Retired teacher brings history of music and science of recording to lifeWith his old record players and vinyl records, Virg Boehland captures the attention of music aficionados — and science enthusiasts as well.
With his old record players and vinyl records, Virg Boehland captures the attention of music aficionados — and science enthusiasts as well.
A retired Proctor schoolteacher, Boehland gave his presentation “Music Through the Years” at Duluth’s First United Methodist Church after services earlier this month, invoking Thomas Edison to capture the attention of science buffs. He filled the chapel with vinyl records, cylinder wax recordings, Victrola players and photos and news clippings of Edison, who invented the cylinder phonograph in 1877 before being granted a patent for his light bulb in 1880.
Boehland demonstrated the very first cylinder record player, followed by an RCA Victor Victrola player and record players for 78s, 45s and 33 1/3s. He gives similar presentations to area nursing homes, whose residents are quite familiar with vinyl, if not cylinders.
“I play the music through their lifetimes,” said Boehland, who also took requests he played on an MP3 player. “Favorites are The Tennessee Waltz, The Old Rugged Cross by Johnny Cash, Merzie Doats and Dozie Doats and Little Lambsy Divey.”
Before he visits retirement homes, Boehland phones the activity director a week ahead of time to find out what their favorite songs are. “If I don’t already have the selection, I can download it for less than a buck,” he said. “It’s a lot of fun!”
His personal favorite is Perry Como singing “Round and Round.”
Boehland said he volunteers weekly for Essentia with senior citizens and at Pike Lake Elementary, performing a variety of science presentations with the students.
“I try to do things that are really, really fun or things that are really, really important,” he said.
Assisting him is a faithful canine helper.
“The glue to each of my sessions is my dog, Chamie.” Boehland said. “I seldom do any volunteer work with seniors, or schools, without Chamie. He and I went to Buffalo, Minn., two weeks ago, and passed our therapy dog test through Therapy Dog International.”
During his presentation of “Music Through the Years,” Boehland dressed in a suit and bowtie similar to what Thomas Edison wore for photos. He also spoke about the inventor’s life and interests.
Yet some of his inventive trips go back to the future. For his first science session with students, he focuses on flight and NASA.
“I usually wear my flight suit from my NASA Zero Gravity flight for that session.”
If you’d like Boehland to give a presentation to your group, call him at 218-260-0784.