Ashlanders: Lisa Truelove

Music teacher and musician Lisa Truelove enjoys being inspired by her students as much as she enjoys inspiring them to love music.

"It's wonderful when my young students fight over who gets to play first or when their faces light up as they are learning a new piece," she said.

In addition to teaching private classes, Truelove plays cello in the Rogue Valley Symphony Orchestra and is part of the Rogue Valley Chamber Players Ensemble, which works to introduce southern Oregon elementary school students to classical music.

Truelove spoke with the Daily Tidings at her Ashland studio about music and her harmonious life in Ashland.

DT: How long have you lived in Ashland?

LT: We've lived in Ashland for 21 years, now. Before that, we were living in the Dallas area and I was teaching cello at a Montessori school. My husband is also a musician and composer, he plays the piano.

DT: What brought you here?

LT: We just sort of wanted to get out of the rat race. I responded to a little tiny ad in a little string-teachers publication. It said Rogue Valley Symphony looking for a cellist to go out into the public schools and play in the chamber ensemble. I responded to that in the spring and we moved out here, sight unseen in September. We literally had never been here before, we just u-hauled it. Our two kids were about 10 and 12-years old. We didn't even have a place to live. Some symphony people let us stay at their place and keep our Grand piano in the barn.

DT: What instruments do you teach?

LT: I teach private cello classes and early age piano. My students range in ages from 5 to 82. I have a woman who drives here from Yreka (Calif.) every few weeks to play cello. She's great.

DT: Talk about the children's piano classes.

LT: Some of my students have gone on to university and majored in cello or something, but my emphasis isn't that they are going to grow up and be professional musicians. The main thing is that they love music. That's my focus. I think piano is a really nice introduction to any instrument. It's a little easier than a string instrument or woodwind or brass. Physically for small children, those are really hard. And I teach them to learn how to read music, learn rhythm, and the theory behind it. If they want to branch out to other instruments later that's wonderful too. I just want them to love it and remember music as a wonderful part of their life.

DT: Do you primarily teach children?

LT: I teach a lot of adults, too. I work with a group called the Second Street Chamber Orchestra. They meet bi-monthly at the middle school. This is a group of mainly retired adults who have had various careers and now they are getting back into music. Maybe they haven't played violin in 20 years or maybe they just started two or three years ago. We meet and play chamber music. I think music helps keep them young and active. They love it. And the physical part of it too is great, having to read the music, coordinate hand movements, and produce the right tone. I know trying new things is hard. I've tried yoga and I just could not do it. I have so much admiration for people who are trying music for the first time, people who are totally exposing themselves to something new and sticking to it. I just love sharing that love and enthusiasm with them, and saying, "Yay, you did it!"

DT: Tell us about the Rogue Valley Symphony.

LT: I play in the Rogue Valley Symphony Chamber players, which is the string quintet. We go to the public schools one a week during the school year. We visit Jackson and Josephine counties, then we go to Klamath Falls, and way out to places like Prospect, Butte Falls. It's wonderful. Many of the kids, particularly in the outlying areas will never see live music. We give a 30-minute program where we play a piece and invite the kids to participate in some way, we answer questions and play games.

DT: Talk about something that has been challenging for you.

LT: It's challenging just keeping a balance in my life. I feel like I'm always on for my students. I always want to be positive, but sometimes I'm tired. There's a balance to teaching, keeping up my own practice time, professional life and spending family time with my husband. There's balancing out or just crashing. I think that's hard for everybody.

DT: Talk about something that makes you proud.

LT: I play in the Britt orchestra in the summer. I'm really proud and happy to be a member of that. Those orchestra members come from all over the world. There are musicians from Spain, people that play in the New York Philharmonic. There are only about four local musicians that are in it, so I feel really honored to be in that, and I've played with them for about 15 years.

DT: Tell us about your family.

LT: Our kids are both grown now, they went through high school here and they are both in graduate school, now. Our daughter is at the University of Cambridge doing her Ph.D. She's doing international studies, but her focus is on water access. She spent some time in India and she speaks Hindi fluently. Our son is at the University of Manchester, also in England, studying biology. So we are trying to save our pennies to get up to England to see them both.

DT: How did you meet your husband?

LT: My husband and I met through a club called classical music lovers exchange. My mom had seen it in the back of the New Yorker and she sent me $20 to join (laughs). This is way back before computers. You fill out a tiny little profile with your interests and if you are interested you get the read-outs of the people. He wrote to me and we corresponded and eventually married. Of course, his last name was Truelove, so who could resist? We do play music together. We give piano and cello recitals. It is really neat to have someone to go to to talk about music, ask one another how to play a particular piece, and we go to concerts together. We're sort of empty nesters right now, but we have our students, so many wonderful kids.

DT: Do you have any upcoming performances?

LT: We have a Rogue Valley Symphony concert coming up in Ashland, on Jan. 22.

For more information about Rogue Valley Symphony events or tickets call 552-6398. For information about the Chamber Ensemble call 552-6354.

Angela Howe-Decker is a freelance writer living in Ashland. Contact her at

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