Tim Lockman: curiosity and persistence in work and play

Tim LockmanTim Lockman makes beautiful music. His guitar playing is clean, meticulous and resonates with emotion. He draws inspiration from a gallery of acoustic guitar heroes: Martin Simpson, Ed Gerhard, Richard Thompson, and host of others, including his father.  He released his first full-length CD, Castles in the Snow, this year. He is driven to push his artistry forward by curiosity and persistence…the same qualities he encourages in the students he assists every day at Kishwaukee College where he is a Reference Librarian.

Tim’s journey to becoming a Reference Librarian was not an intentional one. He received his B.A. in English from Eastern Illinois University and, with no defined goal, realized that he enjoyed research and libraries, so he enrolled in the Masters in Library and Information Science program at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. After a semester, he returned home. “My Dad was ill so I came back to the area and got a job at Kish as the Public Support Library Assistant,” he said. “I took a year off school but later finished my MLIS online.”

Tim learned to play guitar from his father. “My Dad was a singer and guitar player, mostly in the southern gospel style,” he said. “When I was about 15, he showed me a few chords. Then I took lessons for several months and learned a bit of music reading. When I was in college, I took classical guitar lessons and that made me more confident and taught me to pay attention to technique and things like posture.”

He toyed around with playing jazz with a friend and listened to a lot of guitar players. A lot of guitar players. “Martin Simpson is a British folk guitarist who I listen to,” he said. “He talks about how he learned to play like a singer. Make the notes count. That’s something I really like and that I try to do.”

Home from the University of Illinois and working at Kish, Tim played an original arrangement for guitar of a hymn composed by Maltbie Babcock titled “This Is My Father’s World” for his Dad. About a year later, after his father passed away, Tim worked with a music instructor at Kish and recorded an EP of songs, including his original arrangement of Babcock’s hymn. He recalled, “It was good, but over the years I had to ask myself if this work was how I wanted to represent my music.”

After completing his Master’s degree, Tim left Kish to work as a Reference Librarian with St. Anthony College of Nursing in Rockford. When the position came open at Kish, Anne-Marie Green, Director of Library Services contacted Tim and encouraged him to apply.  “I came back and am actually a faculty member here. I like helping students, seeing the light bulb go off when they gain a better understanding of how to find information,” he said. “It really is the best part of the job. I remember having those threshold moments myself as a student.”

Although he grew as a library professional, something felt unfinished. Tim kept thinking about recording a full-length CD that would reflect the musician and man he had become. The final push was the birth of his great-niece, Alice nearly a year ago. “I wrote a guitar piece for her before she was born called “Lullaby (For Alice)” and I realized that she would need to hear it and keep it,” he explained. “So I went to one of my favorite music stores in Aurora and asked them to recommend a studio.” The rest was a flurry of launching a Kickstarter campaign to fund the project followed by recording, mixing, mastering and things like graphic design, photography and drafting liner notes.

“I spent just a few days in the studio and it was exhausting. I would record for 3 to 4 hours and it felt like 15,” he said. “I had to know what I wanted to sound like before I went in. It is kind of intimidating and there is a lot of pressure because it comes down to you and headphones. Once you agree to the take, it will be on the CD forever.”

The finished CD, Castles in the Snow, includes “Lullaby (For Alice)” as well as his original arrangement for solo guitar of “This Is My Father’s World.”  Tim is pleased with the result. What’s next for Tim? He is back in school, working on a certificate in Instructional Design. It all comes down to curiosity and persistence, both in music and education.

Tim Lockman’s CD Castles in the Snow is available at the Kishwaukee College Bookstore and available online at www.cdbaby.com, Google Play Store, Microsoft Store, and Spotify.

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Photo Caption: Tim Lockman, Reference Librarian at Kishwaukee College, is also an accomplished musician who recently released a full-length CD, Castles in the Snow. (photo credit: Hulthen Photography).