Life (With Strings Attached)

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Sitting in the balcony at the First Presbyterian Church on North Main Street in Honeoye Falls, I couldn’t help but wonder. It was Ray Milne’s funeral service. He was an amazing man. Long ago, during my term of public service, he offered sound and wise advice. He was a man many could look to as a community role model. I only wish I could accomplish half of what he did.

But that’s not what I was wondering about. The setting itself took me back. When I first moved back to Mendon in the late 1980s, I joined many civic groups, hoping to discover what I could offer my adopted hometown. Several of those groups convened in the meeting rooms of the church.

That was a time long ago. I started thinking about all the people I knew back then. Some of them were in that church celebrating Ray’s life. Most of them were celebrating with Ray.

The solemn but sweet music coming from the organ helped place me in the mood to Continue Reading “Life (With Strings Attached)”

Style or Substance? A Real-World Lesson (Part I)

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I never had someone so mad at me. And for no reason. We were both in tenth grade. Except for orchestra, we shared no other classes. We did share an Italian-American heritage. And she was mad in a way only an Italian-American can get mad. I’d seen it all before. In my extended family. In my neighborhood. In the dark alleys of the most obscure hallways within the school.

I just didn’t get it. I didn’t even know what a concertmaster was. Yet, there I was. Her, me, and the violin teacher.

But I get ahead of myself. Let’s go back to the beginning of the story…Continue Reading “Style or Substance? A Real-World Lesson (Part I)”

Life in the Pit (Part I)

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violin-player-1565772The young mother worried as she made her way to the teacher conference. Her third grade son’s violin instructor had asked her “if she had time to talk.” As a teacher herself, the boy’s mom knew what this meant. She had already begun to imagine various excuses she could offer. “I try everything to get him to practice, but he’s more interested in listening to football with his father.” “His first choice was to play the trumpet, but the school’s music people said he didn’t have the right lips.” “Actually, he really wanted to play the drums, but we thought it would be too loud.”

Most of all she worried about her son. It was her first. With another son following only 15 months behind and now a baby daughter, she realized what every parent realizes at this point – she and her husband were outnumbered. Was she spending too much time with her youngest at the expense of her oldest? She had witnessed such downward spirals first hand in the students she taught. Was she becoming the mother she, in her own role as teacher, once haughtily disdained?

She was about to find out.Continue Reading “Life in the Pit (Part I)”

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