Friend of Music
Barasch shares time, talents at Montrose
Judy Barasch (center) is the Bexley City Schools' Friend of Music for 2013, recognized by Bexley Music Parents. She was surprised with the award presentation, which included Montrose music specialist Nonon Mathews (right) and Bexley Music Parents board member Mary Gardner.
Bexley's schools open their doors every day to a myriad of volunteers.
Many of those volunteers serve because they love spending time in school with their children. Others enjoy giving back to the schools where their children spend hours each year.
But there are the few who have no ties to the school or children to look after -- they volunteer simply out of love.
Meet Judy Barasch, recently named a Friend of Music by the Bexley Music Parents, an all-volunteer organization that supports music programming in all of Bexley's schools.
Barasch is a resident of Gahanna and a former teacher. She instructed deaf children in Illinois for 10 years before coming to Columbus and working at the Ohio School for the Deaf for another 15.
When she retired in 2009, she decided to play the violin again, so she turned to Bexley private instructor Merry Pruitt for help in picking up where she left off her senior year in high school.
"I put my violin under the bed when I went to college," said Barasch, adding she pulled it out in 1990 when she began to play along with her young niece.
Every Thanksgiving, the two would play duets for their family to enjoy. But it soon became apparent that Barasch had some catching up to do -- so she sought some extra help.
While taking private lessons from Pruitt in 2009, she was asked to help out at a Montrose Elementary School town hall meeting by Pruitt and another teacher who taught there.
One cold evening in December, she performed with the children, lending her musical talents to a show.
"I qualified as a strong player," she said.
She loved the experience and saw a great opportunity to share her talents and volunteer at the school.
"I was hooked."
Volunteering has been a love of hers ever since. Twice a week she comes to Montrose and works with young children, usually fourth-graders, playing the violin or the viola. Sometimes, she helps a bit with the cello.
"Students benefit not only from her musical skills, but from her intuition as a former teacher," said Montrose music specialist Nonon Mathews. "She is kind and caring and is often the one who students turn to in class.
"Most of all she continues to teach students that it is OK to learn and grow at any age."
Barasch said she and Mathews share a special bond, calling her a "wonderful person."
But it's the children and the atmosphere that has had Barasch coming back week after week for 31/2 years.
"This is the perfect combination of music and teaching. I couldn't ask for a better place to spend my time and share my skills," said Barasch. "It's just such a joyful place to be."
Both Barasch and her husband are retired, with a grown son who works a computer programmer. Barasch still takes violin lessons, now through Suzuki Columbus Music and instructor Susan Locke.
Barasch was surprised to learn of the award last month, and even more honored to be publicly recognized at Jazz It Up, the group's annual fundraising event held April 27 at Capital University.
"As I told everyone there, this award is certainly an honor. But truly, I do what I love every Tuesday and Thursday at Montrose Elementary School."