An Irrepressible Joy

Amidst a world consumed with big-picture worries, the contributions of a single person often get overlooked. They shouldn’t.

Our children first met Barbara McGill when they were toddlers. Sitting on their mom’s lap, they clapped hands, bashed cymbals, and began to learn music from Ms. Barbara. As a music teacher in the public schools and later as a teacher to younger kids, Ms. Barbara shared the irrepressible joy she found in music and touched literally thousands of lives.

Our son took piano lessons from her for 7 years, gravitating toward Mozart and Beethoven after mastering “San Francisco Trolley.” He participated in an annual winter recital that Ms. Barbara organized in a nearby retirement home. Once, as a child banged out “Home on the Range,” the seniors in the audience—some of whom were extremely old and not very engaged in the program—spontaneously began singing. My daughter and I teared up when we realized the music brought back words not sung in many decades.

Ms. Barbara passed away on Saturday, surrounded by her husband and family—and, in a wider circle, by generations of Baltimoreans who know music because of her.—Brian

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