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Friday, August 10, 2018

Age can't dull Kaplan's passion for music, teaching | Johnston Sun Rise

Photo: Johnston Sun Rise
"If this is his retirement, no one told Lloyd Kaplan" inform Tony LaRoche.

With his 85th birthday today, Kaplan will be working. Tonight, he’ll lead his band of well-seasoned musicians, The Aristocats, in a night of swing at The Towers in Narragansett. 

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Kaplan, who earned his bachelor’s degree in music education from the University of Rhode Island in 1959, isn’t even the oldest of the band’s core members. That honor goes to 98-year-old guitarist Nat Piccirilli, of Johnston. The youngsters are drummer Joe Holtzman, 71, of Warwick, and bassist/vocalist Dennis Pratt, 75, also of Warwick.  

At the Towers, The Aristocats will play a set of jazz, swing and Dixieland standards from the early 1900s through the 1940s – Ellington, Gershwin, songs from Tin Pan Alley and the Great American Songbook. They’ll also play a number of audience requests. With a couple of centuries of musical knowledge at their fingertips – Piccirilli himself has a mental library of more than 2,000 songs he can play on guitar or banjo – the band is seldom, if ever, stumped.  

“We’re flexible,” says Kaplan, with a smile. “Not physically, but musically.” 
But making music is just the B side of Kaplan’s retirement plan.

While he’s been playing tenor sax and clarinet professionally for more than 60 years, he may be better known as an educator.

He knew music would be a big part of that world. A number of his bandmates in the 62nd were music majors and educators; that interested him. Using the G.I. Bill, he enrolled at URI in 1956 because of the University’s music program. “I had a good time there,” he says. “It was a good experience – good instruction, good teachers.”

After three years at URI and one at Brown University, where he earned his master of arts in teaching, he started his career at Hugh B. Bain Junior High, in Cranston, in 1961. Besides teaching music, he taught reading and spelling. He had no training, but he loved it. He realized he enjoyed teaching in a classroom setting more than the band room.
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Source: Johnston Sun Rise