The Yachats Gazette interviewed Dr. Jai Tomlin on the opening of her new Yachats business located at 162 Beach Avenue.
TYG: What kind of work do you do?
Dr. Tomlin: I am a doctor of chiropractic and integrative medicine. That means I work with muscles, and bones, and sprains and strains, and any joint in the body. I also work with the nervous system. I work with nutrition and am a wellness consultant. I work with the whole body, and the whole system of wellness. I also practice physical therapy. One of the physical therapies we work with is laser light therapy. It is a way that activates acupuncture points without puncturing the skin. So that will be available here as well.
TYG: What exactly is chiropractic therapy?
Dr. Tomlin: Chiropractic relieves any sort of interference with the nervous system, and so it helps to restore health by relieving things that interfere, like herniated disks, or muscle strains. Because the central nervous system controls the rest of the body, in a way it helps with many things. As a chiropractor we help relieve pain and restore normal motion and health.
TYG: My Dad’s a PA [physician assistant], which is effectively a doctor, except he has a supervisor.
Dr. Tomlin: Yes, I know! We do similar things, but we [chiropractors] work mostly with the skeletal system, the nervous system and muscles and joints, things like that.
TYG-Graphic Design: I was going to ask—you said “anything that interferes with the nervous system,” and I can think of chemical imbalance, sodium imbalance, that kind of thing. Do you treat those as well?
Dr. Tomlin: We do it indirectly. What we do is help the body be as well as possible. In that respect, the body is more able to fight off other things. But of course then we refer to other health care providers if people need medicines, or other kinds of things that we don’t address, because our scope of practice is limited with that. We can’t prescribe prescription medicines—only natural nutraceuticals. So we work hand in hand with the medical profession all the time.
TYG: So I’m assuming that by “disks” you mean vertebral disks.
Dr. Tomlin: Exactly!
TYG: How long have you been doing this kind of work?
Dr. Tomlin: I’ve been doing this work since 1972.
TYG: I see! What made you decide to become a chiropractic doctor?
Dr. Tomlin: When I was young—I was probably six or seven—I woke up one morning and I couldn’t move my neck. I was completely in pain, and couldn’t move, and [I was] scared. And my Mom took me to a chiropractor! And the chiropractor worked on me, and after one visit I walked out and I felt fine. Now, that doesn’t always happen, but it happened to me and I thought “I’m going to do that when I grow up!” [laughter]
TYG: That makes sense! I mean, it could have been more than just joints—it could have been more serious that you might not have been able to understand at that young age.
Dr. Tomlin: Right! It was torticollis—it’s more common in young people, actually. But yes, I didn’t know that—all I knew was that I couldn’t move!
TYG: How long have you lived in the area?
Dr. Tomlin: I have lived in the area for over 20 years! I’m from Alaska originally, but moved here over 20 years ago.
TYG: Alaska, wow! What made you decide to come to this area?
Dr. Tomlin: I followed my heart. I have a way of making decisions that’s not always just linear. I love it here because of the climate, the beauty, and nature…
TYG: I think everyone in Yachats has to agree with that! Most of the time, not including today [gray and rainy].
Dr. Tomlin: No, even including today. It’s still beautiful. There’s plenty of water, and I like that. And I like places that are more rural. I was raised in the rural parts of Alaska, so I’m used to really little towns, and I love them.
TYG: By the way—I’m just interested—what kind of “rural” can you do in Alaska? Was it like reindeer farming?
Dr. Tomlin: Well, at one point I lived above the Arctic Circle, in Brooks Range.
TYG: Oh wow! So then you probably did raise reindeer!
Dr. Tomlin: No! [laughter] But we did all sorts things without electricity. The way we got in was by bush plane, and we snow-shoed around.
TYG: You certainly couldn’t farm, to speak of, there.
Dr. Tomlin: No. I baked a lot of sourdough bread! [laughter]
TYG: You must be kidding. Where did you get the grain from?
Dr. Tomlin: We brought it in by plane. We put the food up on big caches—they’re like little houses on stilts—so the bear can’t get in there.
TYG: That’s very interesting! [Moving on] How do you think this establishment [Yachats Health Care] will serve the community?
Dr. Tomlin: I think it will serve the community by being one of the only health care places here—in fact, it is the only one now. This is an under-served community for health care, and so I’m hoping it will really fill that need. […]
TYG: When do you plan to open?
Dr. Tomlin: February 28, at 3pm and I hope you all come to the opening public reception!
TYG: What did you do before this?
Dr. Tomlin: I was a massage therapist.
TYG: So you’ve always been in the medical field.
Dr. Tomlin: I’ve always been doing body-work of some kind.
TYG: What is “integrative medicine”? On the sign, it says that.
Dr. Tomlin: “Integrative medicine” is a blend of different types of healing modalities. I would like to have this be a place that has not only chiropractic, but has massage, and hopefully some kind of more mainstream medicine like MD, or nurse practitioner. It would be lovely to also have acupuncture. [We don’t have that] yet, but we’re talking to some local acupuncturists to see if maybe part-time [might work]. […] People don’t know that chiropractic physicians are primary physicians, so at least there will be one primary physician in town.
TYG: Yes! My Dad is one actually, and he works at Sea Aire [Assisted Living Facility]. […]
Dr. Tomlin: I’m also an animal chiropractor, and I work with animals. And Luna [one of her two Australian Shepherds] is also a therapy dog, and so is Soleil, and we work with special needs kids in the school system in Newport, and we work together with the kids in the juvenile shelter in Newport.
TYG: I had no idea! It certainly didn’t say that on your sign! You should probably alter it and add more text saying “Animal and Human Chiropractic.” Because there are a lot of pets in this town: cats, dogs, everything. I even know up the River there’s an African Gray parrot.
Dr. Tomlin: I’ve never had people call me before to adjust their birds! [laughter]
TYG-GD: Why is it called “adjust”?
Dr. Tomlin: It’s [called] “adjust” because we’re freeing up normal motion in the joint. And it’s just easier to call it “adjust” because we’re adjusting things so they work and move better.
TYG: Maybe the bird owners could train their bird to sit still while you adjust them.
Dr. Tomlin: [laughter] Maybe! I went to Kansas to learn animals, but I just learned horses and dogs. […] One of the reasons it’s called “adjustment” rather than “manipulation” (which we can also do) is because manipulation is more long lever, more stretching; whereas adjustment is a very quick little impulse. […] Because I’m not a primary physician with animals, like I am with people, every animal I see comes from a veterinarian referral. So I’m more like a physical therapist with the animals.
TYG: What kind of training do you have to have to become a doctor in this field?
Dr. Tomlin: Well, to become a doctor of chiropractic you have to first start out on the same track as the MD’s start out on: all of the pathologies, all of the disease processes, all the microbiology. The first two years of medical and chiropractic are pretty much the same. And then the next two years diverge, and [chiropractic] is more focused on the musculoskeletal system and natural ways of healing, like exercise and diet and things like that.
TYG: And probably your residency is completely different. For example, MD’s and PA’s see humans who are diseased or bleeding…
Dr. Tomlin: There is a last year of residency, and we see humans who are in pain, but not bleeding.
TYG: Do you bill insurance?
Dr. Tomlin: In Newport, I bill every kind of insurance imaginable. I’m starting out here [in Yachats] as a cash practice, and making it very affordable for the community, and not billing insurance. I may change that down the road. […] Lots of people have high co-pays, or high deductibles, so I think it will work out fine. If it seems like we need to bill insurance down the road, then we will.
TYG-GD: You mentioned you have an office in Newport. So are you going to be here part-time?
Dr. Tomlin: Yes. The office in Newport will remain the same, and I’ll be coming down here at the times that I’m not working up there. I have another doctor who also works up there. To start with, I’ll be here on Tuesdays and Fridays.
TYG: Is there a form of PA [physician assistant] in the chiropractic business?
Dr. Tomlin: Yes, but it’s not nearly as involved as being a PA in the medical system. There is a thing called a CA, which is a chiropractic assistant, but the training isn’t as involved as a PA training. It’s more doing things like physical therapy exercises, massage, things like that.
TYG: Could you supervise a PA?
Dr. Tomlin: I’m not sure about the laws on that. […] I’m not planning on employing a doctor, but I’d like to have more of a cooperative, and have the space available. [If there were an MD or NP,] we could be a complete health care system, so that we could not only be dealing with things that can be handled with natural medicine, but also things that cannot be, that need to be handled with regular, allopathic medicine. I’d love for the people of Yachats to have access to all of that.
TYG: What is your more specific specialty? Are you more a general chiropractic doctor, or do you have a branch of chiropractic doctoring?
Dr. Tomlin: I am a rainbow medicine doctor. I do so many different things. Because I’ve been a doctor of chiropractic so long, or been working on people so long, I take a little bit of this, and a little bit of that. I do a lot of musculoskeletal, I do a lot of hands on work; but I am also very good at diagnosing, very good at referring, very good at blood work and lab values, but I also work with people’s health and well being. So I take the whole person into account.
TYG: When did you get the idea to open a store in Yachats? […]
Dr. Tomlin: I wanted to move to Yachats in the beginning, when I first moved here 20 years ago. But at that time I had too much debt and didn’t think I could make a living doing that here. So that’s why I went to Newport. But now I really feel like I’m coming home.
TYG: Do you have any family, and close friends?
Dr. Tomlin: I do! I have all those things—aren’t I lucky? [laughter] I have family: I have my dear, sweet partner Brian, whom you just met; I have four grandchildren—they are awesome, all of them, I absolutely love them, as you can well imagine. They live in Sacramento. My oldest grandchild is living in Portland; she’s 22, and graduated from UC Santa Barbara in Psychology, and is applying to Portland State to a graduate program in Conflict Resolution—she wants to work with the police force.
TYG: When did you open the store in Newport?
Dr. Tomlin: We opened in 1990.
TYG: Do you live in Newport?
Dr. Tomlin: I do; we currently reside in Newport. But we’d love to come and live in Yachats.
TYG: […] How has business been going up in Newport?
Dr. Tomlin: Great. Business is fabulous. I’m so grateful. I saw probably over 12 people this morning up there! I have a very established practice, and a wonderful group of people—some of them I have seen for generations.
TYG: Do you like it here in Yachats?
Dr. Tomlin: I love it here. I think it’s the most special community. I was just reading the vision of the City Council online, and I just feel really aligned.
TYG: […] Thank you so much for your time!
Dr. Tomlin: You are so welcome! Hope to see you at our grand opening celebration on February 28th from 3-6pm.
Interview with Jessica Treon
The Yachats Gazette interviewed Jessica Treon, Individual Piano Instructor and owner of Polly Panda Music, a lesson series centered around young music learners.
TYG: When did you become a piano teacher?
Jessica: I started teaching in New Mexico in the late ‘70s—so ’75, ’76. How many years is that? [counts] 39 years ago. [laughs]
TYG: Interesting! I first remembered you saying you’d been teaching for more than 50 years.
Jessica: I’ve been playing for more than 50 years!
TYG: Ah. I wasn’t clear about that.
Jessica: Yes, playing more than 50 years, not teaching. I’m not that old. [laughs]
TYG: Why did you become a piano teacher?
Jessica: You know, even as a young child, when I went for piano lessons, for some reason I just thought it was a quiet lifestyle, that made me available in my home, and I remember as a young child thinking that I wanted to be a piano teacher. Ultimately, it took me a long time to make the decision, because I got a lot of pressure to do something else that would make me rich.
TYG: What was that?
Jessica: Oh, people said I should become a lawyer, I should become an accountant, I should become a doctor… you know. But what I found out over time is that I have to be doing music to be happy.
TYG: Where did you become a piano teacher? In other words, what college did you go to, or did you just learn as you went along?
Jessica: I have a degree in what they call Piano Pedagogy. “Pedagogy” is just a fancy word for teaching, or education. So my degree is from the New Mexico State University in Las Cruces, NM.
TYG: Not just music pedagogy.
Jessica: No, piano. Specifically piano. It’s basically the same thing as a performance degree, but you do some work on the side about teaching material and how to teach.
TYG: Do you have any family in this area?
Jessica: No. I have no family in this area. We moved here in 1996, and my husband died in 2009, and so I’m the only family here.
TYG: Do you have any other family?
Jessica: Oh yes. I have a big family. I have three brothers, and one sister, and my Mom. But they’re scattered around. And my son! My son is in Texas, my mother and one brother are in New Mexico, and the rest of the family is sort of in the Bay Area, around San Francisco.
TYG: When did you start teaching here in this building (in Waldport)?
Jessica: 2004 is when we got this house. That’s when I set up.
TYG: That’s when you set up Polly Panda [Music]?
Jessica: […] Polly Panda is my pre-school program, which I developed in New Mexico in the late ‘80s. Polly Panda Music is specifically my pre-school program. It’s for children aged two to four. So it’s group lessons, for little kids. And it’s pre-piano. So we do rhythm games and dancing and counting, and we learn about quarter notes and half notes. I teach them the basic terminology of music, the difference between high and low, and how you react to music: do you go fast or slow, loud or soft.
TYG: What’s the name of the course that I go to?
Jessica: I just call my studio the Jessica W. Treon Piano and Music Studio.
TYG: Where did you get the name “Polly Panda Music Lessons”? That’s just so cool!
Jessica: [laughs] Well, it actually just came to me, because I felt like young children would like to have a mascot that they could relate to. So I actually use a large, stuffed bear in the class, and all the classes are on tape. Supposedly it’s “Polly” running the classes. But it’s just a way to give the children access in what is kind of a loving, circle class.
TYG: What did you do before piano, if anything?
Jessica: Ah, well… I used to work for my Dad, who was self-employed, and I did sales and stuff there. And for a while, I majored in accounting, so I had various office jobs doing bookkeeping, accounting-type stuff. Then right before I set up my studio, I used to sell life insurance. Nearly every musician I know has at some time sold insurance.
Jessica: [laughter] It’s not easy to make a living as a musician!
TYG: How does it feel like to be teaching kids their possible future career choice?
Jessica: Well, a few of the students that I teach will end up doing music professionally. […] But most students are going to use music to enrich their lives and to teach them things that will help them with other areas of their lives.
TYG: That’s probably what’s going to [happen] with me, too.
Jessica: A lot of my students, even those who are quite talented, don’t end up majoring in music. They usually have other interests that take them [elsewhere], and when looking at career choices, they feel that it’s not easy to make a living as a musician.
TYG-Graphic Design: How did you choose piano as your main instrument?
Jessica: Well, I started taking piano lessons when I was 9. Before that, my two older sisters took lessons. So, just like kids used to play “house” or play “school,” we played “piano lesson.” [laughter] So my older sister would teach me things before I went to the lessons. Piano is the only instrument I’ve ever really studied. I always loved it. In fact, it was one of those things: I loved it so much that I didn’t realize that other people who took lessons didn’t love it like I did. I thought everybody loved it the way I did, and it was years later that I would talk to people and I would say, “But you took piano!” and they would say, “Well yes, but not like you did!” [laughter] So I just really took to it. I liked playing, and I liked practicing. I mean, it wasn’t “Go practice before you do the dishes.” It was “Please do the dishes before you can go practice.” My mother will tell you that she woke up to music, went to bed to music, she made dinner to music… the piano was going all the time. Not just me, though. My older sister did play too.
TYG: Same thing with me! I’m usually blasting it out.
TYG-GD: Yes, at 11:30 at night…
Jessica: [laughter] You’re a night owl! I didn’t know that! That’s often when I’m practicing, at 11:30 at night!
TYG-GD: I also wanted to ask you a little bit about your activities in Oregon and the local area in terms of piano and musicianship. You said you had a concert coming up?
Jessica: I am an active member of the Oregon Music Teachers Association (OMTA), and so my students participate in the events that we have for students through that organization. That involves them in the Ensemble Festival in the Fall, and the Ribbon Festival in the Spring, and what we call “Syllabus Evaluations.” “Syllabus” is a lesson plan. So the OMTA has put together a lesson plan, much like taking children through the first three grades, we take them through levels of syllabus. And then every Spring we have a teacher from another area, who has been trained to adjudicate, and they come and listen to the students and give us [the teachers] feedback about their progress. It’s a way for the parents to know that their children are learning what they need to know to progress in the world of music, and it’s also sort of a check on the teachers, so that after all the students have played, then [I] go in and talk to the adjudicator, and she will say “Well, everything looks good, but maybe your kids could use more work on sight reading,” or “Maybe your kids need more ear training.” So she tries to find places where you might improve your teaching. And often they bring ideas, or games, or methods of teaching something that really help. It just keeps everybody sort of on task.
TYG-GD: Are you an adjudicator?
Jessica: No, I’m not. I’ve been asked to do it a number of times, but I have so many students that at this point I couldn’t do it. If I get to the point where I don’t have to have so many students at home, then I might be able to do that. I also go to Florence two days a week, so that takes quite a bit of time with the travel back and forth. And then twice a year, the OMTA teachers put on what we call “The Spotlight On The Teachers Concert.” We do it in the Fall, and in the Spring. Last year and this year, our winter concert was a Broadway review, and that’s what we’re working up towards right now. And last year and this year, the funds that are profit from [those concerts] will actually go to the Performing Arts Center’s Capital Campaign for their acoustic improvements, etc., that they’re trying to do at the Performing Arts Center [in Newport, OR].
TYG: Are you saying you don’t get any of the profits?
Jessica: No, the profits never go to any of the individuals who perform. We all perform as a benefit. In the fall and winter recitals, until the last couple of years, [the profits] go to fund our scholarship fund. We have a scholarship fund through the Lincoln County district of OMTA, and students who need to supplement the cost of tuition in order to continue in lessons are put on the scholarship fund. So that’s our primary way of funding it, through recitals; although in the past few years we’ve gotten some really nice donations that have kept us afloat. Generally, for that fund, it isn’t often that a student gets full tuition. It’s usually more like, “Dad’s not working right now, so we can’t pay that much—could we pay a little less?” and we just supplement. The teacher also has to discount their price in order to put them on.
TYG: Back a little ways… Are the adjudicators usually mean, snappy people, or are they more people like you?
Jessica: [laughter] They’re more people like me. The whole point as far as the student is concerned is to give them a positive experience. So usually the adjudicators are very, very supportive, and give you lots of compliments, and…
TYG: Like you.
Jessica: Yes. They’re much more like me. I’m actually the Syllabus chairperson, and […] maybe twice since I’ve been Syllabus chair—which is almost since I’ve been here—we’ve had adjudicators which were not appropriate for our district, and we don’t have them come back, ever. So, most of the adjudicators—especially these days—are very much trained to be supportive. […] It’s a positive experience. No mean adjudicators allowed. [laughter]
TYG-GD: Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?
Jessica: I really love being here in Lincoln County, and I feel like this community, this coastal community—which in my mind, extends from Newport […] down to Florence—is a wonderful place to have musicians and get good family support for musicianship, etc. For a couple of years I wasn’t doing my preschool program, and I’m really glad that’s happening again. I’m actually going once a month into the Yachats Youth and Family Program at the Preschool there, just to give them a little enrichment there […].
TYG: You should come to the YYFAP program too!
Jessica: The problem with the after-school programs is that that’s when I am teaching piano. That’s when my work day starts in earnest. So it’s really hard for me to do anything with the after school programs.
TYG: If you could do that, there are a lot of really talented musical kids in that program.
Jessica: I used to do that—I used to go and spend a whole afternoon over there. But I just don’t have that much time anymore.
TYG-GD: How late do your lessons go in the evening?
Jessica: I’m usually teaching until about 8.
TYG: Who goes here at 8?
Jessica: Older kids, teenagers, some people who can drive themselves. I also teach before school. I only have one student now who comes before school, but I used to have students nearly every morning. It usually works out well for students who are involved with other activities in their after-school time. If they dance, if they’re involved in soccer, that kind of thing—you don’t usually have soccer practice before school. For years, I had a lot of kids that came right before they went to school. […] I teach my preschool program at “It’s A New Day,” in Waldport. That’s where I go every week, and I have two classes going there right now: I have a keyboard class, and a Polly Panda class.
TYG: I might be interested in that keyboard class!
Jessica: That class is just for children five to seven years old, or four and a half to six year olds. It’s group lessons, and they will stay together as a group for an indefinite period, and then move on to private lessons. I have done group lessons for older students, but again, now that I have enough private lessons, I don’t do those anymore.
TYG: I’m just wondering if I could also help show stuff. Since I’m a kid, I might be able to relate to them… […] give them guidance on how to play their pieces better, from my own experience.
Jessica: Well, that’s what we all do. That’s what teaching is about: sharing what we have learned. And that’s what I really enjoy.
TYG: […] What exactly does your profession entail? What is it like, teaching piano?
Jessica: Well, what is it like… I like what I do for a number of reasons. One is that, kind of like your Mom, I need a lot of time by myself. And I am a person who is introverted enough that I don’t like teaching in large groups. Classroom teaching would make me crazy. Directing a choir would make me crazy. Being in a room with 45 people for hours, rehearsing, is just not something I would like to do. I like small groups of people, and individuals. And one of the most challenging and interesting things about teaching piano is that I get a different person in front of me every 30 or 45 minutes. Every person that I teach has their own style of learning and their own style of playing. And so I get a lot of changes; it’s not boring, because every person is different, and my role as a teacher is to approach students that way. […] The advantage of teaching privately is that we can move at the speed of the student—some students move quite quickly, and other students need a lot of time, or they have a lot more activities and they’re not going to devote as much time to piano. I am what I term a mainstream teacher. In other words, I’m not elitist. I’m not looking only for students who are going to major in piano. I want all people to develop a love and a joy for music. I take students even if they’re busy, and they’re not practicing as much as they should. As long as they are getting something out of it and progressing, at a rate I can discern [laughter], it’s ok with me as long as it’s ok with the parents. I try to work closely with parents, and talk to them about what their goal is, whether we’re doing what they want their child to do, because everybody has different values, and different things that are important to them. Some people want their kids to learn church hymns, and some families want them just to have fun, and other families want them to learn everything. So I try to be flexible, and yet give everybody a good musical education.
TYG: Thank you so much for your time!
Jessica: Thank you!