Playing On

A Wakefield violinist opens up about his 74-year love affair with music


Paul Pelletier can’t tell you exactly why he was so drawn to the violin, but he says the first time he was handed one he “melted.” That was the beginning of a 74-year love affair with the instrument and music itself. Pelletier, a Rhode Island native, was just 11 when he began private lessons. By 14, he was playing at weddings. He jokes that anyone can learn to play the violin in one lesson... and about 25,000 hours of practice.

Those 25,000-plus hours of practice have given him a repertoire of over 2,000 songs. Classical certainly, but also big band, opera and show tunes, German and Italian music, and even Elvis. Over the years, he has played for various venues and events, including as a strolling violinist, with the highlight being a Pavarotti concert.

Pelletier says that he is a sensitive person. But it is that sensitivity and intuition that allows him to “read” the crowd and adapt accordingly. One time, at a blacktie event, a gust of wind pulled his bow out of his hand. Luckily, he was able to grab it before it fell. “I was looking at all these people looking at me and wondering what I could play next to recover,” he said. So, he played “Wind Beneath My Wings” and the audience cracked up. It is his quiet humor and mischievous glimmer in his eyes that endears him to his listeners.

Pelletier has tendonitis in his hands, but he says that the pain disappears the moment he starts playing. And that is what he hopes to do by playing for people in nursing homes, hospitals, and Alzheimer’s units: Change their mood and take their worries away for a short period of time. Although applause and compliments are nice, he enjoys it most when he forgets about the technical aspect of playing and the music just flows from his heart and soul.

Pelletier’s love of music and people have given him a rewarding life – “May these melodies bring you warmth, serenity, and healing,” he imparts. For all events, large or small, contact Pelletier at 401-788-0090 – and yes, he can play “What a Wonderful World.”