That time when Mister Rogers played tuba with Sam Pilafian

Fred Rogers and Sam Pilafian explore the tuba on 'Mister Rogers' Neighborhood.'Fred Rogers Productions

April 08, 2019

As the music world mourns the passing of tuba virtuoso Sam Pilafian, who has died at 69, we can't help but remember the times when TV legend Fred Rogers visited with the highly regarded instrumentalist and his ensemble, the Empire Brass Quintet, on Mister Rogers' Neighborhood.

In one clip, Rogers visits with Pilafian and marvels at the size of the tuba and the amount of air it takes to play.

"It's like going out and playing real hard on the playground," Pilafian explains. "And then afterwards, you're real tired. But it's a really nice kind of tired — just like when you play the tuba, same feeling."

Then Pilafian shows Rogers how to play the tuba.

Rogers also visited with the Empire Brass. After starting with David Chesky's gorgeous Central Park Morning, the group goes on to play John Philip Sousa's Stars and Stripes Forever so Rogers can march away, but a rapt Rogers can't pull himself away.

"I just couldn't leave," he exclaims, adding with a laugh: "If you play it once more, I will go, though!"

(To view the following video, click on the "Watch on Vimeo" button.)

RIP, Sam Pilafian.