Okie from Muskogee: Music helps lawyer recharge batteries | community

Attorney Caleb Harlin says he got into law so he could help people through “tough situations.”

And when things get too tough, Harlin finds ways to take it easy.

“In the practice of law, it’s a stressful situation,” he said. “Generally, people don’t come through the door unless there’s a problem.”

He has a piano in his office, which he likes to play during lunch.

“I use music, especially classical music, to clear my mind and relax and refocus my mind,” he said, adding that classical music “can take you to different times and places, depending of the mood you’re in.”

Music has been a part of Harlin’s life since he was a child. He recalled that his sister started taking piano lessons when he was 7 years old, and he wanted to learn too. Since then he has learned to play the violin and viola. He and his brothers began playing at concerts and weddings.

“I thought about pursuing a career in music, but I didn’t want to turn music into a job,” he said.

Instead, he chose law and studied law at Oak Brook College of Law and Government Policy in Fresno, California. During a time he practiced law in San Francisco.

“I’ve worked in a big city and I can’t stand it,” he said. “I’ve spent too much of my life sitting in a mess.”

When he decided to practice law in Oklahoma, he had to go to law school again, this time at Oklahoma City University, because Oak Brook was not accredited by the American Bar Association.

Harlin also has a lifelong love of running. He said it was one of the few things he was good at growing up. She chose distance running while competing in a home-school co-op.

“I was a little smaller than the other guys my age,” he said. “I could outlast them on the longer runs. I turned my fire up a little.”

Run achieving more time to escape

Caleb Harlin has racked up a lot of running mileage

“I was a 5K runner for years, then I turned it into 10Ks, half marathons, marathons, ultramarathons,” he said. “I’ve done everything from one-mile flat runs to 31-mile ultramarathons through the trails and mountains of California. I haven’t done the century, the 100-mile run yet.”

Trail runs are a favorite, he said. “Get out into nature, run through the trees and woods and meadows.”

Harlin said her best time was a second-place finish at the Cherokee Holiday Run: 17 minutes, 15 seconds.

He said his favorite win was a duathlon — a bike race at Jay.

“It was bitterly cold, and they had another big race around the same time, so a lot of the other riders who were a lot faster than me went to that one,” he said. “So I was the only one there who was more competitive.”

Harlin said he still runs, but doesn’t compete.

“I used to run about five or six days a week,” he said. “But work and family, it’s kind of hard to squeeze it in.”

From violin to viola means extension

Harlin first became interested in the violin after being impressed by a violin CD. Later he switched to the viola, which is bigger.

“It looked fantastic,” he said. “The timbre of the viola is haunting and beautiful. Even though it’s harder to play, you can’t play as many technical things (like the violin), it’s hard to beat the sound.

The viola is about five tones lower than the violin, he said. “But it sounds deeper.”

“The violin is 12 inches from the pin to the hand rest, not counting the fingerboard and offset,” he said. “The viola is going to be about 17 inches. Because it’s so much bigger it means the strings are going to be longer, which means it’s lower, slower, quieter.”

He said he had to stretch his fingers on the viola.

“My hands aren’t very big, so it’s a little harder to play the viola,” she said. “I bought one that was on the smaller end, 15 inches.”

He said he tried to play his brother’s cello, a larger stringed instrument.

“But it felt too different,” she said. “Hold it between your legs, and you have to keep your fingers even further apart. You’re jumping a lot.”

Start in the middle when tuning the piano

Harlin began tuning pianos as a family necessity.

He said that with 10 kids, “early on, we pretty much tore our piano to pieces.”

It got to where the family called a piano tuner every month or so, he recalled.

“Mom looked at us and said, ‘one of you is going to have to learn how to fix this,'” he said, adding that he and a brother ordered a tuning kit and taught how to tune.

Harlin began tuning pianos at church or for friends. The word got around.

At one point, he had 500 customers in eastern Oklahoma.

“You have to have an ear for it, but I think a lot of people can develop an ear for it,” he said. “You are hearing a certain vibration inside the piano,”

Harlin uses a fingerboard as well as a digital tuner

“If the piano is pretty close in tune, I can use a tuning fork, bring it into tune,” he said. “If it’s really bad, really low or really high, I need a digital tuner to see how far it is from the A440.”

A440, or 440 hertz, is the tuning standard for the first A above middle C on a piano. Then tune the other notes.

The ease of tuning a piano depends on the age, not the type of piano.

“A big old one is a lot harder to tune than a new spinet,” he said. “An old or upright spinet is more difficult to tune than a large new one.”

Q&A

HOW DID YOU GET TO BE A MUSKOGEE OKIE?

“My parents’ jobs. My dad worked as a reactor operator in South Carolina. When he was 7, he got an offer to come back here in Oklahoma.”

WHAT DO YOU LIKE MOST ABOUT MUSKOGEE?

“One of the best things is the size. The worst traffic is a red light. It has enough restaurants, enough stores to help you with the basics. Location: Close to Tulsa and Oklahoma City. It’s close to family. Close to airports.”

WHAT MAKES MUSKOGEE A BETTER PLACE TO LIVE?

“I’d like to see continued investment downtown, the business. I like what I’ve been seeing in the last two, three, four years. I’ve seen a lot of new businesses start, a lot of investment. like Depot Green. It’s really positive. It’s investments like this that will attract people from other communities.”

WHO PERSON IN MUSKOGEE DO YOU ADMIRATE MOST?

“My father, Craig Harlin, his value ethic, watching him work over the years was an inspiration to me. My mother, Cindy Harlin, managed a household of 10 children and never lost heart , and they all turned out half-decent.”

WHAT IS THE MOST MEMORABLE THING THAT HAPPENED TO YOU IN MUSKOGEE?

“I married my wife, Katie, nine years ago. In fact, we had been going to church together on and off for several years before I noticed her. Then we started dating, and no it took me a long time to decide this was what i wanted in life, a year later we got married.

WHAT DO YOU DO IN YOUR FREE TIME?

“Right now, we’re remodeling our house. I just bought a new place, put paint on the walls, new light fixtures.”

HOW WOULD YOU SUM UP MUSKOGEE IN 25 WORDS OR LESS?

“A great place to live, work and raise a family. It has everything you need without being too big, too hectic.”

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