West Bloomfield musician, massage therapist credits gifted hands for success
By Jessica Schrader
C & G Staff Writer
Ralph Koziarski, of West Bloomfield, was born with natural rhythm.
He was the type of kid who could never stop tapping his pencil on his desk at school, and he knew he wanted to go into music from his early days. Now an acclaimed jazz artist and a certified massage therapist, Koziarski, said he owes it all to his hands.
“My hands work for me,” said Koziarski, who is known for his hand percussion and woodwind skills, one-man-band style of jazz music, and his deep, therapeutic massages.
Koziarski has been a professional woodwind musician since 1975 and has released three CDs. He has practiced massage therapy since 1982 and was voted “Best of Detroit” for massage therapy four times in the Metro Times and also named “Talent Deserving Wider Recognition” for his music.
When Koziarski was 8, he asked his parents the dreaded question of whether he could play the drums.
“They said, ‘Well, you know, the drums are kind of loud and kind of big,’” he laughed. “We had a small house on the east side. My parents said, “’We don’t know that drums would be good; go talk to the band teacher.’”
The school band teacher advised Koziarski that the band needed more clarinets. Though he wasn’t “all that inspired” by the clarinet, he did realize he had a natural ability for music and he continued to play various instruments through school and while attending college at Wayne State University.
“I realized I wanted to play popular music, like rock and jazz and stuff like that, [and] they weren’t really teaching that at Wayne State then,” Koziarski said.
He eventually left school, got married and soon began practicing his two passions — music and massage — professionally.
For his latest CD, “In Search of an Oasis,” Koziarski – now single – took a different approach than with his first two records, which were more “ambient in nature.”
This record is great for use as background music, during a massage, he said, “just by the nature that it is mellow.”
“Different music creates different moods and feels … This is more just relaxing. A number of people say that they find it to be nice in the morning,” he said.
Ultimately, Koziarski said, “I guess we’re all in search of an oasis.”
Donna Terek, of Detroit, is one of Koziarski’s massage clients and has known him for about 15 years. She said she listens to the CD during her massages.
“It’s extremely mellow and relaxing and puts you in a sort of meditative space,” Terek said. A photographer, Terek said she has had shoulder pain from frequently carrying heavy camera bags, and Koziarski was the only person who could correctly identity and treat her problem.
“He is the most fabulous massage therapist,” said Terek. She and her husband have also enjoyed seeing him play music many times and in various settings, she said.
In his spare time, Koziarski enjoys spending time with his daughter, father and friends.
“I enjoy my time to relax, but then I also like to be active,” he says. “I try not to be stressed out. What’s the point? I gotta practice what I preach, right? I tell people, ‘be relaxed’ — I should be, too.”
Both music and massage provide Koziarski the opportunity to do what he loves — bring enjoyment to others.
“It’s like with both of my professions, you’re giving the people pleasure and something that they enjoy. People enjoy hearing music; you’re creating a fun atmosphere, and maybe creating a party in music. And I enjoy doing massage because I see it’s helping people and it’s making them feel better,” he said.
“They’re getting immediate pleasure, and I’m getting that immediate feedback and having fun doing it … and then I get paid,” he laughed. “I feel blessed in that.”
Koziarski will perform with The Ghost Band Dec. 17 at the Cass Café and with the Luddites Dec. 23 at the Cadieux Café. For more information on Koziarski, visit his Web site at www.kozimusic.com or e-mail him at RalphKozi@comcast.net.
You can reach Jessica Schrader at firstname.lastname@example.org