Mitzie Collins might be excused for resting on her laurels.
For her contributions Rochester's musical life, she earned the 2007 Artist Award from the Arts and Cultural Council of Greater Rochester, and she was honored as 2014 Musician of the Year by the Rochester Alumnae of the Mu Phi Epsilon Music Fraternity.
Hammered dulcimer expert. Shape-note singer. Organist. Recording artist. For decades Mitzie has performed, taught, and delighted audiences in a wide range of musical styles.
In some ways, she says, she's enjoying the fruits of her labor.
Many, many years ago (like 47 years ago) I was one of the Founding Mothers and Parents of the Golden Link Folk Singing Society. Now I make a point of getting to many of those Tuesday night sing-arounds. The Founding Parents didn't run it for the last 47 years, so we have somthing that's viable that other people take part in, and I'm really proud of that. Now I want to take advantage of the music-making that's in Rochester. Occasionally I'll come in and somebody will say, "Now WHO are you?" (laughs) and I think, well, that's okay.
Her current projects include founding and teaching a children's hammered dulcimer class.
The hammered dulcimer -- and its family of trapezoid-shaped instruments that you whack at -- is found all over the world. Every two years, some place on the planet, we (hammered dulcimer enthusiasts) have a meeting. So I've gone to most or all of the meetings since 2005. And at these meetings there's always groups of kids playing. Kids, fifth, sixth, seventh grade and young teenagers playing. They're having a ball! They're having a wonderful time! And sometimes they're really loud and fast and, you know, what could be more fun than loud and fast? So I just thought, American kids could do that. We just don't really have the culture for them to learn. So I'm learning how to teach them.