Q&A with Tim Marron

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Tim Marron:  Yes, I just read A Complaint Free World (by Will Bowen). My father recommended it actually.

The Commons:  Does he think you complain too much?

Tim Marron: (Laughs)  No, not at all. He and my mom came to visit a few weeks ago and he was wearing a rubber, purple-colored bracelet. And I noticed he was kind of quiet; usually he's quite funny and sometimes uses humorous sarcasm quite a bit. He seemed really pleasant and happy and wasn't joking around as much. So I asked him, "What's the bracelet for?" And he said, "Funny you should ask." He told me the premise of the book is to make you more mindful of the words that come out of your mouth and the manner in which they do, and so every time you say something that's a complaint or sarcastic you are mindful of it and you switch the bracelet to the other wrist.

Now that I have the opportunity to be executive director, I'm responsible for setting the culture, so I've been talking about how important it is to have a positive and productive culture, that any contact you have with the public or with each other in a work environment needs to be positive and productive. Otherwise, it distracts from the mission, and on a personal note, nobody wants to go to work in a place like that. I've worked in hostile work environments before, and I've found them to be destructive.

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In the police world I always told my recruits, That one contact you have with a citizen, it might be your 50th contact that day and you may be tired and ready to get off shift and all that and it may be an annoying complaint. But for that person, it may be the only time in their life that they contact a police officer, so if that interaction is not positive and productive, that leaves the person with a lasting impression of you, your organization and law enforcement in general.  That interaction may make the person hesitate the next time they need to call police.

The Commons:  I know that in your spare time you compete in singing competitions and serve as a certified international singing judge. Can you talk about that?

Tim Marron:  Yes, my twin brother and I compete internationally in a quartet (we started in a quartet at age 11 with our father), and my wife is an international judge, vocal coach, choral director and quartet champion-that's how we met. So this is a big part of my life outside of work. My two high-school age sons also sing in a local chorus with me called the Northwest Vocal Project.  Last year NVP came in 6th Internationally.  We go all over the place judging and competing-North America, Europe, New Zealand, Australia…

The Commons:  I don't suppose there are too many police officers or public safety directors participating in vocal competitions...

Tim Marron: (Laughs)  You'd be surprised how many people in law enforcement and public safety are involved in music or the performing arts.

The Commons:  Did you ever sing someone their Miranda rights when you were on the Puyallup force?

Tim Marron:  I never did that but when I taught in elementary schools for the D.A.R.E. (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) program, I did a lot of singing there because when you're a police officer the first thing they see is the gun on your gun belt, so singing helped them understand that police and firefighters are just like their mom and dad, just normal people. That was a good way to kind of shock them into, Wow, this guy's got a sense of humor and he sings well. A great way to bridge the gap.

The Commons:  What kind of songs do you perform and  what's your favorite one to sing?

Tim Marron:  Most of the stuff we do are typical jazz standards. My favorite song to perform is a ballad we sing called "Time After Time," which Frank Sinatra sang in a musical back in the late 1940s. It's one of the songs my wife's chorus (Lions Gate Chorus from Vancouver, BC) sings.  It's one of the songs that made me fall in love with her.

The Commons:  What's the highest finish you've had in competition?

Tim Marron:  It was in a quartet, and we finished 23rd internationally. My wife's quartet won the International Gold medal in 2003. It's like the Olympics of singing. She's Canadian and her quartet was the first Canadian quartet to ever win in international competition.

TimMarron2_Feature Tim Marron (second from left) is pictured here (l. to r.) with twin brother Mike, sons Austin and Connor and wife Sandy.

The Commons:  What's involved in being an international singing judge?

Tim Marron:  Every three years you go through a certification process that's about five days-and, of course, you've already gone through training-so we have certain criteria that we're judging the performance by. And in our category we're looking to see how the individual singer and the ensemble use resonant, freely produced singing to have an artistic impact on the listener. In fact over the July 4th weekend, I joined my wife in Toronto for the men's international competition. A chorus that I got to coach, and my brother sings with, "The Voices of Gotham" from New York-yes, they're the dark knights of a cappella I guess-competed. They came in 18th last year, but came in eighth in the world this year. So they were very excited.

The Commons:  Do you watch any of these reality TV shows out there with people singing and competing to be the next big thing?

Tim Marron:  The only one that my wife and I watch is "The Voice," because they're extremely talented people. I really don't watch anything that has the freak-show factor.

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