ADELPHI — Arthur Carchedi, long-time band and orchestra teacher at Buck Lodge Middle School, died on April 1 but left behind a legacy of an eclectic music career and former students who remember him fondly.
Carchedi was born in 1924 as the second oldest of four sons in New York. His family moved to Washington, D.C. in 1930.
He began playing the piano at a young age and later learned how to play the trumpet. When he was 16, he played piano for dances in bands at Chesapeake Beach and North Beach.
After being drafted into the Air Force in 1943, he graduated from Catholic University and then married his wife Erma in 1950. They had five children and would eventually settle down in Silver Spring.
Carchedi began teaching band and orchestra at Buck Lodge Middle School in 1955 until his retirement in 1983.
“I’m a substitute teacher, and middle school is really the hardest age,” said Debbie Higgins Schoeneman, who was in the band at Buck Lodge Middle School in the early 70s.
“I think a lot of us were probably in the band because our parents made us. I know I was not the best musician and he took care of all of us and really I do think inspired us to do the best that we could, and he was always patient and always kind.”
Schoeneman said her whole family thought highly of Carchedi, including her two brothers who were also in the band. She said he had a calm, patient way about him and he shared with his students the gift of music that he had.
Douglas Perkins was in the band at Buck Lodge with Schoeneman from 1970 to 1973 and joined the band at High Point High School after that.
What he remembers most about being in Carchedi’s class was that he was given the “highly unusual distinction” that usually only concertmasters of large orchestras experience being the first chair of a section of 27 musicians, although as a trumpet player instead of a strings player.
“That speaks to Mr. Carchedi’s clear emphasis on inclusive participation and supporting young musicians to get a chance to be part of a band, even if they had more enthusiasm than skill,” he said. “It didn’t necessarily result in the sweetest sound or performance, but I think Mr. C had his values and priorities in the right order.”
Chuck Hancock attended the school around the same time and played in the band during his time at the school. Like Perkins and Schoeneman, he has fond memories of being in Carchedi’s class and remembers him being a “consummate professional” as well as being very caring towards his students.
Carchedi helped to prepare Hancock for his audition to join the High Point High School symphonic band, which was a very competitive placement at the time and a nerve-wracking experience.
“I am proud to say I made it and enjoyed three great years there,” Hancock said. “I have to think Mr. Carchedi played a big part in me being chosen for the high school band.”
Carchedi’s influence extended far beyond Buck Lodge Middle School. In his early career, he played piano at nightclubs, hotels and country clubs. Carchedi was a teacher by day, at night he spent time with his family then went off to various performances.
He’s played everywhere from live television broadcasts such as the Mark Evans Show and the Jim Gibbons show tonight gigs with the Clint Hobbs Orchestra at D.C.’s Casino Royal.
He played for 17 years at the Congressional Country Club and has performed during performances with singers such as Patti Page and Edith Piaf.
“I didn’t realize how much performing he was doing, but he was always very professional at our concerts that kind of thing, and I think that did leave an impression on me,” said Schoeneman as she explained the impact that Carchedi’s had on her. “When you’re doing your job, you should be doing it with pride and professionalism, and I think that stuck with me.”
Dozens more of his students from Buck Lodge described their experiences with him on a Facebook page called Buck Lodge Memories. They remembered Carchedi fondly as a very patient and caring teacher.
Following his retirement from Buck Lodge, Carchedi would still play various performances, however, reduced the number of gigs he had per week over time. He retired from music due to medical reasons shortly before his death at age 95.