Interview with Caleb Chapman, Part 1 of 2

The location is 881 7th Avenue, New York, New York.  The date is Tuesday, May 21, 2013.  Just as the sun begins to set so do the lights begin to dim in the world-famous concert hall.  The atmosphere is electric and exciting.  The packed house is awaiting the performance of guest artists David Sanborn and Wayne Bergeron.  However, they are the guest artists, so who is the featured act?  What individual or group could fill Carnegie Hall with pure energy and high quality music and manage to bring along two ultra-successful, professional musicians as guest artists?  The group is Caleb Chapman’s Crescent Super Band, an ensemble of 25 musicians all aged 13-18 from Caleb Chapman’s Soundhouse in American Fork, Utah.

The Crescent Super Band has traveled around the world performing in some of the most famous concert halls known to mankind and they frequently perform with world-class artists such as members of the Dave Matthews Band, Journey, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, Tower of Power, the Rolling Stones, Randy Brecker, Stefon Harris, Bob Mintzer, Lenny Pickett, David Sanborn, Wayne Bergeron, Dave Weckl, Neon Trees, AC/DC, Maroon 5, just to name a “few”.  The Crescent Super Band has also been voted Utah’s Best Professional Band at “Best of State” each year from 2007 to the present.  It is important to note that the Crescent Super Band is only one part of the Caleb Chapman’s Soundhouse.  This performance center is home to hundreds of young performers and other elite performing groups.

I grew up in Utah just 45 minutes away from American Fork and I was very much a part of the high school music scene.  I attended a school that had relatively few really talented and accomplished musicians (and I would say that is the norm in Utah).  My senior year of high school I was selected to play with the All-State Jazz Band and that is when I first experienced the phenomenon of the Crescent Super Band.  The vast majority of the musicians who I played with in the All-State band were from the Super Band.  I was amazed at their ability as well as their feel and love for the music.  My two younger brothers (Kevin and Jordan) had the opportunity of playing with some of Caleb Chapman’s other bands and they loved every second of it.

So, who is the man behind the masterpiece?  That is exactly what I wanted to find out and that is why I asked Caleb for some time to sit down with him and learn.  I want to thank Caleb for his time, kindness, and wisdom.  While I would love to write a 300 page book about Caleb (and I probably could) I will keep it short (kind of) and talk about the principles behind Caleb’s success.  For more information about his background and his performance center please visit the links below.

Caleb Chapman’s Soundhouse

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Caleb Chapman has built one of the largest music schools in the country and has started to expand to Denver and hopefully throughout the United States.  His groups travel the world and amaze every audience with their talent.  I believe that Caleb created something that no one thought could be possible.  That is success and amazing.

Set Goals

Caleb is a firm believer in constantly working towards achieving your goals. In Caleb’s words “that is what keeps you moving forward.” Your vision and progress has to start somewhere and that is where goals come in to play. However, an interesting observation that Caleb made is that the best, most fulfilling moments in his life and career have not come from accomplishing a specific, targeted goal. They have come during the process of achieving a goal but in the form of an unexpected opportunity and he calls those opportunities, pivotal moments.

Pivotal Moments

Pivotal moments are those times that you’ll always remember. Your pivotal moments are those moments that define your career and your life. They are the moments that you will remember forever. If your life was a connect-the-dot picture the pivotal moments would be those dots which are the points that ultimately define the entire picture. Caleb shared two of his major pivotal moments with me.

First, Caleb thought it would be cool to perform with his band for “Jazz at Lincoln Center.” So he sent in an audition tape and received word back that his band would be a great fit for the Lincoln Center but would also be perfect for a much bigger venue – Carnegie Hall.  Who is going to complain about performing at Carnegie Hall? Not Caleb Chapman. This is the concert that was described at the beginning of this article.  Caleb and his bands not only had the opportunity to perform at Carnegie Hall but they were able to perform with David Sanborn, one of Caleb’s inspirations for why he got to music in the first place. That was an unplanned opportunity that came because he was working towards his goals but it wasn’t specifically one of his goals.

Second, a couple years ago Caleb was invited to take his band to perform in Cuba. After Caleb accepted the invite he was talking to Jeff Coffin, the saxophonist for the Dave Matthews band, and told him that he had been invited to perform in Cuba. Jeff told Caleb that he had never performed in Cuba and was wondering if he could come along. Caleb said, “Absolutely.”  While on tour in Cuba, Jeff got the idea to record a couple songs with the Crescent Super Band which then led to an idea of recording an entire album with the Crescent Super Band along with other Grammy award-winning musicians. Caleb told me that this album is the most amazing album he’s ever worked on and will probably be a cornerstone for the Crescent Super Band and Caleb’s program forever. Again, this was not a specific goal of Caleb’s, it was an unseen opportunity that presented itself. Caleb was ready to accept because he was moving forward and working toward his goals.

Caleb pointed out that pivotal moments can be missed if you’re not ready or if you’re not looking for them. So he emphasized the importance of always having your eyes open, your ears open, meeting the right people, and making progress so you can be ready when those opportunities are presented.

Love and Passion

You must love and have passion for what you do. We all know this is a common piece of advice but Caleb emphasized this multiple times. As I’ve had the opportunity interviewing successful people they have all said this. So what is the lesson that we need to learn from these people? The lesson and principle is this, if you do not love what you’re doing stop right now and figure out what you need to start doing. Don’t waste any more time and don’t kid yourself. Do what you love. Building the school of music was not something that people thought was possible. I’m sure people thought Caleb was foolish for trying to do something like this. But Caleb loves what he does, he developed a fantastic vision, and he made it happen.

Always Move Forward (Just Do Things, Make Things Happen)

As mentioned before, goals are what allow you to always move forward. But there is another important part to this. Caleb just does things, he makes things happen. Caleb is not worried about doing something wrong, what he is worried about is making sure that he’s doing something. If he’s doing something wrong then he prefers to do it quickly so that he can learn and become better. Caleb brought up that too often people are so afraid of making mistakes that they analyze and analyze and analyze and they never get anything done. Just go for it. Don’t worry about making mistakes. Just worry about getting things done and learning along the way.

Network

As far as networking is concerned, Caleb expressed something to me that I’ve never heard before but I think it is genius. Caleb enjoys opening new doors to new networks that he is not currently a part of. My younger brother Kevin told me a story about a concert rehearsal with Caleb.  Caleb asked the band who they wanted to come and perform as guest artists in their next concert. As the members of the band brought up famous names Kevin was shocked that Caleb Chapman had all of their phone numbers in his phone and called them on the spot. Caleb has a huge network. The following story illustrates Caleb’s networking mindset and ability.  Recently Caleb was touring Washington DC and realized that he didn’t have a large political network. So while he was in Washington DC he called a good friend who works with the American Music collections in the Smithsonian and asked for some help. His friend connected him with one of the Congressmen from Michigan and the next day Caleb had a two hour visit with his staff regarding music legislation. That is the beginning of Caleb’s political network. As someone who is trying to be successful, the power of a network cannot be underestimated. Caleb Chapman is not afraid to meet people and we should not be afraid either. As you meet people make sure you are providing them with more value than they are giving you and be willing to connect different people from different industries and different walks of life. That is ultimately what networking is all about, helping other people achieve their goals.

 

I hope you enjoyed the article and I want to thank Caleb again for spending time with me.  I will be posting another article about Caleb’s story (as opposed to just the principles).  It is an inspiring story and one that I am excited and honored to share.

Caleb Chapman’s Soundhouse

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