Frank J. Casler and Susan E. (Zellweger) Casler
This marriage was made in heaven, but so was lightening and thunder!
Susan E. Zellweger- Casler
I was born Susan Zellweger, in Syracuse, NY.
One of the earliest memories I have from childhood is that of an event in our family called the Swiss Picnic.
It was an annual event at Pratt’s Falls, NY that kept me connected to the fact that I was born in a family of Swiss immigrants, who came through Ellis Island in the 1920’s.
Here I am on the left at communion with
my mother Mary, father Bob and brother Tim.
I grew up in a pretty average middle class family in Oneida, NY where I would complete all of my primary education. By today's standards we were poor. We just never knew it, as was everyone else I knew.
In elementary school I discovered the clarinet through the recruitment of a man named Thomas Mirante, the band teacher. I would later study with Salvatore Matina.
I diligently played that
instrument up until
graduation, by that time
achieving the rank of soloist
in the Area All State Band.
Here I am in 6th grade.
Do you like the glasses?
At right is my high school graduation photo. Throughout high school I had a job
as a Nurses Aide at Oneida City Hospital.
When it was time to make a decision between nursing school and music school I was torn. Music school won, however, within 2 semesters I knew I would not survive.
Piano was a required instrument and with instructors who assumed a music major should surely be able to play Beethoven with two hands from the very beginning, I was doomed.
By the fall of my sophomore year I transferred to Syracuse University’s School of Nursing. During that education I married my husband Frank and upon graduation we started a family with the addition of our daughter Heather. During those years I devoted myself to family, church and career.
Music took a distant back seat and frankly became a forgotten friend.
At age 46 I experienced one of those life changing events that truly make one think about mortality, future and life’s temporary nature. When all was said and done I had to ask myself if this illness would have taken my life what would I wish I had done differently.
The answer was twofold and immediate: a Caribbean cruise and finding a way to add a meaningful musical experience back into my life.
The first step in this journey was selecting the vehicle. In Broadalbin, NY I did not see much call for a classically trained clarinetist.
My girlfriend Peggy and I discovered the Irish
Pennywhistle which opened up an entirely new
repertoire of music and acquaintances.
You are listening to a tune called "Maple Sugar" played by Vic kibler.
My main instrument would become the fiddle.
I was blessed to find not 1 but 2 teachers.
Victor Fountain Kibler would introduce me to the local down home Adirondack style of fiddling, mind blowing for someone from my background.
Everything is done by ear and without written music.
William Scott West would teach me the
book methods and purpose to round out my
rigid conservatory preparation.
"And if anyone thinks starting to learn the fiddle at age 46 is easy, have I got news for you. Things hurts still that you can't imagine. Each advance brings a new pain. There is a reason people should start as children, their bodies and minds are still flexible."
What's the difference between a Violin and a Fiddle?
I play a Bradivarius violin, which is a Strad copy, developed by Brad Higgins of Hartford, NY (check out: http://www.bradivarius.com/). Truly a marvelous instrument.
I have been blessed also to attend wonderful workshops and camps taught by some of the best fiddlers in this country. My favorite was Meadowlark Music Camp in Washington, Maine. Once Meadowlark dissolved the Mountain Arts Gathering at Paul Smith's College took its place and I continue to enjoy this each year.
I also became certified as a therapeutic musician by MHTP (http://www.mhtp.org/).
The purpose of this program is to learn to play therapeutic music for people who are ill or dying.
Currently, I am a member of the colonial band Liaisons Plaisantes. Be sure to see that page on this website.
After working as a Family Nurse Practitioner in Primary Care with Dr’s. William Mayer and Kevin Cope in Broadalbin, NY the wind of change blew my way. In October 2011 I will shift my career to NP in Palliative Care at St. Mary's Hospital in Amsterdam.
At right I am giving a speech at a New York State
Nurses Convention in NY City.
I will probably retire from St. Mary's. So today I
am a nurse, but I am also a musician.
Just call me a musical nurse.
In 2010, with a desire that people would not forget the old hymns of Christian faith, I founded "Sacredicity". This is a Mountain Dulcimer Club meeting monthly at Time For Truth Ministries in Amsterdam, NY. All are welcome.
Frank thought he would have to call the FBI to get my information,
but here it is.
Tooting my own horn has never appealed to me but he seems to think someone would be interested in this.
Check out this motley crew... Susan is in the center with her friend Karen to her left and the Wolfanger boys. Trouble was surely brewing this day!