Steven Frederick grew up playing all sorts of musical instruments, but he stopped playing when he got a job as a Wall Street lawyer. After all, he lived in a New York City apartment, and the neighbors would have squawked had he played saxophone or clarinet at all hours.
But when Frederick moved to Connecticut and started a family, he got back in tune.
“Now I drive my family crazy,” said Frederick, who frequently performs in Fairfield County musical theater productions. “So not only does my family want to divorce me because I keep playing these instruments, but I keep buying them too.”
A litigator whose practice is heavy on employment law at Wofsey, Rosen, Kweskin & Kuriansky in Stamford, Frederick practices his music in the basement of his home or in the bedroom of his son, who lives away at college.
“When I’m playing a show, I have so many instruments set up, I literally take up half the room,” Frederick said.
Sometimes, he said, he leaves the law offices at lunch time to go home—when no one else is around—to practice.
“They call it practice for a reason,” he said. “Practice can be repetitive because you are trying to learn things. You have to play it over and over again so you can master it.”
He continued: “Just like in a courtroom, I want to know the facts and the law. It’s the same with music. I work hard at getting it. Despite the fact that I’m amateur, I don’t want to sound like one.”
Frederick, who is trained in the clarinet, saxophone and flute, plays tenor sax and clarinet at Temple Sinai in Stamford at Friday night services. He also plays in community theater pit orchestras several times a year, playing alongside professional musicians.
“For example, in November, I played flute, clarinet, and tenor saxophone in ‘The Drowsy Chaperone’ at Trinity High School in Stamford,” he said. “In December, I played flute, clarinet, bass clarinet, soprano saxophone and tenor saxophone in the Stamford all-school musical production of ‘Shrek the Musical.’”
Frederick started playing clarinet when he was a child. He decided to learn saxophone so he could play in a jazz band, which took road trips across the country.
“So I played alto and tenor sax in high school and in college played in the jazz band,” he said. “In high school, I played in every musical group the school offered—the [regular] band, orchestra, jazz band. I also sang in various groups.”
He attended college at Tufts University in Massachusetts, graduating in 1986.
“In college, I played tenor sax in the Tufts Jazz Ensemble, where I doubled occasionally on clarinet and flute,” he said. “In jazz band, both in high school and college, we played a wide variety of music, from typical swing band jazz, to modern music, such as Steely Dan.”
He went to New York University School of Law, playing each year in the pit band for a light-hearted theatrical presentation known as The Law Revue.
“Some of the students involved in the productions had experience in college and even professionally, so the shows were quite good,” Frederick said. Legendary sports broadcaster Howard Cosell, an NYU Law alumni, “came back for one of our shows and actually was on stage at the end. He had a few lines.”
After law school, Frederick worked two years in a New York City law firm, taking an informal sabbatical from music. He joined Wofsey Rosen in 1991, and got back into the swing of things.
His practice is a diverse one, including employment law and a variety of commercial, civil, construction and business litigation. He also serves as general counsel to businesses.
Frederick said that because he works hard as a lawyer and puts in long hours, it’s enjoyable to have an avocation where he can be creative in a different way.
“It’s nice to have a diversion outside of the law because the law can be all-consuming,” he said.
For the most part, Frederick said, he does not take money when he performs.
“It’s like writing a big check [to a charity]. It’s another way to give back to the community,” he said. “It’s more fun than writing a check, that’s for sure.”
And when he’s not performing, what are his musical tastes?
“It is very eclectic,” he said. “I pretty much listen to everything, from old-style jazz to the modern tunes that my kids listen to. I have thousands of songs on in my iTunes library, and when that isn’t enough, I listen to satellite radio or Pandora.”•