The Pet-Loving Percussionist
For an issue dedicated to music and pets, there is perhaps no one better to grace the cover than Patty Dimodugno. A drummer for 52 years and current owner of five rescue dogs and cats, Patty has dedicated her entire life to serving others through her passions for percussion and animals.
“I play all the percussion instruments—vibes, marimba, and all the other instruments that you beat, tap, and shake,” Patty said. She gravitated towards the drums because her mother wasn’t permitted to play them in her own youth, being relegated only to the glockenspiel. Patty’s innate talent and instant knack for drumming led her to play in wedding bands for 10 years around 1994-2004. (“That’s how I bought my first house!” Patty happily reported.). She also played drums Off-Broadway and for the Lavender Light Chorus, an all-lesbian and gay gospel choir in New York.
Although she picked up percussion at a young age, Patty’s dream job was to be a veterinarian. “At 13, I was an elephant-pony-camel walker at the Bronx Zoo,” she said. Later, Patty worked as a recreational therapist, and then as an equestrian coach for youth in Nanuet, New York.
Sadly, Patty’s dreams of becoming a vet went unfulfilled; as she puts it, she “didn’t have the grades.” And thus, she turned to music. In Bergen County, Patty worked as a music teacher for 17 years with children with disabilities. With stints as a counselor with Saint Agatha’s School for Children in Rockland County, and working with Special Olympics, Patty’s aptitude to serve marginalized youth was fueled by a lesson she learned early at home. “My parents always told us to help those less fortunate than ourselves, and I go by that in life,” she said.
Later, in Newark, New Jersey, Patty worked for 10 years as an instrumental, vocal, and guitar teacher at Arts High School, the famed performing arts school that boasts alumni like Pose’s MJ Rodriguez. Established in 1931, it was the first performing arts high school in the country. For Patty, it was an honor to teach there. “It was like Fame in there—kids dancing in the hallways. It was a beautiful place to work.” According to Patty, more attractive than all the glitz, though, was the opportunity to work with inner-city youth.
Nowadays, Patty’s willingness to help the less fortunate is revealed in her love for her and her wife’s five rescue dogs and cats. “Now, I have my own Helen Keller institute at my house for the deaf and the nervous,” joked Patty, noting that many of their pets have disabilities or impairments.
Patty has learned a lot from her wife, who volunteers to confirm the safety of homes into which shelter dogs would move. They’ve both become big pet advocates. “I’d do anything for them, and spend anything for them,” Patty said.
But Patty’s service extends even beyond humans and animals! For the past three years, she has been volunteering with the Rainbow Thumb Club to beautify the CAMP Rehoboth Courtyard and gardens. While together at CAMP Rehoboth Chorus, Patty learned about the group from Linda DeFeo, who Patty affectionately calls “Mother Earth” for all her plant-based knowledge. “It’s so beautiful there—it really is its own sanctuary,” said Patty about the courtyard. “I’m so glad to volunteer with the Rainbow Thumb Club for CAMP Rehoboth because it’s such a wonderful thing to have in our community.”▼
Matty Brown is the Editorial Assistant for Letters and Operations Administrator at CAMP Rehoboth.