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Are you interested in joining New Horizons?  It's easier than you think.  Click here for the contact page and we'll help you get started.

Following are more stories of Finding Happiness in New Horizons:


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Flute Happiness
Leslie Lindler

My name is Leslie Scott Lindler.  I am retired from the Defense contracting world where I worked on an assortment of projects related to data analysis, database design, web site content, and customer interface.  I am also retired as a Commander in the United States Navy Reserves, having served 22 years in Active and Reserve Duty with mobilization and activation.

I was raised under the soundboard of my mother’s Steinway grand in Canandaigua, N.Y.; began playing piano at age 4; and when reaching musical independence at age 8, gave in to the call of the flute.  I played (not studied) the flute through my sophomore year in high school.

Years later, I found myself working in Duesseldorf, Germany.  I soon realized that I was surrounded by professionals who had Playing Music as their number one hobby.  I could not resist joining them.  Therefore, my first major purchase abroad was the Pearl flute that I play to this day.  Just for fun, anytime, anywhere – there was someone that wanted to play–flute duets, piano and flute duets, jazz band ensemble, music performance private parties, and finally the University’s student orchestra–all came calling.  I can assure you that I was not that good, a feeling I think we all share that keeps us practicing.  The point is: the more you play, the better you inevitably get.

Fully retired from my day job, I returned to the familiar Upstate New York landscape to reconnect with old friends and to explore the brilliant cultural milieu of Rochester, N.Y.  It was easy to find places where I wanted to volunteer.  I soon became a Docent at the Memorial Art Gallery and spent a number of years ushering at the RPO.  But for me, listening to great music is not as satisfying as attempting to play great music.  I began looking for people with whom I could play.

I loved my first foray into the First Unitarian Church on Winton Road.  The school year 2022 had already started and I was looking for the Music Theory class and any other agreeable ensemble.  I began asking people for directions and luckily ran into conductors Priscilla Brown and Deborah Parker of the Green Band.  They were kind enough to make a few calls which determined that the Music Theory class had been cancelled.  I must have looked quite dejected.  Priscilla asked, “Well what instrument do you play?”

I said, “Flute.”

She said, “Well, why don’t you join our band, we need flutes.”  And that was that.  No auditions required and a welcoming cadre of caring bandmembers.  The Flute Choir under the direction of Eric Bergeman completed my Eastman Community Music School (ECMS) enrollment for that year.  I loved it!  Great people, great conducting, great music.

This year I am enrolled in Symphony Orchestra conducted by Nancy Strelau and the Flute Choir conducted by Eric Bergeman.  I also joined the New Horizons International Music Association (NHIMA), which I highly recommend as an invaluable source of affordable online short courses on a plethora of musical subjects.

Truly hooked on making music, I attended the Roy Ernst Music Institute Music Camp at Chautauqua, N.Y. last September and will be joining the American Music Abroad coterie in Prague, Salzburg, Vienna, and Budapest – June 27th – July 7th 2024.  Come join us!

To the network of professional musicians, conductors, composers, and educators willing to share their expertise; to Dr. Roy Ernst and his vision of musicianship at any age; and to all with whom I play–thank-you for knowing that music never gets old.

I Love My Cello
Tod Timmel
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You can only imagine my reaction, when at my first cello lesson in 2020, my teacher instructed me to start each lesson by hugging my instrument. Hugging and demonstrative behavior was never part of my German heritage, but love was, and so with a hug in the privacy of my home, my cello journey began. I had played cornet, trumpet and fluegle horn in grade school and high school and typical of many New Horizons musicians had never forgotten the joy of making music with others. In a bittersweet moment I found out about New Horizons in an obituary about Ed Mizma, one of our original band conductors. I had just retired and I wanted to find out more so I called Marcia Bornhurst Parkes, a conductor at the time and in 2005 I quickly moved into the Concert Band. I remember the thrill of playing The Royal Fireworks music and Victory at Sea: two of my favorites from High School days.

I liked playing in New Horizons Concert Band and the camaraderie of my fellow musicians. I  soon found that being in New Horizons was similar to being locked in a candy store  where you just can’t get enough. I played trumpet in the Jazz Band, Antique Brass, and  the Orchestra. Then on a dark October day in 2020 I was told by my cardiologist that I  could no longer play the trumpet.

I remembered Pricilla Brown talking about fellow  musicians that had changed instruments for health reasons. I had always said that I loved  cello and would certainly play it in the next life. (My dog Little Bear wishes I had taken  that option). How hard could it be? Four strings and a bow. I never considered I would  need to learn bass clef, and I’m still struggling with the physics of beautiful sound.

 Dr  Kodzas and others were helpful in moving me to the world of strings. I was quickly  introduced to Cheryl Guth, the director of Green Strings. She is a marvelous educator and  conductor. This all happened right in the beginning of the Covid pandemic and instead of sitting around drinking Clorox I discovered Zoom. My private instructor (pray for her)  resides in Interlochen Michigan and I continue Zoom study with her. 

As a true music lover I enjoy all sorts of music including choral singing. I had started  singing in church choir as a child. Music enhanced and has become an important part of  my spiritual and worship journey. At one of the first Spring Flings I discovered the New  Horizons chorus. I had not sung secular music in a long time and thought it might be fun.  Our conductor, Juli Elliot, is not only an amazing singer but teaches the physiology of  singing in addition to all the other aspects of choral singing. I had never had any formal  vocal training and welcomed this.    And so as my musical journey continues; with more love of music than talent, and as age  and health issues take their inevitable toll, I will hug my cello tighter and sing and sing  and sing some more.   

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NOTE  I am so grateful for our conductors who bring decades of teaching experience to our  program, balanced by the fresh talent of our wonderful mentors. 

Finding Happiness (Together)

Carole and Dave Teegarden

Carole and Dave Teegarden joined NH shortly after or near retirement, Carole in 2019 (playing clarinet in Green Band), Dave in 2011 (double bass, first Green Strings, then string and full orchestras).  Carole had worked many years as a Clinical Laboratory Technologist, the last 25 years at Highland Hospital.  Dave came to Rochester in 1973 to teach organic chemistry, eventually migrating to Eastman Kodak working in polymer chemistry.

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 Carole hadn’t played clarinet since 5th grade, and Dave had never picked up a double bass.  Had he done so earlier, he probably would have chosen something much lighter, like maybe a clarinet.  Furniture moving had never been an aspiration for him.  However, he was drawn to the instrument after many years singing bass/baritone in various choruses – it was the frequency range that resonated.  Unfortunately, repeated advertisements for a roadie to schlep the instrument have gone unanswered.

Carole has been having so much fun playing clarinet in the Green Band that Dave decided to join her this year – also playing the clarinet. This has resulted in dividing his time between the two instruments – musically opposite in so many ways. How brilliant that the NH model provides members a non- threatening opportunity to explore new instruments and/or new musical styles!

We very much look forward each week to participating in New Horizons.  Our conductors always seem able to find music with the right balance of enjoyment and challenge.  Each conductor brings somewhat different backgrounds and learning experiences to their groups, teaching us new skills and understanding.  In addition, through NHIMA we have taken the opportunity to attend several band and orchestra camps – at Chautauqua, NY; Mt Tremblant, Quebec; and elsewhere.  It is lovely to meet so many nice people from far-flung NH groups and to make music with them in such scenic locations.

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About 10 years ago, the First Unitarian Church music director said that he was starting a ukulele orchestra.  Carole said that she would like to join, having played a uke earlier in life, something Dave had never known she had ever done.  And to think we know our partners pretty well!  That was the beginning of our involvement with the local ukulele community as well as with NHIMA ukulele activities.  We enjoy making music with many uke friends and, in Carole’s case, organizing very successful regional Ukulele Festivals.  

We are fortunate indeed to have such an active daytime New Horizons program in Rochester – a variety of ensembles at different skill levels, talented and patient conductors including Eastman graduate students and retired music teachers, convenient and varied rehearsal spaces, and most importantly, a large number of like-minded friendly people with whom to make music as well as friendships.  The benefits of playing in an ensemble are well recognized as we engage our brains and various other muscles while we concentrate on our notes, rhythms, fingering, dynamics, pitch, tone, etc., etc.  A few of our colleagues strive to play solos on their instruments.  Some of the rest of us sometimes say, “Oh darn, I just had a solo,” (aka, played through a rest)!  Our best truly is good enough..

Trumpets and Drums: A Decades-Long

Dream Deferred

Elaine Miller

My musical career began with the wood block, as a third-grader at John Greenleaf Whittier School in Teaneck, NJ.   I had good rhythm, and Miss Robinson, the teacher, noticed.  I was permanently assigned to the wood block, and I loved it. But in the fifth grade I was steered to the violin. I liked it, but I didn’t love it. I secretly dreamed of trumpets and drums. I never spoke about my attraction to those extroverted brasses and percussions.  I somehow knew they were off-limits for me. Girls did not play them. Girls played flutes, violins, and clarinets.

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But my musical career did not end with that third grade class!  Years later, as I neared retirement, a good friend who knew of my love for music steered me to a band she had joined, the New Horizons Band. I gave it just a moment’s thought, then happily signed on.   I could learn a new instrument from scratch. Maybe even a trumpet or drums! I decided on drums. I had found a personal new horizon.


I joined the band as a percussionist with zero experience.  Uneasy about making a loud mistake, in our first session, I tried to play on the rubber practice pad, but the conductor spotted that and took it away!

I love to look at the instruments that my companions bring to the band, some for their shiny new-ness, others because they have acquired the character that comes from loving use over long periods of time.  Especially the tubas, whose dings and dents win my affection. They make me smile.  My old wooden snare drum, inherited from my next-door neighbor, stands out amid the shiny metallic showiness of the ones played by my fellow percussionists.  I think of my older sister’s advice concerning performance activities: “never let your outfit or your equipment exceed your skill level.” 

 The drum I have is the right drum for me. 

 While each group of instruments has its predictable character, the band members’ creativity shows up in the devices they have jerry-rigged to transport them, a whimsical assortment of satchels and bags, suitcases on wheels, and “retrofitted” blue boxes and shopping carts. They fit the intended casual, non-intimidating atmosphere. The conductors’ quips reflect that, too.  They joke with us, playfully:

            “Remember, first do no harm.”

            “Anyone who commits an unintended solo must stand up and take a bow.”

            “That was the best concert B-flat I’ve ever heard…. Who wasn’t playing?


The New Horizons Band is special to me in many ways.  Besides the camaraderie with a wonderful collection of “seniors” sharing their excitement over a new adventure, , there are the summer outdoor gigs that we do in local communities who welcome us with  delightful enthusiasm for our performances, the school gigs at which the students laugh with joy as we display the instruments, showing special delight over the tubas.  And, of course, the end-of-year concert at Kodak Hall


The New Horizons Band is a gift to the community--a labor of love offered up so generously by the conductors and the tutors.  Their talent is remarkable, their patience is limitless, and their sense of humor is, happily, very expansive.



Garrison Keillor, in his satiric piece called The Young Lutheran’s Guide to the Orchestra, observes in his sardonic way that, “To each person God gives some talent, such as writing, just to name one, and to many persons He has given musical talent, though not as many as think so.”  Perhaps.  But I am glad that the members of the New Horizons Band do not linger on this question.  With earnest dedication, youthful exuberance, and the delight of making credible music, we play on.

Elaine K. Miller


Finding Happiness
Gina Maldonado

I am so happy to be the newest member of New Horizons. I am having a lot of fun and have rediscovered the joy of playing in a large group. I had a list of things I promised myself I would do when I retired and one of them was to get back into playing my flute. Here is my story about finding New Horizons.


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I had not played regularly since high school, other than a 7 year stint in the student - parent band at Willink Middle school in the 2000s. Playing with all three of my children was a blast. Other than that, it had been way too long since I had played. 


Upon retirement I went to Thomas music and had my flute overhauled. They were excellent and excited that I was going to pick up my instrument again. To encourage me, they gave me a brochure about New Horizons but I was too nervous to call. 


Watching the news late one night, I saw the community story about the 90th birthday party celebration for a long time member and I thought “that’s the band from the brochure and everyone looks very nice and normal and welcoming” so the next day I called Eastman Community Music School. 


The office gave me the email of the band directors and I realized that one of them was Larry Neeck, who had taught my children music AND co-directed the student-parent band. Small world! When I emailed Larry he remembered me and was very encouraging.

I took a deep breath and summoned my courage and came to a rehearsal and I love it! It is a challenge for me because I have not played for so long.  However, it has been such a welcoming and encouraging group and  I am improving every week. The directors are excellent and it is simply a wonderful group.


Want to add some music in your life?

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The Eastman-Rochester New Horizons Program can help your musical dreams come true. Tailored for seniors, but open to all, Click on the  Contact Us page, send us a message and we'll help you get started.

Are you interested in joining New Horizons?  It's easier than you think.  Click here for the contact page and we'll help you get started.

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