This month’s member spotlight is on Judy Moore. Judy has enjoyed a long career of teaching, performing, and developing
curriculum, and is the founder and director of local flute choir Toot-in-Common. We sat down together over tea in Lemont
recently to chat about music, teaching, and life.
Judy was born in 1941 in Lock Haven, Pennsylvania, the oldest of four children. Her mother, a string player from a musical family,
started teaching Judy the piano when she was in 3rd grade. Judy also remembers being inspired by her Uncle Paul’s flute playing as a child.
She reminisces, “one time, about the time I was in 7th grade, we went to a family reunion and he was playing the flute. My mother said ‘Judy,
you should pick a musical instrument,’ and I said I wanted to play the flute because it looked so neat, what he was doing.” So Judy began taking
flute lessons at school and playing in the school band. As the family got older, they moved to Mackeyville, Pennsylvania to get away from the city
influence, where Judy attended Bald Eagle-Nittany High School.
Music became increasingly important in Judy’s life as a teenager. She recalls going with her band director in 10th grade to a regional ensemble
festival in Atlantic City, “and that’s when I found out what people played like. And I realized I was not anywhere near that level.” (She sings a few
energetic notes of Tchaikovsky’s 4th Symphony into the cafe.) Inspired, Judy began envisioning a life playing and teaching music. “I remember one
day I was practicing and I said ‘Mother, I want to take up music as a career.’” Her mother was delighted, and arranged for Judy to take the bus to
Williamsport for flute lessons. She also encouraged Judy to attend her alma mater, Carnegie Tech in Pittsburgh, to study flute performance and music
education. Soon after arriving, Judy heard an orchestra for the first time, and was mesmerized. Throughout her undergraduate years, she practiced the
flute and piano diligently, and was given the opportunity to play as principal flute in the orchestra.
Before graduating, Judy met and married Jack Moore, a chemistry major, who swept her off to Baltimore where she completed her Bachelor’s degree
and earned a Master’s in Flute Performance at The Peabody Institute. While in Baltimore, Judy taught elementary general music.
By 1969, the couple had two children, Jack and Victoria, and had moved to Prince George’s county, Maryland, where Jack Sr. researched and taught
physical chemistry at The University of Maryland. Jack had given Judy a guitar for Christmas, and she developed a curriculum for teaching beginning
guitar which she taught through the Department of Parks and Recreation in PG county. After subbing for a few years in a special education classroom,
Judy taught general music and home economics at Stephen Decatur Junior High from 1977 to 1980, where she developed her techniques in classroom
management. “At first I didn’t have the right whip,” she recalls, but with assistance from her colleagues, by her final year “it wasn’t such a bloodbath.”
Judy joined the Prince George’s Philharmonic as principal flutist in 1979, a position she held until 1985.
In 1980, Judy accepted a position at Eleanor Roosevelt High School in Greenbelt, Maryland, where she remained until 2003. During her time there,
Judy taught classes of 25 to 30 students guitar and piano. She and her predecessor, Denny Foster, further developed Denny’s curriculum which included
opportunities to build skills in reading and writing music, music theory, and guitar and piano technique, along with elements of Dalcroze eurhythmics.
This curriculum was published by the Prince George’s County for use in the school system. While at Roosevelt, Judy also led a flute choir, directed
over 20 musicals, and helped juniors develop a portfolio for getting into college.
1984 brought the first Apple Macintosh and kindled Judy’s fascination with computers. “That thing just got a hold of me,” she enthuses. “I had to
have one!” She recalls driving to work one morning on the Baltimore Washington Parkway, listening to the radio announcer claim that the computer
was “going to change society. It was going to be a technological event such as learning to read was for our forebears. And I said, "Man, I gotta jump
on that wagon.” Her interest in technology combined with her background creating curricula as she developed and taught a class in recording
technology at Roosevelt High as well. “Music was being looked on as a frill,” she remembers thoughtfully, “and they wanted us to do something
Once both children graduated from high school, Judy had only her full time teaching job, performing, and curriculum development to keep her
busy. So in 1995, when a colleague left his position open in the University of Maryland’s Curriculum and Instruction Ph.D. program, Judy jumped
at the chance for more schooling.
Over the next five years, she took classes in the summer, deepening her understanding of how and in what order
to teach musical skills and concepts. With her dissertation, “Music Education in Prince George’s County, Maryland, from 1950-1992: An Oral History
Account of Three Prominent Music Educators and Their Times,” complete, Judy received her Ph.D. in 2004, one year after retiring from school teaching.
Her husband retired as well, and in 2005 they moved to State College, Pennsylvania where Judy’s mother played in the Nittany Valley Symphony.
While the tempo may be slower, life in State College has been dynamic. Judy describes a home filled with music, as besides a piano she has a
menagerie of flutes including “a contrabass, bass, three altos, two C flutes, a piccolo, and two Baroque flutes.” And as ever, her life seems to be filled
with music as well. Since returning to Central PA, Judy has dived deep into the world of flute choirs, playing around the world with large groups and
founding Toot-in-Common in 2006.
Along with Toot-in-Common’s weekly rehearsals and local performances, Judy has also taught private piano, guitar,
and flute students, and has been active in her local chapter of the Music Teachers National Association. She has enjoyed knitting, keeping fit, golfing,
and spending time with her dogs and her daughter, an artist in Bellefonte. She has suffered adversity as well, with 2010 and ‘11 bringing the loss of her
husband and son, respectively.
Looking back, Judy reflects how the the breadth of her experiences has expanded her own musical and teaching skills. Teaching guitar helped her
develop her aural skills while transcribing licks for students, and the approach to chords “opened up a lot of things for me, to think in units as opposed
to linearly.” In her current flute teaching, she uses material and approaches from the Suzuki methods along with other, non-classical repertoire. Judy
believes that, although not everyone is musically inclined, everyone should learn in the way that best fits them, by “building on their strengths” and learning
music which they enjoy. “I let the students have a lot of choice,” she says, “rather than saying ‘you will learn this classical piece today.’” When looking back
on her years of teaching music in public schools, Judy says, “My hope and goal was that students would embrace music as something that they would want
to learn more about throughout their life, either as a listener or as a performer.” Judy herself seems to exemplify this hope. “I don’t know what I would do
without music,” she says. “Do you?”
More information about Judy’s musical career can be found here on the Toot-in-Common website.