By Pat Caldwell
VALE – In a modest home just behind the Malheur County Courthouse, music rules supreme.
There, Tracy Martindale and his wife Mary not only make music but also share their talent and love of the art with young people.
“I just love music,” Tracy said.
Music attracted Martindale as a youngster, and he translated that love into playing in a band. He worked in the construction industry while also playing in his band on the road, until chronic peritonitis sidelined both careers more than 10 years ago.
After surgery to remove his gall bladder, Martindale searched for a way to continue his dream.
He said he found the right outlet: offering guitar lessons.
“It gives me something to do and takes my mind off the pain,” he said.
Martindale knows music and he knows his way around a guitar. He writes his own music and cut his own CD – “Trace Elements” – but he remains committed to passing on his love of music to his young students.
Martindale said his interest in music paid dividends in terms of learning new things and meeting interesting people.
“Boy, I think I got to experience a lot of stuff playing in a band in school,” he said.
Martindale spent 20 years playing bass in the band “The Pony Boys,” a group that frequently played the circuit of rodeos and county fairs across the region.
Martindale said he sometimes misses his days playing in a band but he also enjoys his new vocation.
The key, he said, is to try to get people interested in music when they are young.
“If you get them early, they will never forget it. Like riding a bike. It is great,” he said. “It brings me back to my youth … It makes me happy to see them developing.”
Martindale believes learning to play guitar should be fun. When a youth decides to try to learn guitar, Martindale invites the parents over and gives them a tour of his house and his studio.
“I try to make fun stuff for the kids,” he said. “Keep them interested.”
Martindale also offers a workshop on Saturdays and organizes projects – such as building a guitar – in which his students can participate.
While Martindale loves his work, he conceded learning to play a guitar takes dedication.
“It is demanding,” he said.
The payoff, he said, arrives when his students begin to blossom as guitar players.
“Once they start to get it all, the time is worth it when you see them grow,” he said.
One of the positives about his new career, Martindale said, is the fact he can work out of his own home.
“It works out great for me,” he said.
Yet he says the best part of the job is the ability to pass on a love of music to students.
“Its not about me. They get to learn something,” he said.
To find out more, contact Martindale at 541-709-1063.