What does Hill music educator do with no students?

by Len Lear
Posted 3/5/21

What does a music teacher do during the pandemic when her classes and private lessons have disappeared?

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What does Hill music educator do with no students?

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What does a music teacher do during the pandemic when her classes and private lessons have disappeared? Some have been giving virtual lessons, but what about those who have not? We posed this question to Chestnut Hill resident Barbara Golden, who has been a music professor or adjunct music professor at Temple University, Muhlenberg College, Montgomery County Community College, University of the Arts, Moravian College, Settlement Music School (a master class for high school string students), et al.

Also a performer as a pianist, harpsichordist and conductor, Golden, 69, grew up in Bayside, Queens, and then Great Neck, NY, graduated with the highest honors as a Brandeis University undergrad, then earned a master's degree and a doctorate in education from Columbia University.

So what is Golden doing with her music during the pandemic? “I read an article in the Local (in 2019) about a local cellist, Ron Lipscomb,” she replied. “It was so wonderful to read about him and his perspective on music that I got in touch with him, and we are looking forward to playing cello/piano duets when this pandemic is over.

“We agreed on the music we want to play, and I have the music on the piano and have been working on it. Mostly Beethoven. It is good for me to have something that I am preparing to play with other musicians after the pandemic. It keeps me practicing and focused. I love it. So thank you for your article. I hope that if a musician reading your article about me needs a pianist, they will contact me!

“That is what keeps me going. I have a flutist and vocalist that I work with, and now a cellist. The more musicians that I have contact with, the more I enjoy what we talk about, what we prepare and what we play. This is a part of me that has always been and always will be very important and part of my soul. It nurtures me in a very special way. I feel very lucky to have that.”

Golden also works with Musicopia, a local nonprofit that provides music enrichment programs, mostly in underserved communities. “I am glad to have connected with other music educators in Philadelphia by email through Musicopia,” she said, “and I look forward to doing more with them in the future when this pandemic settles down.” Golden also donated instruments to Musicopia, and so many other educators have done the same thing that for the time being they are not accepting any more musical instruments.

Musical talent and the love of performing are in Golden's DNA. Her father was a cellist, and all her relatives on his side of the family are/were musicians. “My father is now 97,” she said, “and is not playing the cello anymore. A loss for him. I have his cello, and he would like me to give the cello to a young student who can not afford to buy one. He has a story about how he got his cello. He could not afford one and was living in Brooklyn, where his teacher, who had lent him a cello, told him that he would do what he could to get my dad a cello. My father worked all summer as a busboy and saved every penny.

“In the fall he gave the music teacher all the money he had, and the teacher took it and got him this cello. He never knew how much the teacher paid for it, but having a cello of his own made all the difference. He continued studying and playing right up until age 90. If my grandchildren are not interested in playing the cello, I will make sure his wishes are followed ...

“I am at the piano every day, sometimes for a short time, sometimes longer. Starting the day with Bach or more recently, Scarlatti, and then moving on to a sonata … and then I might take out a jazz book and play some standards while my husband sings. Fun.”

For more information, email barbarajogolden@gmail.com. Len Lear can be reached at lenlear@chestnuthilllocal.com

One of my most fun activities has been giving my grandkids little piano lessons.  There are three of them and each interested in a different way.  It is fun to have them demonstrate what they are practicing and they are proud of themselves as they progress.  Whatever they do with it in the future who knows.  For now it is a fun activity for me to share with them and for them it is a special thing to do with grandma.

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