Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Clairemont’s Musical Treasure:Mary Gerard

By Audrey White

Go up the hill, turn right, then right, to the second house on the left—the same route I walked thirty years earlier. I am sending my nephew to his first violin lesson with Mary Gerard, a San Diego native, and long-time resident of Clairemont.
Students with Mary circa 1971*

An accomplished musician and teacher, Mary Gerard began studying music at the age of 12. At 16, she started playing with the San Diego Symphony. “They asked me to cut my hair to look more like a man,” she recalls of the male dominated symphony orchestras of the time. Playing a violin dating to the Civil War, passed down to her mother from her grandfather, Mary began what was to become a distinguished musical career.
Earning a graduate Certificate from the Drelinden Music Conservatory in Lucerne, Switzerland, a B.A. and M.A. from San Diego State University, and completion of all classes for a Ph.D. from University of California San Diego, Ms. Gerard has played both violin and viola with the San Diego Symphony, the San Diego Chamber Orchestra, the San Diego Opera Orchestra, and Starlight Opera. Along with her brother, David, Mary published an engaging book for young string players called THE WOLF, THE FROG AND THE ANT, a book currently used by string teachers across the country. She was Music Director and Conductor of Young Artist’s Symphony, and conducted Symphonic Strings for the San Diego Youth Symphony.

I had a chance to sit down with Mary and reminisce about the group of students she taught during my tenure with her. Many have gone on to professional musical careers: Geof Applegate, Detroit Symphony; Kati Mattis, St. Louis Symphony; and Joan Sturman,San Diego Symphony to name a few. All recall her fondly and with gratitude for the skills she taught them. Others, like me, have pursued non-musical careers, maintaining a love of music throughout our lives.

Teaching yet another generation of young musicians, Mary has continued to hone her teaching skills and is a more powerful educator than ever. She is Music Director and Conductor for All About Music San Diego. She provides private instruction in both violin and viola at all skill levels to both children and adults.

After 30 years, I picked up a violin and asked Mary for a lesson. It was an incredible experience—up the hill, turn right, then right to the second house on the left. There you will find one of Clairemont’s greatest treasures.

*Caption for 1971 Recital Photo:
From the right: Geof Applegate (Detroit Symphony), Kati Mattis (St. Louis Symphony), Joan Sturman (San Diego Symphony), Susan Smith, Carol Hennessey (violin teacher/performer), Tom Johnson (professional violinist), Carol Himaka (Buddhist Priest), boy and girl, Audrey White (Veterinarian), Gerita Hanna (accompanist), Mary Gerard

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