Krueger: What were your first experiences with music?
Eric: My first experience with music was learning how to buzz on the mouthpiece for baritone, when Dad was first teaching me. My Dad is my biggest inspiration and coach for life. I didn't have much exposure to music, before he got me interested.
Krueger: Your Dad was your first teacher then?
Eric: Yes, and I actually took piano lessons from a woman in Grants Pass, Oregon, where I was born. We moved to Ashland when I finished 2nd grade. In Ashland I continued piano lessons with Steven Truelove. Then I don't remember having Tuba, or any lessons on low brass until High School with the Band Director, Sue Foster, in 8th grade. Then once I got more serious about the Tuba in my Junior Year in High School, I had my first few lessons at the University with Stu Turner even before I graduated from High School.
Krueger: What got you feeling serious about the Tuba vs. the Piano?
Eric: Nothing really got me seriously interested in the Tuba. I kind of just stuck with it because I liked playing it and thought I was a natural. As I played more and got more experienced, it felt more natural. I didn't feel like I needed to practice, unless it was completely necessary for success.
Krueger: And what did you do then, to continue to play?
Eric: Pep Band and Marching Band. There was Band Camp of course, which was fun. My Band Teacher was a 100% supporter. I joined the Youth Symphony Orchestra in my Junior Year and also I was in Honor Band. I joined the University Symphonic Band my Junior Year and played with Michael Shultz. Those were tough times because he was like a Tuba Army Drill Sergeant. I also achieved three Academic Letters for my musical activities while in High School.
In 1997, I got invited to represent Oregon as an ambassador to travel to Europe and play concerts in 7 different countries. I got a recognition letter from the Governor Kitzhaber, congratulating me on my achievements.
Krueger: How long was your trip to Europe? Which Countries did you visit?
Eric: The musical activities part of it was two weeks only. We started our rehearsals in Portland at Lewis and Clark College. Then we flew to London, shipped with a Ferry through the English Channel from Dover to the French coastline onto Paris. Then onto a small mountain town in Switzerland called Champery. We did a small visit to Lichtenstein. Then onto Austria after that, while the organization was there, some of us went to Vienna, and the others went on a day trip to Venice, Italy, which was unforgettable experience. We then concluded our trip after Switzerland. Onto Germany in a town called Rothenberg. During all these trips I'm doing choir concerts in evenings and band concerts during the day. I was called a "Doubler" choir member and a band member.
After High School, I continued on at Southern Oregon University with Music Education, and I got accepted into the Music Department, but I never really officially got admitted into the University. I think what I did was paid for classes and attended music classes, but never was officially enrolled and classified as a student. I went ahead anyways and used my two scholarships and paid for two years of classes and courses.
Krueger: What role do you feel all of this musical activity played in your life?
Eric: All of that musical activity in my life made me feel like there was a purpose for me coming into this world. It opened up a new world for me, a new door to explore and discover. I really enjoyed it, because it brought attention to me and I made other people around me happy, and I was happy with them in the process. It was very satisfying and soothing to know that I made somebody’s day memorable because of what I made with my instrument.
Eric currently works at FTD Flowers in Medford, Oregon, and teaches Tuba on the side, while also playing Tuba with the Rogue Valley Symphony when the opportunity is there.