Junior Casey Martin taught himself to play the harmonica while in high school.

A Man of Many Talents

April 13, 2009

By Amanda GonzalesNotre Dame Sports Information

Playing a varsity sport at Notre Dame can be very time consuming. Balancing a baseball career and going to school full time is even more of a challenge. Junior Casey Martin is always looking for new activities, namely playing instruments that will help him relax and take a reprieve from his busy schedule. These instruments, specifically the harmonica, which first appealed to him in high school, gives Martin a way to express himself and offers an excitement that neither baseball nor school can provide.

Becoming interested in the harmonica was “just one of those things where I saw somebody else playing it and I thought it was pretty cool so my parents got me one and I taught myself how to play.” Since that time, the harmonica has developed into Martin’s favorite instrument, not just because he has become quite good at playing it, but also, because it’s unique.

“You go to college and pretty much everybody can play the guitar, but the harmonica is cool because not that many people play it,” Martin said.

Martin is able to showcase his harmonica and guitar playing skills in informal “jam sessions,” with his friends on the baseball team.

“Right now, there’s probably four or five of us that get together every once in a while and just jam. Next year, we’re hoping to get some solid material together and we’re hoping to play some shows at the house.”

While the group is satisfied with their proficiency at the guitar and the drums, Martin acknowledges that they desperately lack a capable singer, as the members “are all too chicken to sing.” Martin joked that placing an advertisement in the paper to recruit a talented singer would be a good option because otherwise, “we’re just going to have to set a microphone really far away so you just can’t hear us.”

While Martin may be successful at playing the harmonica and the guitar, his newest instrument he’s determined to add to his repertoire is the ukulele.

“Yeah, I know,” he jokes, “there’s probably not that many 240 lbs, 6-4 guys playing the ukulele, but you can travel with it and take it pretty easily on a plane or a bus.”

This willingness to explore new instruments is indicative of Martin’s personality. Not an avid fan of the television, Martin keeps himself occupied searching for new activities including a new fascination with the Rubik’s cube, something the whole baseball team is getting into.

“One kid brought in a cube and then everyone bought one and now we time ourselves to see who finishes first.”

When asked about other pastimes he is discovering, he laughs, “Do you want me to be totally honest? This is going to make me sound like the hugest dork, but I’ve been doing a lot of whittling.” Although Martin makes fun of himself when he introduces his hobbies, it is easy to see from the smile on his face that he enjoys the adventure of acquiring new skills and certainly takes pleasure in doing something different than his comfortable routine of baseball and academics.

When describing his hobbies, Martin oftentimes mentions how many of his teammates are involved in comparable activities. It’s as though the camaraderie on the field translates to camaraderie off the field as Martin depicts the team as one that “loves Rubik’s cubes, whittling and harmonicas.”

It seems as though we’ll just have to wait to see what the new hobbies this skilled musician and his teammates delve into throughout the season.