Celebrating the ways and ideas of a gifted man and a great friend
For the past 70 years Emmett has lived an often unusual life. His early years were marked by unstable circumstances, and he always followed his own muse when it came to his ultimate career as a musician, a teacher, and an instrument designer and builder. It wasn't until his mid 30s, already married with two kids, that he made a sudden shift — a commitment to a new way of making music — that would change the course of his life. His success has been more conventional than many would suppose. It has come from the support of a strong, loving family, a serious devotion to his work, and the courage to follow his inspiration. He's challenged the popular culture without rejecting it. He's pushed the envelope, and brought us along for the ride. These are common threads in the lives of many accomplished people.
Millions of people have great ideas, but to realize them in a way that can become a vital source of inspiration for others is less common. Emmett's free-flowing imagination needs his analytical mind to provide focus and understanding of what he creates. His love of language and wordplay gives him the desire and ability to explain those ideas to others. And his love of making music and appreciation for the power of performance give him the confidence he needs to take something new and put it out there for the world to see. And there is always something new with Emmett.
A thoughtful and careful man, Emmett can come across as shy and reserved to those who don't know him. All it takes is a little concentrated time, however — a dinner or a long, friendly phone call — to appreciate that you are interacting with a man who truly values others for their wit, ideas, creative spirit and openheartedness. Music, language, politics, science, religion, technology — mainstream and arcane — there doesn't seem to be anything that doesn't fascinate him. And I marvel at his ability to bring everything, no matter how abstract, back to its humanness.
As a musician, I know how it feels to give your best to the world and have to wonder, 'is it working?' Emmett has spent the better part of his life dedicated to one idea: a new way of making music. He did it first for himself, and then he taught others and made instruments for them. What began as the ultimate vehicle for his own music became a product and an enterprise, sustaining him in body as well. It's given him a special place in the world. The Stick is still not a household word, but thousands of musicians and millions of music fans have been touched by the ideas behind it and by all the hard work he and his family have done to give those ideas shape. More and more people around the world discover it every day. Whether he feels it or not, Emmett's ideas as embodied in The Stick have become a part of our culture. I've always known him to be a stronger champion of his ideas than of his accomplishments. Ideas are easier to share and pass on. More than any event or achievement, they drive the plot of our human story.
This site is not about The Stick or Stick Enterprises as such. It's about the man who made these things happen, and about his life, family, friends, art, and vision, written from the perspective of those who know him best, and from his own perspective, as well. Emmett is the most energetic and healthy 70-year-old I know, so I expect there are many chapters yet to unfold. I hope you'll find what you read here entertaining, informative and inspiring. There will be more on the site soon, so check back often. Many thanks to those who have already contributed. I've really enjoyed reading your articles and stories.
If there's something you would like to contribute, no matter how long or short, some story about your experiences with Emmett, or how he has impacted on your life, please feel free to write me at [email protected].Happy reading,
January, 2007, Charlottesville, Virginia
Greg Howard is a musician, composer, writer, teacher and record producer based in Charlottesville, Virginia. You can find out more about his life's work at www.greghoward.com