This is a reprint from an interview/article that ran on social media in November of 2023
What instruments do you play and how long have you played them?
Piano was my first instrument, and I've dabbled with many of the instrument families, but it
was the guitar I fell in love with as a young teen. My most recent jam is the double bass, or
upright bass, as we casual players sometimes call it.
How long have you presented for MIL/MAW?
I've been part of the San Angelo Symphony's Music in Literature and Music and Wellness
community outreach programs for about a decade.
What other programs are you part of?
In addition to performing at clubs, galleries, wine bars and private parties around San Angelo
both as a solo act as well as with other local musicians, I have been pleased to help children
and teens with guitar, ukulele and voice instruction at Emmanuel School of Fine Arts here in
downtown San Angelo. The goal is to make lifelong musicians like me!
Do you have any other roles in the Symphony?
Not yet! Not all of us at SAS can participate on stage in the ensemble musical form that is a
symphony orchestra under Maestro Guzman's direction. Most of the operation of the SAS
organization is not even performed by my fellow musicians, but by dedicated art lovers behind
the scenes. We who are musicians appreciate the hard work that goes into keeping our San
Angelo Symphony rolling.
What is your favorite MIL/MAW story?
When in the course of reading a book about music for elementary age students, or leading
them in singing, or demonstrating an instrument during a Music in Literature presentation, my
favorite moment is when I identify those few kids who truly light up. While every child loves
music and books, not all will get bit by the music bug and wish to pursue becoming a musician.
As for Music and Wellness, my favorite moments occur with those silver people whose
memory has faded. If I can find just the right song from their earlier years, when I play music
that was meaningful to someone in their youth, if I can use music to stimulate the deepest folds
of the brain where earliest memories are stored, I see the happiness when these shut ins
recognize and even sing along with some favorite song. Whether it's a beloved old hymn, a one
hit wonder from their favorite rock band, a folk lullaby sung to them by their grandmothers, or
some other long forgotten song from the Hit Parade of their youth, the therapeutic power of
music in behavior and mood in folks with dementia is well documented by brain researchers.
Why is this program important to you?
Both MIL and MAW are hugely important. The Music in Literature program helps to identify
and encourage budding young musicians. (I was once such a fledgling musician.) The Music
and Wellness program comforts and entertains those whose lives have diminished. (I will one
day be approaching the end of my life with declining abilities.)
Now for some fun questions...
What is your favorite food?
I'm an omnivore.
Do you have any pets? If so, what do you have and what are their names?
I love the entire animal kingdom, but am currently the personal assistant to three formerly feral
cats. We all pretend they are domesticated. Assigning a name to them is rather pointless.
Do you have any hobbies?
I have always enjoyed numerous hobbies and am constantly developing new ones. For
instance, during the plague of 2020 I used my stimulus check to buy a sewing machine and
have thoroughly enjoyed it.
What is your dream vacation?
Any place that I can take my family with me. Nantucket Island's Christmas Walk or Puerto
Vallarta's folk art galleries or a summer YMCA cabin in Estes Park or a theater junket to New
York City or a staycation with my amazing husband, all are fabulous.
Is there anything else about you that our audience might enjoy knowing?
During my 20s and 30s when I was working constantly as a professional musician (six years
in New York City, ten years in Japan, a couple years in Los Angeles and Dallas), I lost the joy of
music when it simply became the way I earned a daily living. Being a San Angelo Symphony
musician has restored my love of the art of music."
SEE CALENDAR OF EVENTS FOR THE DATES WHEN ELLEN WILL BE PERFORMING AT THE GARDEN LOUNGE!