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Along Twin Ponds Road

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By Ray Willis

I was doing my early morning XM radio channel surfing when my ears caught a bouncy and light tune that also seem vaguely familiar.  I turned around to view the window on my radio which revealed I was listening to an Aaron Copland piece.  It was called "Duo for Flute and Piano."

 As I listened to the rest of the work by Copland it reminded me of just how much I have admired this man and his music throughout most of my life.  He wrote this particular piece in 1971, just a year after I had had the wonderful experience of watching him conduct the Hartford Symphony Orchestra.

For me, what I had just listened to was a typical Copland work accompanied by music that made you just want to tap your foot or dance to it, if you could find the right steps to use, that is.  I had always thought of so much of his music as “busy.” Sure, there were soft, melodic parts to several of his musical compositions, but among them he wrote ballets, and they were meant to be danced to.  "Billy the Kid," "Rodeo" and "Appalachia Spring" were his most popular ones.

I took Music 101 as one of my elective courses when I was an undergraduate at Central Connecticut State.  There had to be a few hundred other students packed into the Welte Hall Auditorium.  Mr. Treggor, the teacher for the course, said that if one per cent of us ever attended a symphony on our own it would be a miracle.  Thanks to that course I developed a profound love of what I call “serious” music, as not everything I listened to was “classical.” I am deeply indebted to Mr. Treggor for introducing me to music.  I have enjoyed many years of attending the symphony.

Dr. Howard Zettler was not only my introductory writing course instructor in college; he was a good friend.  In the early 70s I used to take Howard to the symphony with me.  He was always appreciative as he did not drive back then.

In the early 70s teachers were “a dime a dozen.”  It was really difficult landing a full time teaching position then.  Howard Zettler was responsible for my changing my major from history to English.  He was also my first mentor.  Howard said that my writing showed real promise and that I had the makings of a fine secondary school English teacher.  God bless you, Howard.

Howard was with me the day I watched Aaron Copland conduct the Hartford Symphony.  We both had a wonderful time.   Mr. Copland led the orchestra to many of his own compositions.  Neither Howard nor myself had had any idea how animated the maestro could be.  He waved that baton with such gusto I thought he’d lose it.  He bounced and moved in such a way one could only smile while watching him.  It was truly my greatest moment at a symphony.

I hope that your weekend was a restful one and that you have fine memories of musical experiences, perhaps attending the symphony or a concert, (of any venue), and of special teachers, and what they may have done for you;  and that you don’t ever sell yourself short when it comes to attempting to make your dreams come true.

God bless you.