By Don Bolding
Killeen Daily Herald
Darren Lambert and his wife, Kim, found their economic prospects to be poor in Pennsylvania, so they started looking for a better place to be in this economy.
"When we considered moving before, we always limited it to a radius of 200 miles or something like that because we wanted to stay close to family," he said. "But last year, we decided to look at the whole United States. I got on the Internet and looked at every dimension of life we could think of – the local economy, climate, political atmosphere, job prospects for educators, everything – and it all pointed to Texas. More work identified Central Texas as the most economically healthy location in the country, so we came."
Lambert recently started MusiCOOLity in the Villa Village shopping center at 1801 Trimmier Road, and that started another narrowing-down process by testing the market.
With a slogan "From Bach to Rock," Lambert offers himself as a disc jockey or live performer on a variety of instruments or as a teacher on instruments or voice. He is a singer and proficient with piano, guitar, bass guitar, drums, organ and melodic percussion, including xylophone and similar instruments.
So far, most of Lambert's income has been from private lessons.
"I like the Baroque period, and Bach set some precedents that are still standard in music today. You don't get many calls to perform classical music, though," he said.
Lambert's opening act in the area was as a physics teacher at Killeen High School in 2008-09.
"Kim and I went to a teachers' job fair when we got here, and I came away with a job," he said. "She landed one just a little later, and she's still teaching second grade at Bellaire Elementary School. She's a musician, too. But I found my dream is to work in music full time, so I opened this studio in October."
Lambert will perform in any venue but frequently mentions nursing homes and churches as dear to his heart because he got his start in those places. He directs music at Amazing Grace Fellowship.
So how did music and physics mix in the same personality?
"I've been into music my whole life," Lambert said. "I started studying keyboard and guitar at age 5 and performed in my church choir in New Jersey at 6. I started taking formal lessons at 9. I tried Little League baseball a couple of years before that but was just no good at it, so my parents gave me a choice of that or music lessons, and I chose music."
He was classically trained in high school, and his parents wanted him to continue in college, but "I thought I would be getting more of the same, only with more intricacy. I graduated in 2001, after only three years, with a degree in physics and computer science and a minor in mathematics."
Lambert moved to Oregon after graduation. It was hard to find a job there, and he relied on music to reduce stress, becoming music leader for a church. He returned to New Jersey in 2002.
"I got a job in maintenance in a nursing home back home, and the social director heard I was a musician and asked me to play for their party on New Year's Eve. I thought, 'Wow, I've got to do that again,' and started a gig schedule."
Lambert kept his day job in maintenance until he could make enough to support himself in music in April 2003, mostly giving lessons.
"It's easier to get gigs as a one-man band because you need less space and you're not charging as much, but I did put together a rock band at one point," he said. "The highlight of that was opening once for Gary U.S. Bonds, and I got to sit down and talk with him, just musician to musician."
He went to Pennsylvania in 2005 and met Kim there in 2006. They were married in 2007.
Lambert has joined four Chambers of Commerce and two young professionals groups in Central Texas and gone through thousands of business cards to increase word-of-mouth advertising.
"I put fun into everything I do," he said. "I value the ability to be a kid at heart. I've been told I could be a politician or lawyer, any number of things, but this is what I want, so I left the security of a paycheck to follow it. I just don't let obstacles stand in my way.
"People are not as stuck in their lives as they believe," he said. "You just have to plan and work after you identify who you are. I've failed before, big-time, and it hurts for a while, but I just turn it into opportunity."
Contact Don Bolding at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7557.