The power of music: Bismarck man recognized for his dedication to music

Harvey Schilling, Bismarck, finds healing through music.
Harvey Schilling, Bismarck, finds healing through music.(KFYR-TV)
Published: Sep. 19, 2023 at 2:38 PM CDT
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BISMARCK, N.D. (KFYR) - There are many benefits to music. It can provide a social outlet, improve learning and memory, boost creativity and so much more.

One Bismarck musician says music can even help get through life’s toughest situations.

Music has been an important part of Harvey Schilling’s life for as long as he can remember.

“I got to play at church when I was nine years old,” he recalled.

He went on to study music in college, then spent a decade teaching high school music. Even after becoming a school administrator, he still made time for music.

“Music has always been in my back pocket,” he said.

Schilling was a long-time director of the El Zagal Plainsmen and is still a member of the local accordion club.

He and his wife, Diane, played ragtime music for thousands of conventions, church groups and senior centers. The Mandan band shell was a favorite performance spot.

Music was one of the things the couple enjoyed together, especially putting their own spin on familiar tunes.

“Diane didn’t study music,” he explained. “She couldn’t find middle C on the piano, but she developed into, I think, the best ragtime player in the area.”

These days Schilling’s music sounds a little different. His favorite pianist, and his wife of more than 60 years, passed away in August.

“I certainly use the piano a lot for myself now, just to console myself. That’s been a great, great help,” he said. “I can’t play like her, but I play songs that I hope she would enjoy.”

And while he plays, he says music is slowly helping to heal his broken heart.

Earlier this month, Schilling was inducted into the Dakota Musician Association’s Hall of Fame at a ceremony in Aberdeen, S.D.

He says while he’s honored to be in the Hall of Fame, it’s bittersweet because it’s something his wife would have loved to have been a part of.