Our Radio Show and blog features the life and work of Gerald “Jerry” Plassman, mathematician, computer scientist, engineer, modeler, and musician. Many of the world’s scientists, mathematician, engineers, computer scientists, medical doctors, writers, and teachers have studied and played musical instruments since they were children. These eminent individuals have integrated music into their thinking process. Included is an article on the power of classical music for education and healing. Our article of the month is “3 ½ Ways to Confidently Handle Adversity” by Madeline Frank, Ph.D.
Radio Show Feature Question for December 2020: How does Classical music play a part of Gerald “Jerry” Plassman’s life as a mathematician, computer scientist, engineer, and musician and what musical instruments does he play?”
Gerald “Jerry” Plassman is a mathematician, computer scientist, engineer, modeler, and musician. He is passionate about developing and applying his God given talents in the service of both world and local communities, his family and other individuals he may help through science, the arts as well as economic and spiritual support.
Dr. Madeline Frank: “Jerry, where were you born, what were your parents’ names, and where were you raised?
Gerald “Jerry” Plassman: “I was born in Napoleon Ohio Dec. 16th, 1946. My parents were Eldor George and Marie Anna (nee Loudon) Plassman. I was raised in Napoleon, Deshler and Ashland; small towns in Northwest Ohio.”
Madeline: “Did your parents play musical instruments?
Jerry: “My Mother played piano during high school. My Father played accordion in Polka bands and sang Tenor in the church choir.”
Madeline: “Did your siblings play musical instruments and did you play chamber music with your parents or siblings?
Jerry: “I have two sisters, Kay, 16 months younger and Joyce, 16 months older. They both played clarinet through high school. Joyce and I played duets at home, and we both sang in school and church choirs, the latter with my Father.”
Madeline: “What was your favorite subject in elementary, middle school, and high school?
Jerry: “My favorite subjects in elementary (grades 1-6), junior high (grades 7-9), and senior high school (10-12) were Science, Mathematics and Music.”
Madeline: “When did you begin studying the trumpet?”
Jerry: “I began studying the trumpet in the fourth grade. My sister Joyce started Clarinet that same year. Our parents wanted to give us a musical education. They first considered having us take piano lessons, but then selected the school band to increase our social interaction. I actually began singing about a year earlier in the church and school settings.”
Madeline: “Did you play in band in elementary, middle, and high school?”
Jerry: “I played from the fourth grade through the eleventh grade; I dropped out my senior year to concentrate on academics since the Ashland High School was much more advanced than that of Deshler.”
Madeline: “Did you do well in math and science in elementary, middle school, and high school?”
Jerry: “Generally speaking, yes. My grades at Deshler suffered because of a lack of study, but I did well in placement tests. My grades came up at Ashland, enabling me to receive a full tuition scholarship to college.”
Madeline: “Were there any teachers that inspired you in elementary, middle school, or high school?”
Jerry: “Mr. Tony Roberts inspired me on trumpet when he would occasionally highlight our concert with a beautiful ballad or jazz tune. Mr. King, my first teacher and elementary school band director encouraged me early on when I wanted to quit because I could not play a particular phrase in one breath as he asked by telling me, through my Mother, that I was his best student. My most inspiring academic teacher was Major John Tilton, a former World War Two B17 bomber pilot, who inspired me regarding life principles, duties and motivations; the subject he taught was called “American Problems”, a course formally addressing Civics, but in actuality much more.”
Madeline: “Did you play sports after school and later run for exercise?”
Jerry: “I did play Little League baseball, and later became dedicated to fitness and running – becoming a life-long activity; and incidentally, helping musicality through stamina and breath control.”
Madeline: “In middle school and high school were you a member of any clubs?”
Jerry: “My passion growing up was designing, building, and flying model airplanes; another interest, along with music and math that has remained active throughout my life. In the seventh grade, I founded a model airplane club and mentored other kids in that hobby.”
Madeline: “Did you receive any honors or awards in elementary school, middle school, high school?”
Jerry: “I placed high in a regional math competition in the eighth grade and received honors in regional solo and ensemble competitions.”
Madeline: “Did you tutor other students on building and flying model airplanes?”
Jerry: “I tutored other kids in building and flying model airplanes. As a 7-9-year-old, I was able to build more models than I could afford by building models my neighborhood friends bought and then presenting to them.”
Madeline: “What jobs did you have while in high school and during the summers?
Jerry: “For income, I had a paper routes, mowed and raked neighbors’ yards, and seasonally de-tasseled corn for Dekalb, a hybrid seed corn developer”.
Madeline: “Who is your favorite musical composer?”
Jerry: “While it is hard to pick just one; Debussy, Mozart, Beethoven, Mendelssohn, Brahms, Bach, Handel, Holst, Morricone, Williams, Anderson, Vivaldi, Chopin, Hovhaness and any of the composers for Renaissance trumpet come to mind.”
Madeline: “How did studying the trumpet help you in school?”
Jerry: “Studying trumpet helped in many ways; not only including the development of discipline, cooperation, teamwork, motivation, concentration, and self-esteem, but also providing stimulation for both intellectual achievement and appreciation of the arts.”
Madeline: “Where did you go to University and graduate school and what was your major and minor?”
Jerry: “I received a B.S. in Mathematics with a minor in Physics in 1969 from Capital University in Bexley, Ohio. I received an M.S. in Applied Mathematics in 1972 from Michigan State University in East Lansing, Michigan. More recently, I have also earned about 60 semester hours of graduate credits in Computational Mathematics, Computer Science and Engineering from Old Dominion University.”
Madeline: “Did you continue playing your trumpet in university and graduate school?”
Jerry: “I stopped playing the trumpet in the twelfth grade and did not return to playing until 1986 – a 23-year hiatus! However, during that entire time period, and through to the present – I began and continue to sing as a First Tenor. I sang in church and college choirs, in the Navy, and more recently in the Virginia Choral Society. Returning to the trumpet has been my great joy; and I think being a vocalist helps in the reading and phrasing of trumpet parts and solos.”
Madeline: “What jobs did you have while attending university and grad school?”
Jerry: “I worked undergraduate summers for the city of Ashland street department, Ohio Department of Transportation as an engineering apprentice. Graduate studies were in part financed by the GI bill as a veteran, and in part by my former wife, Joyce; “By the Sweat of My Frau”, according to an old German saying, and something for which I am grateful.”
Madeline: What jobs did you have in the Navy and graduate school and what kind of problems did you solve?
Jerry: “My professional life began as a computer programmer in the Navy. Then after graduate school, I have worked in various capacities as a computer software and research engineer, initially in support of the US Department of Defense and then primarily as a contractor for NASA Langley Research Center. My last 14 years were with the National Institute of Aerospace in support of Aeroacoustics research.”
Madeline: “How did playing the trumpet help you in your work?”
Jerry: “Success in research depends on vision, creativity, diligence, an embracing of challenge, and collaboration with colleagues. These attributes are also required by and developed through playing an instrument. Hearing of the significant documented correlation between music and mathematics, I surveyed my colleagues at Computer Science Corporation in the 1990’s and found that about 40% of those 55 individuals were also practicing musicians.”
Madeline: “Do your children play a musical instrument?
Jerry: “Both of my sons played an instrument in middle school; Joel played viola and Jeff played clarinet. Jeff later became passionate about guitar, resulting in acceptance to Virginia Commonwealth University as a music major in Classical and Jazz guitar performance. Eventually Jeff switched to software engineering, but retains a love for music, particularly Jazz.”
Madeline: “How many years did you play in the Christopher Newport Orchestra, the Peninsula Concert Band, and in the York River Symphony Orchestra?”
Jerry: “I played with the CNU orchestra for about 6 years during the early development of the music program; first under you Dr. Frank, and later under Leslie Stewart and Ann Argodale. I have been playing with the Peninsula Concert Band continuously for 32 years and have been playing with the York River Symphony Orchestra for 5 years. Now that I am retired, I have more time to enjoy music, including playing the trumpet. My goal is to get in 3 hours of practice a day, in addition to rehearsals. In addition to playing with the PCB and YRSO, I also have been performing solos and liturgical accompaniment each Sunday at church; and with a brass quartet on special occasions. In the past 4 years I twice played Holts’ “The Planets” with folks at NASA with a live link to a professional orchestra lead world concert from Sydney Australia – had to get up at 3am!”
Madeline: “Thank you Gerald “Jerry” Plassman for sharing your important work as a mathematician, computer scientist, engineer, modeler, and musician.
3 ½ Ways to Confidently Handle Adversity by Madeline Frank, Ph.D.
Adversity Makes You Stronger. The obstacles you face will determine your future, will reveal your character, and define you.
2020 has demanded more out of most of us than we thought possible. Regardless of your unique circumstances; everyone was required to sharpen their creativity, flexibility, and patience skills.
We do not grow and improve with the easy times, but with the difficult times. Throughout history, men and women have persevered through adversity to reach success. Now is the time for you to use your adversity, your obstacles, your stumbling blocks as stepping stones to reach your success, (no matter how you define success)! It is only through our struggles that we grow, learn, and improve.
- Resilient people understand the value of thinking calmly and clearly, and asking themselves revealing questions. For example, “What valuable insights did this adversity teach me?” or “What did I learn from my mistakes?” will get you farther than saying, “Now would be a great time to freak out.”
One exercise that top leaders employ is that they don’t let challenges live in their head. They write down the details of the situation. Once a challenge has been committed to paper, it is a lot easier to separate the facts from the hysteria. This provides a solid foundation for the solutions you seek.
Accept responsibility for what happened and face every challenge head on. View the challenge, the adversity, as an opportunity to move forward to find a good solution.
“Successful people do not give up when faced with adversity, instead they have the resilience, strength of character, courage to find a way or make one.” Fred Stuvek
- Admit your mistakes quickly and learn from them.
One common trait of every successful person I’ve ever studied is that they accept responsibility for their actions. Don’t try to weasel your way out of situations. I fully understand that 2020 has presented a unique situation that you probably had no control over; but you can control how you are setting yourself up for the future.
Steve Jobs said, “Sometimes when you innovate, you make mistakes. It’s best to admit them quickly and get on with improving your other innovations.”
Mark Cuban, entrepreneur said, “With every effort, I learned a lot. With every mistake and failure, not only mine, but of those around me, I learned what not to do.”
Maya Angelou said, “We may encounter many defeats, but we must not be defeated. It may even be necessary to encounter the defeat, so that we can know who we are. So that we can see, oh, that happened, and I rose. I did get knocked down flat in front of the whole world, and I rose. I didn’t run away — I rose right where I’d been knocked down. And then that’s how you get to know yourself.”
- Find humor in the situation.
“Don’t get furious; get humorously curious. Look at every challenge through the lens of curiosity.” Mike Maddock, Forbes
Paul Landraitis loves to exclaim, “Fascinating!” whenever a particularly troubling or unexpected situation arises. What’s inspiring to me is that he does so with a laugh, choosing to look at every challenge through the lens of curiosity and humor.”
Ask your friends to tell you “a few things that are ridiculously funny about this particular problem” you are facing! Listen to their answer, for truths and solutions that “you may not have considered.”
Nina Zipkin, staff writer for Entrepreneur.com wrote, “Space X’s blooper reel chronicling all of its mistakes along the way-highlighting instances of failed engine sensors, running out of hydraulic fluid, a collapsed landing leg, a radar glitch — to making aerospace history. several self-deprecating jokes (“look, that’s not an ‘explosion,’ it’s an unscheduled disassembly”) accompany footage of smoking wrecks and explosions in the sky. The score — the jaunty choice of John Philip Sousa’s The Liberty Bell, which keen-eared comedy fans will recognize as the Monty Python theme song — is a nice touch.”
What can humor do for you during a difficult time?
Humor clears your head, releases tension, stress and allows you to refocus on the problem.
What do you want most for the outcome to be?
Is there another solution that would also work?
What roadblocks stand in your way?
Do you know of someone who has faced similar obstacles?
3 ½. Take a vacation from your problem.
William Carrier “was working on the problem of regulating humidity for a printing company and decided to give up for a while and take a vacation. While waiting on a foggy railroad platform in Pittsburg, he gazed at the mist surrounding the station and tracks, wondering how late his train was going to be.” The answer to his problem came out of the fog.
” His idea was to blow air through a fine mist that would act like a condenser, drying out the air. Since air’s moisture content varies with temperature- cold air is drier than warm-changing the temperature of the mist would also alter the humidity.” (Michael Michalko’s book “Thinkertoys“) Carrier’s invention was the air-conditioner, that combined “refrigeration and electricity”.
(Do something else, let your problem go for a while, and clear your mind. This way you will be fresh to think about it!)
Rebecca Walser summed it up best this way:”It is in the struggle that we become strong enough to handle what comes our way. It is in the struggle that we will find and fulfill our destiny. It is in the struggle that we become our most refined, strongest, best version of ourselves.” (Rebecca Walser, Wealth Unbroken)
Adversity will come knocking at your door… repeatedly. Instead of hiding from it or chasing it away, consider viewing it as an invitation, an opportunity for you to grow from the challenge. © 2020 Madeline Frank
If you need a virtual speaker contact Madeline at: [email protected]
“The Benefits of Music: How the Science of Music Can Help You” by Vanessa Van Edwards “Listening to music has been shown to improve memory functioning, increase rate of healing, improve your workouts and more.”
The Secret of Teaching Science & Math Through Music” by Madeline Frank, Ph.D. is available in book form, and newly updated as an e-book on Kindle, Nook, or iBook:
“Musical Notes On Math” by Dr. Madeline Frank teaches your child fractions and decimals, the fun easy way, through the rhythm of music, Winner of the Parent To Parent Adding Wisdom Award is available in book form, newly updated as an e-book on Kindle, Nook, or iBook.:
Madeline’s Midnight Melodies- Music From around the World”. This CD complements her books with a blend of dance music, gigues, tangos, ballet and favorites including “Danny Boy”, Puccini’s “O Mio Babbino Caro”, Debussy’s “Claire De Lune” and others. “Madeline’s Midnight Melodies” is music to relax by and to move by for music therapy. “Madeline’s Midnight Melodies” CD is now available for purchase by downloading a song, downloading the album, or by CD by clicking below:
Dr. Madeline Frank’s book “Leadership on a Shoestring Budget” is available through amazon. To order your copy of “Leadership On A Shoestring Budget” as an e-book on Kindle click on the following link:
Wishing you and your family a happy Chanukah and a Merry Christmas from Your Non-Invasive Medicine Music Expert, Madeline
For over 30 years, Dr. Madeline Frank has helped children and adults overcome problems through Classical music. Madeline Frank, Ph.D., DTM is an award-winning teacher, author, researcher, speaker, conductor, and concert artist. She discovered a scientific link between studying a musical instruments and academic and societal success. Madeline Frank earned her Bachelor and Master’s degree from the Juilliard School of Music. Her education has included scholarships at the Juilliard School, Indiana University, and the University of Cincinnati and she has a violin performance diploma from the North Carolina School of the Arts. (C) 2020 Madeline Frank.