Musician Timothy Gudger shares how music has impacted him

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, January 30, 2013

In the series, “Playing It Forward,” the Salisbury Symphony Orchestra has shared what motivates musicians to teach music to children. To close it out, here is a letter from Timothy Gudger, principal violist with the Salisbury Symphony.
Although Gudger is not a music teacher, he is a great example of the benefits children receive from early music education.
“There are a variety of my current attributes and achievements as an adult that I believe are a direct outcome of having been privileged to partake in the strings programs offered in the Salisbury-Rowan School System:
“Dexterity is probably one of the more evident outcomes. The mind-power to be cognoscente of what is written on the page, what one is hearing, what one is seeing, and translating all of this into, in its most basic essence, movement of your right and left hands on an instrument requires a tremendous amount of focus.
“Developing this mental agility at an early age, I believe, is what gave me the knowledge to excel academically, get a master’s degree in viola performance, acquire a well-paying job as a staff accountant, and continue to play in four orchestras and be principal violist in one.
“The discipline that is required to learn, improve and succeed as a musician had immediate benefits that still carry on today in my personal life. I believe that this discipline is what kept my high attendance in school. I suspect that this is the same reason that I take the same approach to my work. From an early age, I was taught to set standards and goals and that I had to stick with them.
“Being in the strings program gave me a group of friends with whom I could identify and bond. Moreover, it kept me out of circles of people who might have led me down a path of personal destruction.
“Furthermore, I have found later in life that the people who identify with music as I do tend to be of a higher caliber and social standing. I think these positive and upstanding individuals tend to improve my integrity as well. In retrospect, I think these people may have always been a positive role model for me and a reason for my success.
“There is a uniqueness to playing an instrument. I was in a sizeable string class, yet we all sounded different. It may have been the amount of discipline each individual put forth in his practice, but I think it’s more than that. There is an ineffable quality to music that allows each person to play, hear, or interpret it differently. So, even at that early age, uniqueness is developing. The strings program only boosts that individuality we all inherently have. It hones it, nurtures it, and then it blossoms.
“I want to add that I was the fourth child in a family of non-musicians. I had never heard classical music until the Symphony came and played at our elementary school. While my parents didn’t understand my fascination, at least they didn’t discourage it. So here I am today, the first in our family to graduate from college, the first to be successful financially, blessed to be in association with friends and colleagues who are respected and well established, and motivated to still improve and self-determined enough to do it. Do I accredit this to music? Most definitely!”
This is the fifth in a series of short stories submitted by the Salisbury Symphony Orchestra to spotlight its teachers.
For more information about After-School Strings classes, call 704-637-4314 or visit the symphony’s website at