Peace and percussion

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Local school counselor finds faith in music

By JAKE SMITH Coeur Voice Writer

Adam Foote’s father was always excited by the drummer during worship service at his family’s church.

Years later, Foote, 33, carried his father’s passion for percussion to Idaho.

A handpan musician and Borah Elementary school counselor, Foote was raised in Ohio on his family’s seventh-generation farm near Cleveland.

Foote was an adolescent when, after his father passed away, his mother put a drum kit in their basement and signed him up for lessons.

By high school, he worked his way onto his church’s stage, playing drums for the main worship service.

“I have always had percussion in my blood. I was the type of kid that was [always] tapping on something or beating on something,” Foote said.

When watching YouTube videos while donating plasma a couple decades later, he became inspired by a new percussion instrument: the handpan.

It took a few years, though, to get to where he is now with the instrument, having recently released his second album, Coeur Dreams, under the name Ethereal in E.

He said the issue was first finding a handpan.

“Well, the problem is that these handpans are ridiculously hard to get,” Foote said. “The handpan itself wasn’t originally created or invented until the year 2000.”

A company in Switzerland patented the instrument, he said, and was the only organization able to make it, but others in various countries eventually replicated the process.

Foote said he contacted a company in Indonesia and was placed on a waiting list.

To this day, he’s still on that waiting list, but in 2015, his luck changed as he was walking by Independence Point in Coeur d’Alene.

“I saw a guy playing one — never seen one in person before. I was complete deer-in-the-headlights dazed,” Foote said.

After approaching the musician, Foote was connected with a Los Angeles craftsman, Stevan Morris, who had started making them.

Foote placed an order with Morris’ company, Hamsa Handpans, waited a year and received the third-ever handpan the craftsman made, a prototype tuned in E minor.

His favorite place to play that handpan, he said, is in front of Mik-N-Mac’s for bar-goers and on sidewalks for tips, but as the temperature dropped, he recently moved indoors with consistent gigs in local restaurants like Kaiju Sushi & Spirits on Sherman Avenue.

Foote has also played in school assemblies at Borah Elementary, where he’s in his fifth year as their school counselor.

Like being a professional musician, he said being a school counselor had been a dream for him.

Although, that took a bit of time as well.

After graduating from a Christian college in Indiana, Foote and his first wife arrived in Post Falls, in 2006. They had wandered from Ontario, Canada in a Chevy Astro van with an air mattress in the back.

He said they stopped to visit friends, but soon found out he and his wife were expecting a child.

“So we decided we probably shouldn’t have a baby in a van, and we stopped and found a place to live and had my daughter. She’s going to be 11 now,” Foote said. “I started a family and went to graduate school, got my master’s in social work. I wanted to be a school counselor, which I am now.”

Foote said his daughter started playing music at a young age the same way he did — piano lessons.

She now plays the violin and is in harp lessons in Post Falls.

There are connections between his work as a therapist and as a professional musician, Foote said.

“I don’t speak with my music,” he said. “Same thing with my job. I don’t speak so much with my job, I more listen. It’s more about them talking to me and telling me what’s going on. And I guess that’s how I see my music too ... How can my music relate to other people and how can my music improve other people’s lives?”

He said he has a lot of compassion in his heart and wants to show empathy for others by listening.

By creating a sense of peace in himself and his music, he said he is able to help others.

“I guess that’s part of the connection between my day job and being a musician is that it all comes back to faith,” Foote said. “If I can find peace within myself, and I can be at peace, people are drawn to that.”

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