Steve Matzkin’s personal zeitgeist is “Follow your heart in life and see where it takes you.”
In Matzkin’s case, his heart has led him to two extraordinary careers.
“I’ve been able to make a reasonable living both as a professional timpanist and as a chiropractor,” he said.
So it’s not surprising to find that this man’s Santa Barbara garage truly mirrors his life.
“I’ve set up my three-car garage so I can have a music studio and a light and airy chiropractic office where I see my patients, and I still have a personal area with space to store my motorcycles,” he said.
Music has always been a big part of Matzkin’s life.
“My parents started me young with violin lessons, but the violin wasn’t me,” he said. “In fact, I found the instrument that was right for me in elementary school when my mother took me to a concert and I experienced the timpani (kettle drums) for the first time. But playing timpani at school wasn’t all that cool, so my parents gave me a drum set instead.
“Much later I was able to become reacquainted with the timpani, and I knew immediately I had been right so many years before. The timpani is my instrument.”
Nowadays, Matzkin’s garage music studio is filled with gleaming copper kettle drums.
“These have a marvelous sound,” said Matzkin, tapping a pair made in the 1920s from calf skin.
“I became a chiropractor because the chiropractor I was seeing for treatment told me I would make a good one myself,” he explained. “At the time, all I wanted to be was a musician. But later, when I realized how hard it was to make a living at it, I decided to follow her advice and go to chiropractic school.”
After 35 years in the practice, he’s never regretted that decision.
“I did my first chiropractic adjustment on my pet hamster, who was losing his hair,” laughed Matzkin. “It was a great success.”
For the budding chiropractor, it was the beginning of an unusual practice.
“I’ve worked on as many animals as I have people over the years — from a goldfish that couldn’t swim upright to horses — because if it works for people it works for animals,” he said. “Animals suffer just as we do, and I get a lot of satisfaction from relieving their pain.”
As for the Harley-Davidson parked in his garage, “Well, I picked that up on my birthday,” he said. “It’s such an American icon!”
And, although he doesn’t say on which birthday he got it, it seems to take years off him every time he rides — because, like all things Matzkin does in life, he does it with all his heart.