Tom Pedas Archives Music Quotations
May your life be filled with song.
let there be laughter, and sharing of pleasures.
For in the dew of little things
the heart finds its morning and is refreshed.
Note of appreciation from a former student
Dear Mr. Pedas,
I hope this doesn't catch you too off guard, but I'm writing to say thank you. It may be 30+ years late, but it truly is heartfelt. Although I'm not sure you remember me from the sixth grade class ('72/'73 I believe) at Croton Elementary in New Castle, PA, I've thought of your influence often. Our paths crossed for just a moment in time, but as your accomplishments over the last three decades indicate, your positive musical influence on young people has obviously continued for a lifetime.
Thank you for being one of the first adults, outside of my mother, to affirm and attempt to develop a personal talent of mine. At that time in my life, I had little self-confidence and struggled to break out of my inadequacies. Unfortunately, your genuine efforts to cultivate my abilities and challenge me beyond what I thought I was capable of, went for the most part unappreciated. I have few regrets in life, but one I will never forget is the time I backed out of singing the 'Gary, Indiana' song from the Music Man. Thank you for believing in me then.
Thank you also for exposing me to the varied world of music. I can still vividly recall you hauling a carload of sixth grade boys to a performance of 'Fiddler on the Roof' in Youngstown, then to the 'Red Barn' for a burger. While we seemingly were more interested in producing static charge displays in the darkened aisles of the theater, your effort was not in vain. Some of us never get to see the fruit of seeds planted in faith. I just wanted you to know that the "Music Man' and 'Fiddler on the Roof' are at the top of my list of favorite musicals! And can we ever forget the 'Age of Aquarius?'
Sadly, I did nothing with my voice in middle and high school. It wasn't until college that I began to have the confidence to venture back into the realm of singing. Becoming a part of the college choir was a turning point for me. My confidence grew...due to the sheer joy of watching an audience respond to good music! From that point on, I have had the pleasure of singing in multiple choirs, including our current church worship choir, in musical productions and solo performances.
Over the last 22 years I have worked with teenagers as both a youth minister and special education teacher. I rarely get to see the results of my efforts, let alone receive a thank you. That has inspired me to make sure I communicate with all those who have invested in my life, expressing my heartfelt thanks and letting them know they hold a special place in my heart. I truly am a blessed man!
Lastly, thank you for continuing to share that with which you are supremely gifted (my mother thought you were the greatest thing for Croton since sliced bread!) No doubt countless students and parents are grateful for your work over the last three decades. In an age of shrinking budgets for the arts, may you be provided with the necessary resources to carry out the task of inculcating the next generation with a love and appreciation for music.
Thanks for taking the time to read this.
Mr. Pedas's students are pictured above as youngsters performing in the Linden Summer Playhouse. They include Jil Durbin, Barbara-Jude Greco, Andrew J. King, and Kevin M. Brady, Jr. Each has continued their interest in music. In addition to being teachers, a fireman and a policeman they are also actors, singers, directors, choreographers, and founders/directors of community playhouses. Read about their success in establishing the Mystic Vision Players and their production of "West Side Story"
Read about their success in establishing the Mystic Vision Players and their production of "West Side Story"
THANK YOU MR. PEDAS
A tribute to Tom Pedas written by Rita Greco
He took them on a journey each summer,
Pedas Student describes variety of topics Pedas taught
To the Chronicle:
There are very few places where John Lennon, Beethoven, The Righteous Brothers, George Frederick Handel, Andrew Lloyd Webber, Leonard Bernstein, and Barbra Streisand come together in the same room.
There is seldom a place where languages such as Italian, Latin, Greek, German and English can be incorporated into the same lesson.
I know of only one place where such an assortment of students with such a wide spectrum of interests can work together to achieve a single goal - to make the Cranford High School Choirs some of the best on this side of the country.
This place I speak of is Mr. Pedas' classroom.
I have been a student of Mr. Pedas for the past three years. As a freshman, I had my own ideas about what should be sung in choir class. I felt popular music from popular artists should take precedence over music written hundreds of years ago, by unknown artists. I was dead set against singing any music older than I.
In addition to being made to sing this old music, Mr. Pedas gave us music that I couldn't even pronounce the name of, let alone sing about: Vere Longuardes Nostros, Nigra Sum, Deo Gracias! Who did this man think he was? How dare he try to expand my musical horizons!
Now, he wanted us to sing without a piano. A capella? This man had some nerve training my ear to pick up on my mistakes instead of ignoring them and just letting the piano cover them.
This is what is known as a teacher. A teacher with strong convictions, a diversity of musical interests, and a compassion for his students that surpasses any I've seen in a long time.
It took me this long to realize what Mr. Pedas was trying to do. Although I personally only wanted to sing Barbra Streisand show tunes, the girl next to me preferred a capella music, and the girl two seats down enjoyed singing in a different language. Mr. Pedas exposed us all to at least one song that each person could appreciate.
In just three short years I have not only acquired a tolerance for classical and foreign music, I've acquired a preference for it
(Letter written by a high school student, Kara F.,printed in the Cranford Chronicle, July 28, 1993)
Cranford Fortunate to Have Mr. Pedas
To The Chronicle:
...We Cranford residents are extremely fortunate to have the caliber of administrators and teachers that currently grace our public schools and no one exemplifies that more than Mr. Pedas. He does so many positive things for the children of this and other communities. Because of him and his tireless efforts, Hillside Avenue School students have been represented in the state chorus every year for as long as he has been affiliated with them....
I have had the pleasure of attending many rehearsals for and the productions of The Grammar School Chorus, The All-State Chorus, The Celebration Singers, and the Cranford Repertory Theatre's production of the musical "Oliver." All of these wonderful groups exceeded everyone's expectations, including those of the participants. I know first hand that Mr. Pedas is the driving force behind them striving for excellence and subsequently achieving it. He treats the children like adults; that is, he gives them the respect they've earned by auditioning and being chosen for the hard work necessary to make each program a success - that motivates them to contribute their best effort. With the respect he imparts a standard level of responsibility for each individual for the good of the group - that builds character and self esteem. The quality of his musical instruction and ethical standards are beyond reproach....
I neglected to mention that the largest portion of Mr. Pedas's time with the children is volunteered and he receives no compensation other than the satisfaction of assisting us in demonstrating to our youth that you can go as far as you want in life if you dedicate yourself to your goals. Mr. Pedas is a shining example of how to keep our children focused on the positive things in life and he provides the framework for their successful transition into adulthood. It is my sincere hope that every community has a least one individual as dedicated to our children's personal growth as Tom Pedas is
(Letter written by a parent, Ed E. printed in the Cranford Chronicle, May 28, 1998)
Choral Director Hails Former Peer at Cranford High School
To The Chronicle:
September is beginning and I would like to pay tribute to a marvelous teacher and choral director...
As choral director at Scotch Plains-Fanwood High School, and a member of the New Jersey Music Educators Association, I have admired Tom Pedas' work for some time. Cranford residents should take great pride in the fact that their choral program is widely known outside the town of Cranford.
Not only has Mr. Pedas expanded the choral program from 72 to more than 200 students including a boys chorus of over 30 boys (a tremendous number of students given the school's total enrollment of 800), but the quality of that program is outstanding. For the last several years Cranford has placed among the highest number of students in All-State and Region chorus, a very visible distinction afforded your high school.
In addition, Mr. Pedas has managed and directed New Jersey Region II Chorus. For many years he has donated his time to increase the opportunities available to his students. Mr. Pedas also serves on the New Jersey Choral Procedures Committee and the Region II governing body. All of these selfless involvements have brought honor to Cranford High School.
Having attended the Cranford High School spring choral concert in May, I must agree with judges who have rated the concert choir as one that performs difficult music with such sensitivity, that it is a rarity to hear such perfection at a high school level. In addition, the madrigal singers are unsurpassed by any high school madrigal groups. With a great deal of effort and expert teaching, the building aspects of the program, i.e. the men's and women's choirs, have grown impressively.
Beyond the recognition, Mr. Pedas is unassuming, kind, caring, talented, and has boundless energy. He has high standards and is able to take students beyond what they might have achieved otherwise. Perhaps the most impressive thing about Tom Pedas is his rapport with students and colleagues. It is so refreshing to know a man, who at choir festivals, would give credit for running them successfully, to others who had equally participated. What a wonderful quality for students to observe....
(Letter written by a music teacher, Laurie Wellman, - printed in the Cranford Chronicle, September 1, 1993)
Thursday, December 17, 1998
To The Chronicle:
What a wonderful introduction to the Christmas season Cranfordites enjoyed last Friday and Saturday at the United Methodist Church when the Celebration Singers gave their annual holiday concert.
Under the expert direction of Music Director Tom Pedas, a full house was treated to a delightfully diverse program of Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa music. Mr. Pedas, music instructor at Hillside Avenue School in Cranford, led a talented and diverse chorale of about 60 voices ranging in age from very young children to adults.
I personally enjoyed seeing the coming together of the generations, both in the chorale and in the audience. I particularly want to point out that a former student of mine was singing alongside her mom and dad.
The enthusiasm of the singers and their leader carried the evening to an uplifting experience. All in all, it was an inspiring evening. I've attended the group's holiday concert for the past three years and find that with each succeeding year, they perform consistently with a high degree of professionalism and talent. Kudos for the singers and their director.
I recommend that Cranford residents do not miss this wonderful group next year which is right in their own community.
Tom Pedas, The Celebration Singers and Children's Chorus