Shared Music Stories

From: Claudia Cooley

My story is unique in that Vera is my mother. I was blessed to have her come into my life at a time when I as lost and disconnected to the world around me. When she and my dad offered their support, I was also given the opportunity to start a new life which included learning to play the oboe - Mom's instrument. Her love and sharing of music has made a profound difference in my life and those of others.

From: Char Baker

My high school choir director (also the band director) asked me to play the tympani. Since kettle drums were not conducive to marching band, I played the cymbals-not very challenging. My brother-in-law gave me his saxophone which I learned to play and I was in the HS band for four years. A trombone player wrote a piece called "The Battle of the Saxes". Our great saxophone section played it at a concert. Loved HS band! Hurrah for the Risdon fund so kids can have the same wonderful experience.

From: Lynn Desmarais

I joined the band in 6th grade and played a used ebonite clarinet my parents bought for $100. in 1973 our high school marched in the Cherry Blossom Parade in WA, DC. We also played at the Kennedy Space Center for the Apollo 17 astronauts' return visit! A couple of weeks prior to that we lead the parade down Main Street at Disney World! What great experiences for a 16 year old!!

From: Milton Snyder

In 1939 mom urged me to join band. I was in the 5th grade. We drove from Weippe to Lewiston, Idaho to Mann Music Store where mom bought me a used, ebonite clarinet. I played it from elementary through college, passing it on to my son, Craig Snyder who became the Sehome High School Band Director in Bellingham, Washington. The most important part of my social life in high school were the friendships I made in band. However, I was never 1st chair - definitely a second row player.

From: Mollie Ewing

I came home from school in fifth grade raving about the string teacher who visited our classroom and said we could play an instrument. I started violin that year and never looked back! I played throughout middle school, high school and college, where I chose to pursue a career in music education. Having taught in Issaquah and now with the Bellevue Youth Symphony, I'm BEYOND thrilled to open Risdon as their orchestra teacher, passing on my love for music to my future students!

From: Paul T. Jackson

I met my first bass drum--from high school through college, I had to pretty much learn to repair percussion instruments and buy all my own miscellaneous traps, cow bells, whistles, sticks, mallets, etc. And even now I find myself repairing, refurbishing percussion so we have the best sound possible. It's paid off over the years, working with noted musicians as Robert Shaw, and George Crumb (composer) and many others. Having a good instrument is a great investment keeping one's interest in music.

From: Kathleen Sidwell

We always had music at home with singing and playing the recorder. At the UW, I wasn’t getting to know anyone very well. A friend’s brother suggested I try out for the Husky Marching Band and I actually made it into the percussion section. The section leader then introduced me to the equipment manager, Jerry Sidwell. We were married in 1975 and now 40+ years later,Jerry and I have five children, all of whom have played in either band or orchestra (or both).

From: Molly C

In 3rd grade my parents decided to get me piano lessons and when I was in 5th grade I decided to join the 5th grade band and play the flute because I thought the flute was a really beautiful. I really enjoyed playing in it because I think music is really fun and it is a good use of time because it teaches you new things In 6th grade I wanted to play a string instrument because I thought it would be a challenge. It has proven to be a challenge, but a good one.

From: Liz

"When I was in 5th grade, we had instruments donated to our school. Our music teacher was teaching us how to use string instruments, I got the violin and ever since then I've loved to play it. And on our field trip to Seattle Symphony I just loved hearing the violinist play and ever since then I've loved it."