else and still play most of the time, so I declared Music Business and Management as my major. In the spring of my freshman year I started developing carpal tunnel syndrome and tendentious as a result of overplaying, and by late fall in my sophomore year it had gotten bad enough that my physical therapist suggested I stop playing, or at least cut back drastically; if I didn't I would suffer most likely permanent nerve damage. This came at a time when I was really getting tired of Berklee's cutthroat competitive atmosphere, and when I started to want more of an academic (nonmusical) challenge than Berklee could not provide. I knew that if I stayed at Berklee I could not sufficiently cut back on my playing, so I decided to transfer to New York University.

Continued Next

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