You won’t find many people with a deeper connection to music than Rick Carl. The man has studied it, played it, earned a pair of college degrees in it, and taught it.

Nowadays Rick is one of Knoxville’s top lawyers, specializing in bankruptcy and creditors’ rights. But he still finds outlets for his love of melody and harmony, and thankfully one of them is the Joy of Music School.

We are fortunate to have Rick on our board of directors—he was board president in the early 2000s, and will retake that role in 2016—and he often helps out with special events. Rick plays an important role in our annual recital, for instance. He’s “the guy back stage making sure the kids are where they’re supposed to be,” as he describes it. “And I really dig it.  It’s so exciting to see their nervous energy before they go on and then they’re just proud when they come off after they’ve performed for their family and friends.”

Were it not for the Joy of Music School, many of these children would never have that experience—a fact that makes the School all the more appealing to Rick. “Its exclusive audience is underprivileged kids—kids who for socio-economic reasons probably don’t have access to music lessons or musical instruments,” he says. The School “literally puts musical instruments—pianos, guitars, trumpets, saxophones, violins—into the hands of these children. To see these kids who probably had no earthly idea they could play a violin develop that talent and then excel at it, that is really rewarding.”

 Rick’s own musical odyssey began at age 10, when he started playing the trumpet. He later majored in music education at Maryville College, where he taught for a year, and got a master’s degree in music ed at the University of Tennessee. Rick returned to UT to add his law degree in 1996.

Though teaching music to our students would come naturally to Rick, his frenetic work schedule simply doesn’t allow it.  He realizes he is not alone in this—and encourages others to follow his example of finding alternative ways of helping out. “If you’re not able to carve out that time to be a teacher, there’s lots of areas in which a volunteer could help in terms of just lending their expertise,” he says.   “Maybe they’re a painter.  They could come in and paint the building.  I mean, there’s no area of expertise that the School does not need from the community in Knoxville.”

As Rick sees it, every contribution to the School helps improve the community itself. “I want to live in a town that appreciates the arts and that culture, and it starts from the ground up—from kids who are five, six, seven, eight years old,” he says. “You want to engender that creativity and that inspiration in these children so that they grow up and become members of the community and appreciate the arts themselves.”

Thinking about getting involved? Rick encourages you to stop by the School and take a tour. “If you have any appreciation for seeing kids achieve and grow in confidence or extend beyond boundaries that they didn’t know they had, you would fall in love with this place and the work that goes on here, “ he says.

Very well-said, counselor. Case closed!