Tributes to Mr. DeLuke
Lorrie Bass Karam
The great thing about Pete DeLuke was that when he came
to Hastings he was an active musician. What he was teaching us was not
“theory.” My class was with Pete from day one, when he arrived
in the band room to replace Howard Marsh, who had taken a college teaching
position. Pete was the real McCoy. He had played jazz gigs, classical
gigs, shows, a stint with the Benny Goodman Band. He knew what he was
doing from the experience he had gotten as a working musician. He could
improvise and play a great jazz solo (on alto, tenor, baritone, clarinet,
flute, even oboe!) as well as be blown away by Percy Grainger's music.
He expressed his love for the music of Bird, Prez and Billie Holiday as
well as Al and Zoot and Lee Konitz. He knew the business, and we kids
benefitted from his experience in ways that went beyond words. We were
lucky. Thanks Pete.
I recently took sax lessons in Briarcliff NY and mentioned
to my teacher that I learned to play with Pete DeLuke. The sax teacher
called in a nearby piano teacher and they inquired, "Oh, so you were
part of that scene in Hastings with Pete?"........As far as I knew,
I just read the music and did what Pete told me to do......... But now,
for fun, I play in a big band. So thanks Pete for giving me a lifetime
interest that is like nothing else in the world !!
I will always remember fondly my years in the Hastings High School music program and as your student. While I did not pursue a career in music, there is no doubt that your tutelage definitely laid the groundwork for my ultimate career choice...what has often been referred to as “frozen music”...a.k.a. Architecture. While the “music” I produce may be frozen, I’m sure the music that you and all the HHS alums will produce next Friday will be smokin’. Can’t wait, and thank you for your years of dedication.
Few teachers have the opportunity to truly know the impact they've had on their students. I'm thrilled that Pete DeLuke, who has influenced so many, is being given this chance to find out. I gratefully remember the caring, inciteful instruction of this master musician and dedicated teacher (I also remember babysitting for Bucky and Dean!).
My experience under Mr. DeLuke's tutelage did not end with graduation. Four years later I came back to Hastings as a college senior to fulfill my student teaching requirement in the music department of my alma mater. Pete DeLuke, as my cooperating teacher, continued to demonstrate his dedication, talent and wisdom as he helped shape the music teacher I was to become. Thirty-three years later, I'm still at it and often recall the valuable advice and guidance he gave me so many years ago.
Thank you, Mr. DeLuke, for what you have been to me and so many others during the "Camelot years" of music at HHS!
Susan Serafin Muller '75
Dear Mr. DeLuke,
I want to thank Pete DeLuke for being such an inspiration. Playing french horn in his band was a great experience. I remember him saying that the french horn was an especially challenging instrument with one of the most beautiful tones. So I decided to try it. Also listening to the jazz greats he brought to our school was amazing. I continued with piano at Hartt College of Music and later played keyboards in different groups. I’m now involved with the Brookhaven Festival Chorus in Long Island and sing tenor.
The great music program in Hastings personified by Mr. DeLuke is something I am proud to have been part of. And I’ve tried to always keep some form of music in my life. Thanks, Pete.
Sincerely, Karen Miller O’Keefe
Pete was a wonderful colleague and dedicated teacher. His primary interest was always to find ways to benefit the school and students.
Pete- Thanks to you, I began & ended every day of school breathing deeply and playing music in harmony with others....I still hear your enthusiastic prompting to "sing through your instruments"...lessons that have stayed with me not only as a musician but as wisdom for navigating life's various melodies.
Welcome Home, Pete!
Good luck and congratulations!
The genius of Pete DeLuke was in his ability to inspire his students. He's the reason that at least a dozen students like me became professional musicians. (A disproportionately large number, given the small size of the high school.) He also single-handedly brought world-class jazz musicians to come play for his students. Try to imagine what it was like for a young drummer to perform for the likes of Buddy Rich, Gene Krupa, & Mel Lewis.
I owe my career to Pete DeLuke. I want to say thank you to him, from the bottom of my heart.
Clint de Ganon
Pete DeLuke always fought hard to bring something of true value to the students and community of Hastings. He effectively used the lower grades as a "farm system"; bringing many 5th through 8th graders into the high school band as soon as we were ready. That is how I started and it was a tremendous benefit to me at the age of 11 and 12 to be able to play next to 17 and 18 year olds. Pete rehearsed a 60 piece band in a classroom designed to hold 30 students. In order to participate in all of the school musical groups we had to rehearse before school 5 days a week and after school 4 days a week. Music was considered an extra curricular activity and not given the same respect as the other subjects. But Pete never let that interfere with his mission to teach and encourage us. He was extremely dedicated both as a performer and as a teacher. He ignored the superficial and focused on what was real, true and fundamental.
Pete inspired us with his pure hearted love of music, but always dealt directly and efficiently with practical matters. He instilled in us a realistic picture of the life of a professional musician allowing no one to harbor any illusions in that regard. He showed us by his example the very high level of dedication and discipline necessary to be a great musician. I consider myself extraordinarily fortunate to have had such a mentor in my life.
I often tell people who ask how I became a musician about Hastings High School and Pete DeLuke. "He made it fun and cool to be in the band" I will say but of course it was deeper than that. Mr. Deluke gave me a profound respect for music, jazz and being a musician. Pete once told me no one becomes a musician if they can do anything else. It took me years to understand what he meant, but even before the pull of music became too great to resist he made me not want to do anything else.
My memories of playing in the Hastings High School Jazz Band in the early 70s include the benefit concerts with amazing professionals and the opportunity to grow. Mr. DeLuke not only encouraged an appreciation for jazz, but also for individual achievement and musicianship. Thanks for the foundation that gave me the confidence to talk my way into my university jazz band, to step outside of my comfort zone, and to excel!
My thoughts on Mr. Deluke: 'Pete Deluke has always been an inspiration to me - It's amazing how he influenced scores of his students to become accomplished musicians.'
A memorable and truthful quote from Pete Deluke: "To be a great musician, you've got to LIVE with your instrument" ...Wow, is that ever the truth...
Mr. DeLuke, you taught me flute in 4th grade and for years thereafter, including Middle and High School Band. I remember you were upset with me for choosing Hudsonettes over High School Band my junior year! Do you remember when my son and I ran into "Pete DeLuke and Friends" at the San Diego Zoo? What a thrill! My son still plays drums! Thank you for all you have done for US, your Hastings-on-Hudson Fan Club.
Eve Abrahams Shutt
I’d like to say to everyone I got to play with on Friday and all those who put this together for Pete, that I had one of the best times of my life. I can’t remember a time when I have been surrounded by such a talented group of people. It is something I will always remember and a memory I will always treasure.
Even though I’m no longer a full-time musician, the years I spent being one are without a doubt some of the best of my life. I have you to thank for that Pete. I’ve known for years that you had a profound effect on me and motivated me in ways too numerous to mention here. A very large part of what I am today is a direct result of the positive effect that you had on me. I have never met anyone in my life, (outside of my parents), who was, and still is, so willing to unselfishly give of himself. The excitement, energy, motivation and keen sense of people that you possess is testimony to your ability to effect people in ways that they themselves may not understand. Your outlook on life and “can do” attitude is contagious and affects everyone that you come in contact with.
Just look at you today. You’re eighty-something and aren’t showing any signs of slowing down. Your energy and outlook on life are the same today as they were when I was in rehearsals with you at Hastings High forty years ago.
I truly believe that one of the greatest things any human being can to do is to affect another’s life in a profound and positive way. I think it is one of the noblest things one human being can do for another. Pete, you have not only affected my life profoundly and positively, you have affected all the lives of those who came together for the show and countless others who have had the good fortune to have come in contact with you. There’s a light that shines from your soul that illuminates the lives of all others you come in contact with. Thank you for sharing some of that light with me.
I can't thank Pete enough for all he did to broaden my appreciation of music. Thanks to him, I enjoy listening to many genres of music. Playing in the Concert and Jazz Bands with all of the talented musicians was an experience I'll always treasure. And people still marvel at the now 80+ year old alto saxophone Pete found for me in 1966 which I still play. All because of one man and his dedication to music education.
Stan Madyda, Class of 1973, New Fairfield, CT
C'mon really, what high school kid gets to conduct Tchaikovsky's 6th with real players and a real audience? Pete DeLuke handed out fantastic musical experiences like candy, to so so many kids, that we didn't even know it was a rare valuable thing. Now I have kids and I know different. While I have no regrets, I do often wonder what would life be like if I had chased my musical dreams into the real world like many of my contemporaries. But I do know I am a stronger better person for having known Pete DeLuke. Thanks Pete.
Andy Howarth '77
I regret that I won't be present for the concert but I am pleased to have his opportunity to thank Pete DeLuke for the immense love of music that he was able to convey to so many of us. And I think -in retrospect- that we can also thank him for the joy, ease and humor that he brought to his work. (We must have been a funny and even fun lot to work with.)
In any case he richly deserves our attention and our gratitude.
Mr. DeLuke had a profound influence on my life during my time at
Hastings High School