Category Archives: drama

The Assembly Line Mentality and Public Education — Feeding from the Same Trough?

My mother was a World War II “We Can Do It” poster girl. When she wasn’t seated at her sewing machine making gowns and coats and fully lined three piece suits, she worked a semi-automatic machine at Csencsis Manufacturing, a shop which produced nuts and bolts for the war effort.


Every morning, my brother and I would awaken to her shrill holler, frantic herald that our nocturnal sludge threatened to make her late for work. The round jar of Pro-Tek greeted us on the toilet tank, next to her fragile hairnet, foreshadowing that petroleum products intended to protect skin from the stain of petroleum products would shorten her life. And, every day after we walked to school, she’d stand at the noisy, oil spewing tool, tapping and threading out “piecework” until the buzzer signaled either lunch or the end of her shift.


Like everything else mum did, she excelled at the numbers; her quota always long exceeded, the other workers grumbled that her standard was beyond expectation and made them look lazy. But, to her, one must put one’s hand to the plow and do the work to one’s best ability. This was all part of the grand order of things: the assembly line of life, and her part in it.


Back in school, mum was a math “whiz”, and tutored other students. She also wrote clever verse, and kept a diary. But, hers was a life of deferred dreams; winning a sewing contest as a girl, the award — a trip to New York, to study fashion — was aborted when the Great Depression called a halt to everything, and the French soldier pen pal over whose letters she obsessed would never come to the States to finally meet; instead, she would deliver the home baked bread door to door, take in sewing, and marry the Italian soldier, who appeared on the night train just in the nick of time to save her from a life with preacher Willie. Once the war ended and the dust settled, dad would have a house built for her and faithfully carry home the cash from his barbershop, on Saturday nights, to count it on the kitchen table.


The extra money earned in the machine shop meant more material for our clothes, which were all handmade by her, and food for the cooking; my brothers and I ate at mealtime, then dad would arrive home by 8pm to sit down and eat his supper alone. I never had any memory of mum having supper with any of us.


While mum was at work and dad was at work, I’d be up the hill to Lincoln School, watching the other children in my class, trying to remain in my scratchy spot on the Kindergarten rug, cringing bewilderedly at Mrs. Williams gentle scowl every time I opened my mouth, then stretching my arm as high as it could go and waving my hand until she finally let me speak. There were so many things in the classroom — easels, for painting; a piano for playing; so many books to read; so many things to make. I would look around, at everybody on the rug, then stare at the teacher’s laced up shoes, waiting, waiting for a moment to do what I wanted to do. To my eye, everything in that room was there to be used, and I couldn’t stand sitting while we talked about the calendar and the days of the week and what time it was until we could finally do any of it.


Twenty five years later, I would be at the front of the room, facing hundreds of children, all week long. For the first time, I could actually see all their faces, and absorb their expressions. And, for twenty five more years, I did this every week from September to June.

Fifty years went by; had I contributed anything important?


The assembly line mentality had herded me, and my mother before me, into a predictable, limited life. I grew up to perpetuate the myth that controlling the masses mattered most, that a democratic majority could be found among those who followed along. Somehow, in spite of intellectual strength and inborn gifts, my mother would die at age 76 from a cancer which had never, before or since, appeared in any member of her family, a disease which the assembly line had wrought, caused by multiple chemicals produced in shops, chemicals used on the lawn at which she knelt all summer weeding the flower gardens, chemicals in the artificially sweetened beverages she drank to lose mid section weight brought on by daily, sedentary toil and malnutrition, chemicals in the air surrounding the manufacturing machine and in the water she used to make her coffee.


The assembly line generation is fearful that their jobs will be replaced by artificial intelligence. This is borne of a lulled sense that, apart from the job they do all day, their lives have no further value. And, that is tragedy on the cusp of realization.


Ours is a structurally outmoded society. And yet, those in power persist in allowing war to dictate how our economy survives. If this doesn’t change, we could very well starve to death before we have ever truly lived.






© 8/1/19  Ruth Ann Scanzillo      Originally published at    Thank you for respecting original material.


Why You Never Saw Her Out.

Formerly titled:


Professional Pianist / ‘Cellist.

Dear Readers of

A few have pointed out that I have no professional website; herewith a brief history of my work in the region, as a preliminary bio for the future website. Dates are occasionally approximate because, well, I’ve been around awhile and the memory isn’t complete….thanks!

Ruth Ann Scanzillo

pianist; ‘cellist

PO BOX 3628 Erie, Pennsylvania 16508

DOB: April 26, 1957                                                                       814.453.3523; 814.881.5372


SUNY @ Fredonia, Fredonia NY

1975 – ’77 – Graphic Design/Printmaking;

1979 – ’81 – December, 1981: Bachelor of Music, Music Education, magna cum laude, concentration: cello – Dr. Louis Richardson, Professor of Cello;

1989 – ’94 – SAA Suzuki Summer Institutes, Stephen’s Point WI; Ithaca College, Ithaca NY; Chicago, IL; registered, Violin IA; IB; Cello, I, II, and III



1975 – rehearsal/performance piano, Footlights Theatre, Erie, PA

  • “You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown!” – Jane Behan, musical director

1982-83 – rehearsal/performance piano,  Lincoln Theatre, Erie, PA

  • “SUGAR” – Mark Moffatt, director;
  • “HAIR”  —  Mark Moffat, director;

1984 – rehearsal/performance piano/instrumental ensemble director, Erie Playhouse, Erie, PA:

  • “Ain’t Misbehavin'” – Leo Estes, John Burton, directors;

circa 1985 – rehearsal/performance piano, live scene underscoring, Erie Playhouse, Erie PA:

  • “I Remember Mama” – Charlie Corritore, director;

circa 1999 – Piano I,  Fredonia Opera House, Fredonia, NY:

  • “The Fantastiks” – summer stock cast; Harry John Brown, music director;

1999 – 2000 – rehearsal pianist, Mercyhurst University D’Angelo Department of Music:

  • “Song of Norway” — Louisa Jonason, opera director;
  • “Don Giovanni” —– Louisa Jonason, opera director;

2000 – 11 –  Production, direction, set design and build, live piano accompaniment and synth. keyboard underscoring, The Dillon Drama Club,  Grover Cleveland Elementary School, Erie PA:

  • Beauty and The Beast (final production assisting founder Carolyn Dillon)
  • Wizard of Oz (2002)
  • Oliver!
  • Annie, Jr (2009)
  • A Christmas Carol
  • A Christmas Story
  • Spanky and Our Gang (two shorts, original staged adaptations);
  • Star Wars (five movies, consolidated, original staged adaptation by verbal permission conference call w/ LucasFilm licensing);
  • You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown (2011)

2011 – rehearsal and performance piano, Mercyhurst University, D’Angelo Department of Music/opera:

  • “TINTYPES” — Louisa Jonason, director (slated for August, 2011, West Bank Cafe, Manhattan. Hurricane Irene aborted); performed, September 11, 2011, Walker Hall, Mercyhurst University;

2015 – rehearsal pianist, “The Selfish Giant”, original opera by Stephen Colantti, Erie Opera Theatre, Brent Weber and James Bobick, directors;

Collaborative/Chamber Music:

1986 – present:  piano collaborator for juries, hearings, college recitals and concerto competitions:

  • SUNY@Fredonia Conservatory of Music (1989 – 2008) – studios of Barry Kilpatrick, Marc Guy, Susan Royal, James East, Jack Gillette;
  • Edinboro University music department (1999 – 2014) – studios of LeAnne Wistrom, Patrick Jones, David Sublette, Robert Dolwick, Howard Lyon, Brad Amidon, Anne Wintle-Ortega;
  • Mercyhurst University D’Angelo Department of Music, vocal and instrumental performance departments (1999 – 2000; 2008-12) – studios of Louisa Jonason, Geoffrey Wands, Robert Dolwick, Chris Rapier, Alyssa, Scott Meier; and, with Shaun Pomer (1989) and Glen Kwok;
  • Erie Jr. Philharmonic Eiji Oue Concerto competition (1989 – 2013) – violin; trumpet; clarinet; tuba;
  • COYO Concerto competition, Cleveland, OH (2007) – cello; soprano;
  • Young Artist’s Debut Orchestra concerto competition (2007-08) – violin;

2011-12  – rehearsal and performance pianist, vocal performance studio of Louisa Jonason, D’Angelo Department of Music, Mercyhurst University;


including, but not limited to:

  • Artunian; Bach; Barber; Beethoven; Bernstein; Bozza; Brahms; Britten; Creston; Chopin; Chaminade; Copland; Colantti; Dvorak; Franck; Grieg; Hartley; Haydn; Hindemith; Hummel; Ibert; Korngold; Loeffler; Mozart; Mendelssohn; Neruda; Piazzolla; Puccini; Rossini; Rachmaninoff; Ravel; Saint-Saens; Schubert; Schumann; Shostakovich; R. Strauss; Telemann; Vaughn-Williams; Wieniawski; Verdi; Von Weber; H. Wolf;

for the following instruments:

  • soprano; mezzo; tenor; baritone; bass;
  • violin;
  • viola;
  • cello;
  • bass;
  • clarinet;
  • oboe;
  • bassoon;
  • flute;
  • trumpet;
  • trombone;
  • Euphonium;
  • French horn;
  • natural horn;
  • tuba
  • marimba;
  • alto and tenor saxophone;

Orchestral Piano:

1989 – 2000   – Erie Philharmonic Orchestra, Maestros Eiji Oue and Peter Bay; composers: Copland; Korngold, et al   (film scores)



1986 – 2013   — section cello, Erie Philharmonic Orchestra, Erie PA, under maestros: Walter Hendl; Eiji Oue; Peter Bay; Hugh Keelan; Daniel Meyer; Jeff Tyzik; various additional guest batons;

1986 – 2011 — section cello/Principal cello/harpsichord, Erie Chamber Orchestra, Maestro Bruce Morton Wright;

2011 – 2018 — Principal cello, Erie Chamber Orchestra, maestros Matthew Kraemer and Bradley Thachuk, musical directors, and various baton candidates;

1999 – present:  Principal cello, Bemus Bay Pops Orchestra/Chautauqua Pops Orchestra, Bruce Morton Wright and John Marcellus, musical directors; Chautauqua Pops Strings, Lenny Solomon, musical director;

Artist Pick up hires:

  • circa 1987 – Johnny Mathis, Erie Warner Theatre;
  • circa 1992 – Anne Murray, “
  • 2008 – Clay Aiken, Erie Civic Center;
  • 2015 – MANNHEIM STEAMROLLER, Red Tour, Erie Warner Theatre;

Other Work History:

1986 – 2011 —  Public school music teacher, K – 12, School District of the City of Erie, PA  –  general/vocal and instrumental, including: marching band, choir, chorus, string ensemble, string orchestra, music appreciation, and special classes for the hearing impaired

1989 – present — Private studio teacher, Suzuki-registered cello (Books 1 – 4) and violin (Books 1 – 3).

Chamber Music:

To be continued…………..

Scholarships and Awards:

1975 – Card-Catlin Art Award, Erie PA – portfolio adjudicated;

1981 – Gaeliewicz String Award, SUNY@Fredonia; Hillman Scholarship, SUNY@Fredonia;

1984 – S.A.D.I.E Award for Drama In Erie :  Best Orchestra, “Ain’t Misbehavin”, Leo Estes/John Burton, directors; starring Wydetta Carter, John Burton, Michael Henderson, Tootie Howard, Marlene Spells…..

© 7/22/19  Ruth Ann Scanzillo. I certify that the above information is true and accurate, to the best of my memory. John Burton may not have been a director of Ain’t Misbehavin’, but I believe that I am correct on all other points.  Thank you.













The Capriol Suite.

Strains of Warlock, piped across the live night air; amplified, then compressed: a posted video, momentarily searing the thymus. A fresh brushburn.
Before that which honors principle, do most choose that which serves them?
Remembrance of the glory days, decades past, under the town’s most celebrated maestro’s baton, integral to these. The house, always full; the town, equally filled, with its talk. Performance, live, virtually every weekend. Inside; outside; running out, further, by bus. To most ears and eyes, everybody fully involved, equally satisfied.
Except not.
One handful, older musicians, heretofore secure, contracts unceremoniously revoked, scheduled to drop out of sight from month to next.
These, positioned, in the back desks of string sections, barely noticed by the teeming and energized, that complement rallied close to the stick to be among those increasingly closer.
The lesser talk, of discontent, unnoticed; no warning, no choice; mutterings, whisperings of master contract terms, incongruent with the surrounding ebullience. Such exchanges not self sustaining, lacking gravitas, generating remote, averting eyes, fading like irrelevance…
Now, among these, to float, beyond the stage
to dance
the Capriol Suite.
© 7/16/19  Ruth Ann Scanzillo. All rights those of the author, who played the Capriol Suite, and all the other Suites, under all the batons. Please; don’t steal “fading like irrelevance.” Okay? Thanks.