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Name: Chuck Beck

Age: 39

Occupation: Piano technician, owner of Chuck Beck Piano Services

City of residency: Historic West End of Decatur

Between repairing pianos, building custom furniture and instructing yoga, it seems like you maintain a fairly active schedule. How do you find balance between it all? 

The best tool to feel like I have a handle on living is living in the right mindset. If your self-narrative is about how crazy/busy/difficult/out-of-control everything is, then it is. It is always possible to find a way through moments that can be difficult with the leading mindset to visualize the (most) positive outcome possible through hard work or an unexpected extended task or life repair.

Piano work and furniture building require the solitude that encourages focus in deep work. They both highlight every distraction from the action of the moment. A purely tuned unison of strings is not possible if the phone rings, or if I'm thinking about something that is not this very note. 

Manipulating trees into smaller pieces, then combining the pieces back together to endure over time, requires a similar attention. Loose joinery and displeasing design will not endure over time. Then as a yoga instructor, I get to be with a bunch of other people to stretch out our bodies, refocus our attention on our bodies in the present and feel better as a group.

As a player and as a technician, what are some of your favorite things about pianos?

Pianos have evolved to give us the creative control of 7.5 octaves of the same 12 notes with millions of combinations of ideas to get out. A piano presents the keyboard in a way that even tapping on a few notes gives someone a chance to make a simple song. As a player, I can get lost in the flow of playing music, listening to my song and communicate thoughts without words.

Seeing pianos as a box of wood, metal, strings, felt and leather, I know these instruments as friends that will never run out of complaints or stories or songs to share.

Are there any new hobbies that you're interested in taking up someday?

Ten lifetimes wouldn't be long enough to explore all the hobbies I could immerse myself in. The past six months, I have been exploring metal working and machining. As someone who does manual service and repair for a living, understanding different material properties of wood, metal, fabrics, fasteners and adhesives gives me more ways to approach difficult repair and design situations. 

How long have you lived in Decatur and what do you like about living in the city?

My wife and I moved to Decatur in 2003. We love the balance of easy travel access, the subtle elevation changes across the city and the growth we've seen in our 15 years here. As long as people are acting to work together, take risks and make something their own, our city will continue to prosper. Having a growth mindset even about our city is one of the sources of our vitality.

What advice do you have for anyone who wants to start a small business?

Start at the smallest step you can manage right now. Your idea doesn't have to look like anyone else's at the first steps. Keep an extra part-time or full-time job and work really hard. Work harder and longer than you think you can.

You will have to re-calibrate your expectations around everything you do, because when you take your working life into your own hands with a growth mindset, there aren't boundaries for you.


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Contact Jaylyn Cook at (217) 421-7980. Follow him on Twitter: @jaylyn_HR

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Public Safety Reporter

Public safety reporter for the Herald & Review.

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