Art of Aging: Family continues the Klezmer tradition

Tamala Edwards Image
Thursday, February 26, 2015
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You may not be familiar with the name Klezmer, but if you've ever been to a traditional Jewish wedding, you will likely recognize the sound.

You may not be familiar with the name Klezmer, but if you've ever been to a traditional Jewish wedding, you will likely recognize the sound.

For nearly all of her 82 years, Elaine Hoffman-Watts, a percussionist, has been playing Klezmer, the traditional eastern European Jewish music.

"I was taught by my father as a very little girl and he taught me a beat that he brought over from Russia," said Elaine.

Elaine's father was a percussionist for the Boston Pops.

It is a family legacy that goes back several generations and Elaine has kept it going with her daughter as well.

Susan Lankin-Watts said, "Most of what we do comes from my great-grandfather. We call it the Hoffman family repertoire. It's important work to be doing to be an ambassador for our lineage and our heritage."

Elaine was the first female percussionist to attend Philadelphia's prestigious Curtis Institute of Music.

She enjoyed a career as a timpanist and classical drummer.

She was awarded a Pew Grant and a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts.

Elaine says, "I can't do anything else. I can't do math. I can't cook. I just enjoy it, a great time playing."

Her daughter Susan said, "She's very inspiring in that, as long as you are alive, you live"

Seniors are passing on their heritage to the younger generations in many ways.

For other senior programs and traditions, visit the Art of Aging section.