MEET THE STAFF: Paul Surapine, RI Philharmonic Music School Faculty Member

Where did you grow up? Enfield Connecticut, suburb of Hartford, and just south of Springfield MA.

Favorite meal or restaurant? Many, but my “neighborhood hang” is the Caffe Sorrento in Milford MA.

Coffee or Tea? Mostly coffee, a nice espresso at night, occasionally tea.

What instrument do you teach at the RI Philharmonic Music School? Clarinet, Saxophone, and Clarinet Ensembles.

What inspired you to take up that instrument and how old were you when you started? I was 9, fourth grade, started in the public school instrumental music program in Enfield CT. Wanted to play trumpet but they said my teeth were too crooked. Second choice was clarinet, because I had seen a movie with Steve Allen “The Benny Goodman Story” that summer, and liked the music in it and the sound he made on clarinet. I had my first lesson on a Monday, September 30, 1968.

Who was your best teacher and why? I had several very good teachers that all sent me along the same path. My main teacher was Kalmen Opperman in New York City for almost 15 years, 1978 to 1993 or so.

What inspired you to start teaching? Started teaching when I was 14, going into 9th grade. I was helping out at the Enfield Public School summer music program, teaching some little beginners and I really enjoyed starting them out the right way and molding them into good players, modeling everything on what I was being taught.

How long have you been teaching at the RI Philharmonic Music School? Over 10 years, can’t really remember my starting year date.

What do you enjoy most about teaching? Sharing the joy of exploring great music and also of accomplishment when you work towards mastering a craft like instrumental performance.

What do you want people to know about the RI Philharmonic Music School? Great place, great community of people working to build and share a great culture and bring it to all people regardless of demographics of economy, education or backgrounds.

How are you keeping yourself occupied while being at home all day? Yes, teaching via Zoom, cooking a lot, trying to work on our garden, and running my own orchestra organization.

You’re stuck on a desert island… what book, music/album/artist and movie do you want with you? Too many to choose, I’d need a library float. Just a clarinet and my etudes memorized in my head. and some sun block.

%d bloggers like this: