Meet the Characters: Chris Kimmett

Exeter State music instructor Chris Kimmett has loved playing since he was a child, and now spends most of his time either creating music or helping others improve their performances.

“Music is a huge part of who I am,” Kimmett said. “An injury in college prevented me from making performing a career, but I’ve found I like composing and teaching just as much. There’s nothing like helping somebody master a new skill. And working with so many musicians feeds the part of my brain that creates music — I often get home from a rehearsal and sit down to compose because the ideas are just flowing out.” He grins. “Fortunately for our neighbors, I use a practice mute when it’s late at night.”

Kimmett, who plays the trombone, came to Exeter for grad school, but ended up staying after he met and later married Dan Reilly, one of the sons in Reilly & Sons Contracting.

“Dan’s encouraged me to apply for tenure-track positions at other schools, but with evening performances and rehearsals, even a Boston school would mean we’d have to move,” Kimmett said. “Dan enjoys working with his dad and brother too much for me to want that.”

Kimmett’s the first one to admit that compromise is key to his marriage.

“We’re such different people, but part of the reason it works is we find ways to incorporate things we both enjoy, and we each are willing to spend some time doing the things we’re not as crazy about,” he said.

That means a typical fall weekend will have Reilly sitting in a Worcester jazz club Saturday night watching Kimmett perform, while Sundays find Kimmett sitting down to watch the Patriots play with Reilly and their friends. Saturday afternoons often find them engaged in family activities, including spending time with their nieces and nephews.

“I’m not close with my family, who all live in Virginia, but Dan has enough for us both,” Kimmett said. “Most of his family is musical, so there are days I fit in better and he’s the odd one out.”

Full name: Christopher James Kimmett

Family: My husband, Dan, and his really large family. My parents and an older sister live in Virginia, but we’re not close.

Childhood ambition: I always wanted to be a musician, from the first time I picked up a horn.

List of three things would take if evacuating: My good horn, a Glenn Ferris CD that Dan got me when we were first dating and a box my father-in-law made for me to store sheet music in. I don’t mind losing the music, but I’d hate to lose the box.

What would your last meal be? Beignets and coffee at Cafe du Monde in New Orleans during the jazz festival down there.

What’s in your iPod? Jazz, all kinds. I’ve got preferences for some styles over others, but I listen to all of them because even something in a style that’s not mine can give me an idea. Blues, soul, R&B, obviously. Rock for a change of pace. Bluegrass and folk to get ideas for different types of instrumentation and lyrics. I’m no lyricist, but those story songs often give me idea for emotions to evoke. And really, this is a dangerous question to ask a musician, because I could keep going.

Music quoteDream vacation: Dan and I keep talking about going to Europe for a couple of weeks — I’d love to see Paris and Istanbul, and he’s always wanted to go to Ireland and England. We just haven’t been able to find time we can both take without skipping the holidays and neither of us wants to do that.

Idea of hell: I grew up gay and loving music in a small, Southern town with father who wanted a son who was a sports star and married the captain of the cheerleading squad. I don’t know if it qualifies as hell, but it has to at least be Purgatory.

Best advice you ever got: Not to let idiots who don’t respect me determine what I was going to do in life.

Fun Friday night plans: I often perform on Saturdays, so I like just kicking back and relaxing with friends on Fridays.

Ideal date: You did hear what I said about compromise, right? As long as Dan and I are together and we’re both having fun, it’s a good date.

Favorite sport? I can at least follow baseball. After 10 years with a former football player, I still don’t understand how that game works.

Hobbies/activities: Some of us in the music department started a jazz quartet a few years ago and jamming with them is a great way to end the week.

Favorite season: Spring. I still can’t get used to winters up here, so I’m glad when the weather finally starts to warm up.

One thing you would tell your 13-year-old self: You know the whole It Gets Better campaign? That’s what I needed to hear back then because most of the time, I didn’t think it ever would. I thought I’d be stuck in that hell forever.

Favorite quote: “Music was my refuge. I could crawl into the space between the notes and curl my back to loneliness.” Maya Angelou

Person you’d love to have dinner with: Louis Armstrong

Coffee or tea: Coffee.

Beer or wine: Depends on the situation.

Righty or lefty: Righty.

Introvert or extrovert: Introvert. During big family gatherings, I usually have to take a break at some point and go for a short walk.

Beach or mountains: Beach, definitely.

— CJ Jenkins

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