By Pamela Bieri
“Teaching children how to play music has been my passion for over 50 years,” said Ruth Moir, founder of the Steinway Society of Riverside County (SSRC). “When my own children were young, I stayed home with them. I began playing the guitar for their kindergarten classes, and it went on from there. Being an entertainer helps me be a good teacher; engaging the children is very important.”
Music wasn’t the first creative discipline for the Boston native. Moir was trained in the fine arts working in all mediums, particularly oils with one-woman shows in the Boston area and later in Marin County, Calif.
However, with more than five decades introducing children to music as a teacher and performer in the San Francisco Bay area and the Coachella Valley, Moir’s diverse music career creates a legacy of inspiring generations of music listeners and artists.
Moir wrote TV commercials and appeared on the CBS Network nationally for 14 years in 82 markets, and was an Emmy nominee in 1980. She was a member of Youth in Arts in Marin County, writing and producing a series of original music comedies for children; and Children’s Theatre of San Francisco, forming a 10-piece youth orchestra with performances at the Palace of Legion of Honor and the De Young Museum.
When new to the desert in 2000, Moir became involved with Prosser Piano which had been awarded the Steinway Gallery franchise. In 2002, she joined forces with colleagues and community leaders forming the Steinway Society of Riverside County (SSRC) to help fill the growing music education gap in all three Coachella Valley school districts.
To date, SSRC serves 35,000 children annually with high quality music education programs in schools and serves the community with classical concerts throughout the year as well as Music is Wellness at Eisenhower Memory Care Center and other adult day care programs for dementia patients.
School programs include Classic Concerts featuring pianists, soloists, dancers, and youth orchestras, attended by some 20,000 K-12 students every year. Piano labs include pianos, materials, teachers, group lessons, and keyboards for practicing at home.
In-school docent programs are the McSymphony Series with Steve Battaglia whose six-part series for K-6th grade has just been video-taped for schools and posted on the Steinway website.
The Basics of Orchestra, taught by professional musicians Robert Poehling and Joe Giarrusso, teaches symphony orchestra instruments for 4th and 5th graders.
Another 4th and 5th grade program is the “Ukesters,” ukulele labs taught by internationally known musician Jeanie Cunningham.
For the past 20 years, Riverside County music teachers have entered students into SSRC’s annual piano Festival Competition and Winners Concert. Designed by pianist and educator Jim McCormick, students work with a world-class adjudicator in a master class, a private lesson, and then in concert. Ten winners receive a $500 study award each and perform at the Winners Concert.
For more information about SSRC, please visit www.steinwayriverside.org.