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Our Town: South Shore resident masters words, sound

Dan Thrift / Tahoe Daily TribuneSuzanne Stone is a teacher and writer who also plays the cello.
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Teacher, writer or musician – which should she be? How about all three?

Suzanne Stone learned to read music before she learned to read words. She started playing the piano at age 4 and continued while growing up in Santa Monica, Calif., where she was born.

However, she put the piano aside when she went to college and began writing. Later, someone gave her a cello, and she started taking lessons. Her best cello teacher was a member of the San Francisco Symphony.



After graduating from the University of Redlands in Redlands, Calif., with a bachelor’s degree in English and receiving a master’s degree in English from the University of California, Los Angeles, Stone started her career in teaching and journalism.

She and her son ran Camp Shelley across from Baldwin Beach for the city of Livermore, Calif., for several summers. At the end of the summer session in 1984, she decided she didn’t want to go back to the city and has been a resident of South Lake Tahoe ever since.



Stone has taught at Lake Tahoe Community College and also has worked for area newspapers and magazines. She and Jim Hull have been married for more than 20 years.

In 1988, Stone started Sierra Strings, a group that plays mainly for weddings and private parties. Because she wanted to play a variety of musical styles, she started the Dream Spirit Baroque Band in 2000. The band provides music for private functions and contributes to the community by playing at fundraisers and community events.

The group has a new CD titled “Swallowtail Butterfly: Folk Chamber Music,” which is available at Artifacts in the Village Center and online at http://www.cdbaby.com. A few years ago, Stone published a book, “Lake Tahoe: The Guidebook with a Point of View,” which also is available at Artifacts.

When she isn’t writing or playing in her musical ensembles, Stone enjoys spending time with her family – son Bryan Long, daughter Leslie Long, three grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. She also likes to cross-country ski, hike and garden, and she is a charter member of the Lake Tahoe Branch of the National League of American Pen Women.

Here is how she answered the Tribune’s questions:

“The ability to touch the hearts of my listeners with my music.”

“Aside from the war in Iraq and the chaotic state of heath care, I feel that our economy is our most pressing issue. Businesses are closing and opportunities are shrinking for people to make a decent living. For example, locally we just had Neighbors Bookstore close, which is a hardship for people in the arts, because Neighbors was sponsoring local writers and musicians.”

“I’m currently reading ‘Blue Highways: A Journey Into America’ by William Least Heat Moon. It is entertaining and also enlightening, because the blue highways are the back roads on a map. The author made a complete circle of the United States on back roads and focused on the people he met on the by ways – especially in forgotten places.”

“This is an important question for me. I enjoy many styles of music, such as classic, Celtic, pop, Middle Eastern, baroque and renaissance. One of the reasons I started Dream Spirit Baroque Band was because I wanted to play in a variety of styles, and our CD has all those styles. My favorite song on the CD is ‘The Girl Who Broke My Heart,’ a traditional English song from the 1700s. We play it in a more modern style with our own arrangement. We make all our own arrangements because of our unique instrumentation with violin, cello, hammer dulcimer, recorder and guitar.”

“I am in another profession. Music is my third profession.”

“I most admire Yo Yo Ma. Not only is he is a wonderful cellist, but he has popularized the cello and explained new ways it can be played. He has made himself a bridge between Eastern and Western culture and music.”

“I would say Carl Jung, because he looked into the depths of the human psyche and found the human spirit. He began the movement to unite the studies in science, art and psychology.”

“I would take my cello, because music stimulates the spirit. It’s a solace and a source of happiness.”

“Through all the experiences, both good and bad in my life, I have achieved some small insight into happiness, and through my music and my writing, I’ve shared this with others.”


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