Many people remember playing the recorder at least once, usually in elementary school. Cissy Johnson first played one at school – and she continued playing through high school.
After that she never gave it much thought – not until she was reminded of the instrument in her early forties after hearing its harmonious sound. Her love for the recorder was renewed – and she decided to play again.
“There's something particular about the sound a recorder makes. It's charming,” she said.
Her passion for the instrument grew so strong, that in 2007, Johnson, now a 74-year-old former art teacher, started teaching recorder classes at Osher Academy of Lifelong Learning in Lewes for people of all levels.
Several of her students – from 50 to 80 years old – shared her passion and moved to the Lewes Senior Center so they could play year-round. The group of 11 includes soprano, alto, tenor, bass players and even a drummer.
Johnson more recently has passed the baton to Lewes resident Nikki Roberson, a bass and soprano player in the group and Johnson's former student at Osher Academy.
Roberson, 68, started playing the recorder when she attended Johnson's class six years ago.
“It was so much fun playing with people,” she said. “It's neat that when we get to our age, we can do something new.”
Roberson has arthritis in her hands, but that doesn't stop her from directing the original group and a newer, less experienced group of five musicians that has formed from current classes. The more experienced group practices and performs at the Lewes Senior Center, while the newer group practices and performs at Cadbury, a retirement community in Lewes.
Roberson said both groups perform a few times per year to show gratitude for use of the facilities.
Their repertoire starts with music composed by Bach and Renaissance tunes and includes jazz, folk and even Jewish dance, which they tried last fall. The more experienced group entertained during the July 19 Milton Flower and Garden Show.
“The main reason we play is for the fun of it,” said Roberson. “Everyone enjoys the camaraderie and the challenge to our brains and aging fingers.”
Johnson and Roberson said they love the recorder because its an inexpensive hobby, and there's a lot you can learn from it.
Both groups offer free rehearsals once per week to anyone interested. They only require that interested players know how to read music and are on an intermediate playing level.
Anyone interested in contacting Roberson about the group should call 302-645-4898.