The first few days in Arizona (where we are staying on a Navajo reservation to create an aural history CD) we were graced with the presence of a man named Jack Loeffler. Jack was there to train us on sound recording and editing, but I think we all took a lot more than the technical stuff away from what he said. I’ll try to share some of the best stuff he shared with us:

1. “As soon as you can, pull all the nails out of your frame of reference. Maybe try every morning.”

Jack was honestly one of the most open people I have met. He came in with his cute little blue handkerchief around his neck and a smile. He began pulling out equipment, pressing buttons, and plugging in cords, all while carrying on conversations with us and asking us about our lives. He would tell us about a piece of equipment, press some buttons and then launch into a story about a rattlesnake or putting out a forest fire. His life was full of adventures and he told us he hasn’t had a job for years but was always employed. He has been able to travel and work on projects across the world, doing what he loves- listening, talking, and recording sound.  He was able to do this because he remained so open to the opportunities and experiences around him. He knew what he knew, but wasn’t afraid to learn a new way or to fail.

2. “Trust in the inspiration of the moment.”

The moments come and go so quickly we hardly know they ever were. Jack taught us to pay attention to the moment. If you are going to conduct an interview, a list of questions is no good. You must ask, listen for a response and let the stories, memories, musings flow from there. You guide the conversation, instead of trying to find simple answers. The moments are the most important part of the job.

3. “Hearing is the most deeply penetrating and intellectually stimulating of the senses.”

Jack wanted to make sure we understood the power of what we were doing. We are using great equipment and really trying to let the people’s voices be heard. When one couple being interviewed only spoke Navajo, Kendel and I could swear we understood it. The tone, the sound of their voices was so beautiful, it was like we were enchanted with the sound. We experienced the power of sound in that moment.

4. “Far out.”

For Jack, everything was far out. His passion and enthusiasm was truly contagious and he had the experience to back it up. He was full of life and gave Kendel and I sense of purpose and direction which I don’t think we would have gotten from anyone else. He was far out.

Maddie Coultrip

Lynchburg College ’11