How many of you ham radio operators are also classical musicians? (I’m using “classical” loosely here, the way NPR does — not merely referring to the classical period per se, but broadly referring to all music of higher artistic expression.) I’ve always been intrigued by this kind of simultaneous development of artistic ability and scientific/technical ability. I’ve long heard that the two complement one another nicely, e.g. I’ve heard that musicians make better programmers.

Rehearsal of Exultate Festival Choir and Orchestra (Kristi Brackett, Photographer)

Right now I’m working hard with the Exultate Festival Choir and Orchestra to get ready for an upcoming performance of The Messiah by George Frideric Handel. Ham Radio has taken a back seat in my life during this seven-week project (as well it should, if we have our priorities straight). Yesterday’s rehearsal in the Twin Cities was exhilarating, and once again proved that the 2 1/2 hour drive to get there is definitely worth it. Dr. Tom Rossin is an outstanding conductor, and the choir is so good I have to pinch myself sometimes to see if my place there in the bass section isn’t just a dream. (If any of you happen to be in the Twin Cities on the weekend of March 9-11 and would like to hear The Messiah in its entirety, send me an email and I’ll email you a coupon that will get you two tickets for the price of one.)

Music was part of my life as a boy before I became a ham, but it didn’t blossom until 13 years ago at the age of 31. That was when my brother Tom (NØBSY) got me involved in a cappella shape-note singing from The Sacred Harp. This taught me how to sing parts; without it I could never have gotten into choral singing the way I have. My first choral work was with Exultate, singing Bach’s Mass in B-Minor, followed by Brahms’ German Requiem (in Rutter’s English translation). Since then I’ve been involved in a small choir here in the church, too. All of this has been a huge surprise to me. Up until I was 31 years old I was afraid to sing in front of other people, and I couldn’t sing parts if my life depended on it! So if any of you think you can’t sing, think twice — you might be surprised at what has been lying dormant in those vocal chords of yours, just waiting for the proper nudge to burst forth into beautiful song.

I see Tyler Pattison, N7TFP, is not only an accomplished ham radio operator but an accomplished musician. Along with his excellent tutorials for ham radio operators, Tyler has also posted a video of his performance of Charles-Marie Widor’s Toccata in F from Symphony No. 5. In this video you can see the organ from Tyler’s perspective, not only as a musician but as an electrical engineer. He is bringing both sides of his brain to bear upon the magnificent task of rebuilding and upgrading this organ — and then making beautiful music on it.

How many others like Tyler and myself are out there? If you are a musician and an amateur radio operator, what do you think? Has one influenced the other in your life? How?



Filed under Uncategorized


  1. Mark N5OT is a professional singer (Glibert & Sullivan) and also musical director for a large church in Oklahoma. Mark is quite an accomplished contester and and CW op as well.

    Bill AA7XT

  2. W4WUQ, Dalton plays the Euphonium in the Tennessee Valley Winds, A community wind band in Murfreesboro, TN. We do play classical music.

  3. Hurray! Thanks for pointing out what so many of us realized many years ago. Although I’ve never been a professional musician, I have enjoyed classical music my entire life, starting sometime around age 4 when my parents listened to the CBS Symphony on Sunday afternoons (circa 1940). All of my piano lessons at that age were classical compositions. Later, I studied other instruments, including the trombone and baritone. As a teen, I was part of a jazz band. To this day I listen to classical music on FM radio (KDFC, San Francisco) and attend local professional concerts in our town of just 15,000. The only other music I enjoy is CW – which is a “classical experience” for me. Thanks for your wonderful article!

  4. Stewart

    David N6AN is a musician – french horn I believe, and at a very high level. Personally I gave up the violin a long time ago. I think it’s the most diffiult instrument to play. And 2nd fiddle parts are really boring! I do believe there’s a correlation between musical appreciation and the ability to send and receive CW.

  5. Will, AE6YB

    Very interesting article. Although I don’t think one has influenced the other, I do play Classical Spanish Guitar, (just for fun, not professionally). Good luck on your project.

  6. I started playing piano at the age of 6. Favorite composers: Bach, Chopin, Bartok. I switched to more modern styles later in life, but still enjoy playing a classical piece. Picked up the bass guitar, too, at the age of 30.

    Hans / PD0AC

  7. Todd Mitchell

    Thanks for the comments, fellows. Hearing of other hams who are also musicians, I’m reminded of a scene in Cornbread Road in which the local radio club’s very own band made music at a club event. (Though it was far from classical music . . .) Imagine the possibilities at Dayton!

    Just a couple more days to go till dress rehearsal, and then a three-day weekend full of performances.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s