West Oak Lane: Local Teacher Uses Music to Build Community

Eva Donaldson taught student, Samiiyah, a lesson.


Eva Donaldson taught a student.

Music is a universal language, and Eva Donaldson made it her mission to spread that philosophy to her community.

That is why she made the decision to open the Eva Donaldson School of Music, located on Ogontz Street. The school, which provides music lessons to students ages three to 93, offers an affordable way to learn the art of music. Donaldson, who was trained at a young age in the classical genre, wanted a way to show students the different elements of music.

“When I was about 6 or 7 years old, and I was taking music lessons, I could only play Bach and Chopin,” Donaldson said. “One day I would have my own music school, where I could play all styles of music, because I thought there was more to it than just Bach and Chopin.”

From this mission, the school was founded and now provides lessons in more than 11 different instruments.

The school provides lessons in theory and voice as well as private instrument lessons, but that is not all the staff at this music school are aiming to teach. Kenneth Wilson, an instructor at the school, explained how music is influential to students in many ways.

“It challenges kids to use the basics of mathematics, reading, and comprehension,” Wilson said. “It gives them the ability to go into their school and think with the right side of their brain.”

Besides teaching music, the school is also community oriented. “I have an orchestra, which I don’t charge for, I teach the children for free,” Donaldson said. The free orchestra performs at several events, including Christmas performances, and gives children that normally wouldn’t have the opportunity to learn music a chance to perform.

“When we teach the kids how to play, we also teach them how to play together, and it gives them the tools of basically being a union and working together,” Wilson said.

The main lesson that is emphasized at the Eva Donaldson School of Music is music is the universal language. Donaldson explained how music is the same everywhere, and it is the one language that can be spoken and interpreted by everyone.

“The lessons they learn here transcend into any other activity, whether it be sports, academics, social life, church life or political life; they learn to work with others as well as to showcase their individual skills,” Wilson said.

A student learned piano at the Eva Donaldson School of Music.

Donaldson is not the only member of her family who is spreading music throughout their community. Her son, Robert Jackson, who teaches drums at the school, also plays in a band. He plays live concerts at Victoria’s Kitchen, located directly next door to the music school. For more information, contact the Eva Donaldson School of Music at 215-424-5672.

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