Music Teacher's Helper Blog

Music is for Life

By Robin Steinweg

How can I impress on my students that music is for life? Few sports can be played into later years. But music is for life. A job might be fulfilling until retirement. Music is for life.

I’ve started a master class series in which I’ll invite musicians to share their music and their stories.

Martha Nelson shares why music is for life

Martha Nelson shares why music is for life

The first was Martha Nelson, a drummer/singer/pianist/accordion player who entertained in all-girl bands in the 1930s, 40s and 50s.

Martha practicing accordion

Martha practicing accordion

Martha sang weekly on the Jerry Blake Show for Madison, Wisconsin’s WKOW TV its first year on the air.

Martha Nelson about to sing on WKOW-TV Madison, WI in the 1950s

Martha Nelson about to sing on WKOW-TV Madison, WI in the 1950s

She passed her music on to her daughters, who are both working musicians (and one of whom is yours truly). She drummed for our family’s dance band through the 1980s.

Mom, daughter master class 2-11-15

Martha played several pieces for my students (including the Glenn Miller hit “In the Mood”), and shared the story of how she got her start. She went all the way back to her mother. Grandma planned to travel to the U.S. from Sweden to join her husband. She was booked to sail on the Titanic. But her first-born, my Aunt Vicky, got sick, and they had to wait. Mom told my students their teacher wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for that.

She taught herself piano. One of ten children, her dad brought a drum home one day, handed it to her, and told her that would be her instrument.

Now at 89, she still plays piano and sings. And one can often see her foot going or hear her fingers tapping in true drummer fashion.A year ago she joined me singing in a coffee shop—and I gotta tell you, she’s still got it! Her voice hasn’t really aged. Music helps keep her young.

Martha master class 2-11-15 Guest artist Martha Nelson 2-11-15

Yeah, play it!

After Martha’s presentation, my students entertained her. The final song, by Chris, was—“My Heart Will Go On”—the theme from the movie Titanic!

Dane & Chris

Dane & Chris













Ava, Sam & Sara, seated

Ava, Sam & Sara, seated

Music is good for many things: for background, for relaxing, for accompaniment to shopping or working,

for inspiration, entertainment, making a living,

passing on to another generation,

Passing the gift of music on to the next generation and the next...

Passing the gift of music on to the next generation and the next…

and enjoying—from the womb till one’s final breath and into eternal life.

Music is for life!



About the Author

Robin Steinweg has found music to be like the creamy filling of a sandwich cookie--sweet in the middle--especially making music with family.
A great joy is seeing her students excited to make music for themselves. From her studio in Sauk-Prairie, Wisconsin, she teaches ages 4-84 piano, guitar, voice, woodwinds, ukulele and recorder.
Musically, she composes, arranges, performs, directs, consults... [Read more]


  1. Kelli Kelson

    Hi Robin, I never thought about how music is for life, as opposed to many other things that keep us busy but eventually will end. Thanks for your post.

  2. Sandy

    Thanks for sharing that story, Robin. My mom passed her music on to me too.

  3. Robin Steinweg

    Kelli, thanks for your comment!

  4. Robin Steinweg

    Sandy, we can be so grateful, can’t we? Moms who pass it on. 🙂

  5. Jean

    Beautiful story. I need to remind students (maybe more so the parents) about this more often. Have a great day!!

  6. Robin Steinweg

    Thank you, Jean. Yes, I agree–it doesn’t always occur to busy parents to think so far into the future for our kids.

  7. Lori Lipsky

    Robin, This is such an important truth. Music is for life. Like your mom, my neighbor is in her eighties, and piano is a huge part of her life. She still plays beautifully. She invites other musicians into her home to perform. She accompanies a singer for his practice once a week. Music has helped her keep connections and live vitally as she ages.
    By the way, I heard you and your mom sing at the coffee shop, and she does still have it! ~Lori Lipsky

  8. Robin Steinweg

    Lori, thank you for your comment! What a great thing, to witness the way music has staying power. And giving power!

  9. […] read about my first guest in this series: professional drummer, vocalist and pianist Martha Nelson: Music Is for Life    …and here are a few of my […]

  10. Karen Monroe

    Robin, thanks for sharing this! I love this master class idea! And I just LOVE this concept…music for life. I often say Give the Gift of Music. I really should be saying “Give the Gift of Music for Life”! I hope you share in future blogs how you do this master class series. How you find these people (besides your mom), etc. Kids need to see how it affects people they REALLY look up to (grandparents).

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