93-year-old New Jersey man sharing musical talents with community

Tamala Edwards Image
Thursday, January 5, 2023
93-year-old New Jersey man sharing musical talents with community
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93-year-old Jerry Sperling in New Jersey has been sharing his musical talents with his community for the last 20 years.

MONROE TOWNSHIP, New Jersey (WPVI) -- Every Thursday, Jerry Sperling gives lessons for playing the mandolin, helping to mentor the group he started in 2003.

The group was originally called the Clearbrook Mandolin Ensemble, but are now known as the Clearbrook Silver Strings. Sperling serves as the leader and artistic director of the group.

"My music is very, very important to me," he says.

Sperling was a career electrician, but his spark for music started at a young age. He says his mother played the mandolin and so he "picked it up and started to play" when he was about 10 years old.

Sperling says he always played instruments by ear, until he took college courses for music later in life.

"I couldn't read music until I was 50 years old," he says. "I had melodies in my mind."

Once he knew the notes, he was able to put those melodies down on paper and began writing music. He is now a composer and lyricist, and his music has been played in concert halls thanks to a famous clarinetist.

"His name is Giora Feidman. And he took my music, and he played it, and people heard it, and they liked it," he says.

Sperling also combines his creativity with his passion for music to create art. He calls the pieces he builds "musical sculptures."

"They're basically pieces of art that you can walk over and pluck the strings," he says.

He builds the metal sculptures at home in his workshop and gives them humorous names, like Attila the Hun's Fearsome E-Flat Major Battle Harp.

"You can picture Attila the Hun going into battle with this," he jokes.

Although Sperling was born in 1929, seven days before the crash, he says he's been fortunate in life.

"I married the right woman," he says.

Sperling and his wife of 65 years, Martha, share "three wonderful children" and "seven wonderful grandchildren."

"I just feel good," he says.