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Thoughts from Dr. Joe: Reflections on a Christmas recital

December 14, 2011|By Joe Puglia

My mother taught piano lessons. In 1930 she had her own radio show in Monongah, W. Va. Under her tutelage, I mastered “Chop Sticks,” “Heart and Soul” and just about any doo-wop melody. Years later, I was the darling of every dive bar in the Pacific, wooing the bar girls and providing a respite for sailors and Marines while singing and playing “Angel Baby.”

Philosopher Thomas Carlyle said, “All deep things are comprised of song.”

We all have regrets. One that’s recurring for me is a disappointment that I never learned to play the violin. In the Fleet Marines I’d often travel through Singapore. I would spend hours at the Raffles Hotel there, sipping bourbon and sitting where Joseph Conrad and Rudyard Kipling wrote their masterpieces. I’d listen to a children’s orchestra of violins playing Bach, Mozart and Paganini.

The violin is captivating, especially for the wanderer. Writer Edmond de Goncourt tells us, “A poet puts up a ladder to a star and climbs it while playing the violin.”

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My daughters play the violin in the LCHS Orchestra and take lessons from Amy Herrick. Last week Amy orchestrated a Christmas recital for her prodigies. There were more than 80 children, parents and friends anticipating a production of classical and Christmas music at the home of Meghan and Kirk Broberg.

As I walked to a corner in the back of the room, I noticed a little wide-eyed girl named Sydney Blake. I asked, “Are you nervous?” She nodded pensively. Regardless, she was there to play. I stood adjacent to a nativity scene. I counted eight nativity scenes in the room. The spirit of Christmas was all around us.

I took note of Carissa Rayer, the youngest and smallest protege. She wore a red dress, sat pensively and barely filled half a chair. As she got her cue, Carissa approached the stage with poise and began to play “Twinkle Variations.” She had a moment’s hesitation, but stood her ground, undaunted. Amid the stare of endless eyes, she played on. Here was a special child.

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