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Know Your Pelicans

Meet Paul Riggio

Instrumental Music Coordinator

Know Your Pelicans

What is your favorite thing about Packer?

You're talking about a seriously long tenure. There are two answers: the first must be the myriad of simply lovely and interesting people with whom I have had more than passing relationships: students, faculty, staff, and parents alike. The parade of personalities alone is astonishing. The personal narratives, spellbinding. The humor, undeniable. I could write a book.

The second answer has to be tradition. We see it every day, in the history of the main building, Founder's Hall, itself, and especially in the Chapel. In the organ and its magnificent pipes, the stained glass, the heirloom 1895 Steinway piano, the woodwork, the columns, the pews themselves, all preserved to remind us of messages brought to light there, the bonds that were formed there.

Describe a favorite or memorable moment in your classroom at Packer.

It should come as no surprise that there are too many moments to designate a single one as being memorable, but I can categorize a few:

The moment when a kid "gets it" for the first time, and one can almost see the lightbulb over his/her head go on.

When an ensemble of younger players begins to come together.

Every musical senior thesis, ever.

The life lessons attributable to music — I use these a great deal.

Name a book/artwork/piece of music that changed your life and explain how.

That's a really rich question. If you'll allow me to wax philosophical for a moment— as one who believes we should never stop learning, I know to my core that we all have much to learn from the masters. No matter the discipline, they are the thinkers, the creators, the inventors, the men and women who are given a blank slate, who by means of sheer invention, seek to inspire us; they propel us forward. For me, they fall into four categories in music:

J.S.Bach, W.A. Mozart , G. Puccini, A. Toscanini

Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Benny Goodman, Louis Armstrong

Paul McCartney/George Martin, James Brown, Motown's Funk Brothers

E. Bernstein, L. Schifrin, L. Bernstein, J. Williams

What is something that most Packer people wouldn't know about you?

Short of issuing an abbreviated version of my C.V, let's play a game. You can decide for yourselves which of these things are true:

Despite current evidence to the contrary, in my teen years, I was, for a short time, a male runway model for a well-known midwest department store.

Also in my teen years, I was designated a first French horn All-American.

Starting in 1975, I played the French horn for a number of television spots, sports themes and movies scores, including some of Disney's favorites.

I once dated a lady who would eventually become Taylor Swift's mother — it was a single blind date and of course she hadn't met her future husband, Scott, yet. We called her Andy. She looked a lot like Taylor does now. Sweet lady.

I was nominated for an Emmy award.

I played third base in AAA ball for the Toledo Mud Hens, but just for one season.

I was inducted into Who's Who of American Teachers, a hall of fame for educators.

I once saved a kid from drowning. He had hit his head on a swimming pool ladder and fell unconscious into the water.

I hold the record (still) for extra points kicked in intramural football at the now-defunct WVU Tech.

I won the American Song Festival honors.

I know how to make stir-fry.

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