From Medicine to Music:  Foreman enjoying new hobby

Release Date: April 2, 2009    

PLAINVIEW – Steady hands carefully remove the cello from its protective case. Manufactured in Russia in 1850, the instrument is beginning to show its age, having darkened over time and displaying a scuff or scratch here and there. But the sound is still pure and the feel is that of a precision instrument. And even though it once performed for the Russian Czars, this instrument has never had a more captive audience than the two people who would listen to it on an unassuming Tuesday afternoon. 

At 3 p.m. on Tuesday afternoons, Dr. L.S. Foreman, of Tulia, can be found sitting quietly in the halls at Wayland Baptist University’s School of Music, waiting for Dr. Ann Stutes, the dean of the school, to complete her class so she can give him his private cello lesson. Foreman, who practiced medicine in Tulia for 40 years, has reconnected with his love of music and the arts since retiring a few years ago.

A general practitioner, Foreman graduated from Baylor in 1950, then went on to Baylor Medical School. After completing his studies, Foreman spent two years as a doctor with the Air Force graciously fighting the self-described “Battle of South Dakota.” It was a battle that found him stationed in Sioux Falls.

“There was no base there, no nothing. Just an office down town,” he said. “A lot of times I was through by noon, and I would go home. I felt like I had a two-year vacation.”

Following his time in the Air Force, Foreman and his wife, Barbara, moved to her hometown of Tulia where he began a medical practice that lasted four decades. Now 79 and retired, he smiles as he tells the story of his musical journey with the cello that began many years ago. He grew up listening to music and always thought the cello was a beautiful instrument. He expressed his love of the cello for many years. Finally, after hearing him talk about it for so long, Barbara rented a cello as a Christmas gift more than 25 years ago.

“She put a ribbon on it and put it under the Christmas tree and basically said, ‘Put up or shut up!’” Foreman said.

He began taking lessons from a member of the string quartet in Amarillo, but finding the time to practice amid his normal working hours was difficult. Still, he managed to plod through the lessons until the cellist moved away.

“He was good,” Foreman said. “He stayed about a year and then he left. That put a stop to the lessons. I waited about a year until they got another one, then I started again.”

Foreman went through three cellists, all of whom followed a similar pattern.

“It kind of dawned on me that maybe I was running them off,” he chuckled.

During this time, one of the instructors, whose father owned a music store in Philadelphia, decided to help Foreman find an instrument of his own. He contacted his father, who sent them the cello that Foreman currently owns. As the story goes, this instrument once belonged to a man who played in a string ensemble for the Czars. Following the Russian Revolution in 1917, he immigrated to the United States and eventually ended up trading the cello for a car. The car dealer had a sister who played the cello, and it remained in her possession until she dealt it to the music dealer who eventually sent it to Foreman.

While he was proud to have the cello, concentrating on music just wasn’t meant to be for the doctor. Once his third instructor left, Foreman set aside his cello and focused on taking care of his family. About that time, one of his four daughters, Carolyn, contracted breast cancer. Foreman focused on caring for her, his family and his medical practice. But the love of music was every present. It was a love he shared with his family as his daughters grew. He remained interested in the cello, but he didn’t restart his lessons until meeting Dr. Stutes about a year ago.

Foreman, whose children had studied music with Dr. Sam Brown, an adjunct professor at Wayland, attended a special function at Brown’s church. Now a member of Wayland’s Board of Trustees, Foreman was introduced to Stutes, who offered to continue his cello lessons.

“I basically had to start over from scratch,” Foreman chuckled. “She has been very patient with me.”

Stutes, however, said students like Foreman are a joy to work with.

“He practices religiously, and he also thinks about the music he is performing, and he comes to lessons every week with questions prepared about the music. That makes him, in my mind, a music scholar, and that is very exciting,” she said. “He is somebody who is doing it for the love of it and who is learning, but also enjoying actually creating the sounds and sharing them with other people.”

Foreman said the cello and music keep him busy. He practices for an hour at least twice a day, sometimes more. Between music, lifting weights three days a week, walking for 45 minutes a day and teaching his Sunday School class at Tulia’s First Baptist Church, Foreman said he has managed to fill his retirement with meaningful activities.

Not only is he taking private lessons, but he is also sharing what he has learned with others. Foreman played several events last Christmas with the Wayland String Ensemble, and he will perform with the group again in a joint concert with Dr. Stutes’ string methods class on April 23.

He admittedly has no designs on making public performances a priority, but Foreman does share his music with those he loves. And now, he hopes to help spread that joy to other deserving music students as he and his family recently dedicated an endowed music scholarship at Wayland in honor of his daughter who died from breast cancer in 1991. The Carolyn Foreman Albano scholarship has been designated to aid music students with academic merit and financial need.

 “We know he shared the love of music with his girls when they were growing up,” Stutes said. “They continue to have family music soirees where the girls break out their instruments. The joy of music just streams through his family. For those of us who have dedicated our lives to music education, that is what we hope everyone has the opportunity to experience at some point. That is why we teach music.”