MARICOPA — Since childhood, Theresa Judkins has been passionate about music, singing and playing various instruments.
As an adult, she shares her passion for music with the Maricopa community. She has been a resident of Maricopa for about six years.
“Music has always played a role in my life and I enjoy the expression of emotion and simple testimony available through that medium,” Judkins said. “I have often had opportunities to participate with my church choir and enjoy being able to sing in that capacity as well. My mother is an accomplished pianist and modest composer and has instilled in me a love of music that has been an inspiration to me and my siblings.”
Judkins is a mom, software developer and musician who regularly participates in the Maricopa Music Circle.
She joined the group of musicians a few years ago following a conversation with her high school band teacher at a reunion.
“He encouraged all of us to find a local organization to participate in because it was evident how special music had been to each of us. He said that if we weren’t continuing to use those talents it was a shame,” she said. “His words resonated with me and I resolved to find a local group to play with.”
Judkins auditioned to join the Maricopa Music Circle and was accepted. She plays oboe and sometimes saxophone with the group.
The Maricopa Music Circle was founded in 2010 by pianist Judith Lang Zaimont, violinist Genevieve Ehrbright and cello player Mary Mullarky.
Over the years, the group, which performs in Maricopa and the surrounding area, has grown from a small number of musicians to a conductor-less chamber orchestra. The group performs music ranging from full orchestral works to classical instrumental and vocal solos as well as standards from the big band era to the popular tunes.
Judkins has performed a few vocal solos with the group.
“The Maricopa Music Circle provides plenty of opportunity for spotlight because of its size. Even when playing as a group, your skills are highlighted as each individual part is so crucial to the whole,” she said.
Her goal in joining the group was to meet other musicians while having fun playing music.
“Having an audience is an added bonus,” she said. “I would be satisfied just getting together to play but I am grateful that there are people willing to step up and lead the group so that we have the opportunity to play for others and enrich the community.”
She is also involved with her church choir, serving as the primary pianist for the children’s singing time portion of the worship service.
As well as singing, Judkins plays several instruments including the oboe, saxophone, piano and some percussion instruments such as cymbals, xylophone, marimba and vibraphone.
She plans to learn how to play the flute next. Her daughter will be playing the flute in her middle school band and Judkins wants to learn the instrument along with her.
“I thought it would be fun to learn together,” she said.
To Judkins, music has long been a way to feel and express emotions she says she might otherwise suppress.
“I am not very outwardly emotional and music gives me an opportunity to recognize, appreciate and savor some of those things,” she said. “Most of the music I sing for other people is centered around religious worship and I get a lot of satisfaction from songs and hymns of praise.”
In hymns, she values the simplicity of the testimony and poetry.
“They speak peace to my soul and help strengthen my efforts to become more loving and Christ-like as a person,” she said.
When she was a young child, church was the place where she says she found her voice.
“My voice had a clear quality to it and I do not remember having to struggle to be on pitch. My voice came very naturally to me and I enjoyed singing very much,” she said.
At age 4, she asked her mother — a music teacher and accomplished pianist — to teach her piano. But before long, rather than teaching, her mother sat and listed to Judkins play.
“Even at the age of 4, I had my own ideas about how I wanted to play music,” she said. “Without my mother’s dedication to instill a love of music, I would not have the skills I have today. It has brought joy to my life and now to the lives of my children.”
As a child, she would sing in her family church. Often the songs were written or arranged by her mother.
In elementary school, she sang several duets with her brother during music assemblies and talent shows.
“These experiences gave me a lot of exposure to fun musical participation in addition to my home and family life,” she said.
Throughout her childhood, Judkins said her mother would provide an environment for musical learning, playing music or putting on tapes and encouraging her nine children to play toy percussion or dance.
Judkins said she always enjoyed listening to her mother play the piano. She often played “Fur Elise,” “Claire De Lune,” “Moonlight Sonata,” “Malaguena,” “The Entertainer” and “Toccata and Fugue in D Minor.”
“I really learned the language of music through submersion,” Judkins said. “As I got older, we sang and participated in music together as a family. We continue this tradition of singing and playing music together today including some of my very talented in-laws and now our children.”
Music is a common bond for Judkins and her siblings. When they are together, they often sing and recently compiled and recorded a book of their mother’s hymns.
“We enjoyed recording the songs together as a gift for the family during Christmas a few years ago,” she said.
As a busy adult, Judkins said music is a special outlet for her.
“I don’t have a lot of free time but I enjoy having an outlet of friends that I can meet together with to share our love of music. Keeping those skills alive has always been important to me,” she said. “I believe fine arts provide beauty and creativity and is an important outlet for all to appreciate and share together.”
She appreciates that the people of Maricopa support fine arts.
“As we increase opportunities for learning and growth in our community we will see our children grow up with a foundation of good work ethic. Music cultivates an understanding of what it takes to learn a skill, work hard at it, and appreciate the result. Learning to pursue music pays dividends in life skills that translate to all aspects of our lives,” she said.
More information about the Maricopa Music Circle is online at maricopaartscouncil.wixsite.com.