16. September 2008 · 4 comments · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: ,

“Woman, you did it again! Where on earth have you been?”

Yeah, even those who IM me haven’t seen me around much. And definitely no e-mails…

I’ve been on a mission since last Saturday evening.

“What happened Saturday evening?”

I had a couple “friends” contact me through Facebook. Friends from a life I’d all but forgotten.

“Okay? This doesn’t sound like it’s going in an appropriate direction…did you do prison time?”

No, not at all! I was a strolling violinist as a teenager.


(Can you find me in the picture?)

My former school system in Norfolk, VA, has a pretty elaborate music education program. Definitely one of the perks of public school (Music Education: that’s for another discussion). One of the programs offered was The Strolling Silver Strings. They had rehearsals once a week and played about 200 shows per year. You got into the group by audition, and each year there would only be about 7-8 positions available to be filled.

And the group sought more than just a skilled musician — the directors also assessed personalities and showmanship. Now, I guess most of the time my talkativeness can get on folks’ nerves, but in this case it was a plus…I’m not afraid of people, that’s for sure!

My freshman year of high school, I took a plunge and auditioned. I remember the audition being in the fall, and I found out I made it the same day as my first swim team practice in late November or early December. And the two weren’t going to mix one bit. I remember that being a rather tough decision, and I even remember writing a letter to my Dad (who I believe was out to sea at the time, or he might have been at a school in Newport, R.I. — Dad, where were you in Fall of 1987?) about the decision I was facing.

So before the holidays in 1987 I quit the swim team and started rehearsing with the Strolling Silver Strings (from here on out I’m calling it SSS). It was tough! You had to learn a repertiore of not-always-for-strings-music (such as Glenn Miller or John Phillip Sousa) and not just play it well, but play it well from memory.

And not just play it well from memory, play it well from memory while walking around your audience.

I remember my first concert in Jan 1988…it was for a Norfolk Chamber of Commerce annual meeting, we were expected to stroll throughout this HUGE grand ballroom playing while the participants were eating at a luncheon.

Our director, Frank Rodgers, was a very talented music arranger and had the best time transforming all sorts of music into something whimsical for violin, viola, cello and bass! It was so amazing!

Over the 4 years I spent with the group, I got better at the music and more comfortable playing while strolling. I’ve played throughout Virginia (including Virginia Governor Doug Wilder’s Inaugaration in 1990), along with Walt Disneyworld, and a small tour in the Mont Blanc valley in France. This link tells a little more of the story of how we got to go to Europe in 1991.

Even our cellos strolled! It was a sight to see!

I made some of the most wonderful friends, about a dozen of whom are now new friends on Facebook. A couple of them I’ve kept in touch with off and on since high school, but now we’re even finding some of our musical directors and they’re helping us find other former members. It’s pretty neat!

As you saw from the link, the group still exists today. If you’re in the Norfolk/Va. Beach area, don’t hesitate to consider the SSS for your next official function if you are looking for fun entertainment. Best of all, they’re FREE (so long as it’s during the school year).

If you’re on Facebook, check out the Strolling Silver Strings — Past and Present group. If you’re a former Stroller — especially in the first 10 years of the group’s history — reading this blog, head on over to Facebook to see more.

So my mission that’s kept me off the blog all week till now? To find, scan, and upload to Facebook the 100+ photos I have of our group from my 4 years with them. I’ve found about 2/3 of them so far, I’m still seeking my pics from Walt Disney World in 1989.