Doug Alt

 

“Legacy” Stories

#1 - Mabel in Wisconsin:

After one of my music performances at a senior citizen residence facility in Wisconsin,  a small group of former musicians of various kinds gathered around me to “talk shop” a bit. At some point in the conversation, it was mentioned that I should really talk to “Mabel” (who was lingering over on the sidelines).  “You see, she’s a REAL musician... a VIOLIN player!”.

Well, it turned out that she was also a real peach - bubbly and friendly. During our little verbal exchange, she mentioned that she had always wanted to record her violin playing, but that she had never had the proper opportunity. She was 92 years old now, but had played in major orchestras in her 20’s, and had maintained a fair level of skill throughout the years since.

I perked up at that, and mentioned to her that I had my recording gear with me and I would be willing to record her efforts.  We set up a recording date for a few days later, and managed to capture enough of Mabel’s playing (along with her niece, Janelle, accompanying her on the piano) to fill up a standard-length CD.

A “CD” Release” event was scheduled for a few days later at a restaurant owned by some other members of Mabel’s family. (Oooh... “CD Release Event” - don’t we sound like really BIG STUFF these days...) Well, it actually turned out to be really “Big Stuff”. It became clear that Mabel’s relatives had been bugging her FOR YEARS to make some recordings of her artistry.  We all had a celebratory dinner, then I set up the PA system to play Mabel’s newly-recorded performances. The family members were in tears with the heavy emotion of finally having a permanent momento of Mabel’s work. The other patrons in the restaurant that night, many of whom knew Mabel from her years of operating a local business in the town, were also in tears. Plus, the recording engineer (that would be me...) was an emotional-slob basket-case as we all listened to the ethereal violin music that had been captured just a few days earlier.

In planning a subsequent tour to the Minnesota/Wisconsin area about 6 months later, I contacted Mabel to invite her to play violin as a “guest artist” at one of my “Luncheon/Concert” events near her neighborhood. She had been thrilled.

However, I got a call from her about 2 months prior to the scheduled show date that we had set up: she had suffered some tendon damage to her fingers, and... she may never play violin again.

Her family does, however, have the legacy of those captured musical masterpieces that we recorded during those magic moments the prior year...

A good friend of mine, as a personal development challenge, took up violin lessons at around age 65, with moderate success. Subsequently, his wife found out that he had actually started his music experiences on the ACCORDION, back when he was a teen-ager. She proceeded to surprise him, one day, with the gift of a VERY nice accordion, and... he was thrilled! He had finally come full circle back to his musical roots, and he was very excited.

I had been talking to him for several years about recording some of his playing. Finally, now that the accordion had come back into the picture, he called me to set up a recording date.  We got more than a dozen songs “in the can”, and I was able to create a CD of his efforts that was distributed to his family.

About 5 months later, I found out that he had had a serious bicycle crash, with arms and wrists receiving extensive damage. He may not be able to play a musical instrument again.

Fortunately, however, his musical legacy had been preserved, at least in part, for his descendants.

#2 - John in New Jersey:

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