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Director Of Scarsdale School Inspired Generation Of Young Musicians

Joan Behrens Bergman will retire this year after 17 years as the director of the Hoff-Barthelson Music School in Scarsdale.
Joan Behrens Bergman will retire this year after 17 years as the director of the Hoff-Barthelson Music School in Scarsdale. Photo Credit: Courtesy of Hoff-Barthelson Music School

SCARSDALE, N.Y. -- Executive Director Joan Behrens Bergman’s inspired and loving leadership has benefitted everyone at Hoff-Barthelson Music School in Scarsdale for the past 17 years.

Bergman will retire this year, but her legacy is cemented in the faculty, students and school personnel with whom she has worked since 1999.

“Ms. Bergman treats Emily like her own child with love and caring,’’ Carolyn and Wei Wang said in describing Joan’s dedication to their daughter, Emily. “No words can express how grateful we are. Ms. Bergman’s exceptional teaching method, outstanding dedication to Hoff-Barthelson, passion for music and the love for her students is the legacy that she leaves behind.”

Bergman’s visibility and accessibility at nearly every school event during her tenure has been unanimously praised by past and present board, staff, faculty and students.

Under her direction, the school has enjoyed blossoming growth, and increased the quality and variety of its program. Along with the thousands of students who have enjoyed Joan’s unflagging dedication, so too have faculty members, some of whom consider Joan as a mentor.

“I have always felt completely supported in the work I do including the idea of creating a hand chimes program ... something totally unrelated to my flute, piccolo and chamber music instruction,” said Donna Elaine, a flute faculty member. “I explained why I felt such a program could fill a need in the musicianship course offerings and Joan totally embraced the endeavor. Joan leaves many, many legacies but most dear to me is her nurturing and growth of a comprehensive program for performance and practice performance.”

Piano faculty member Eileen Buck studied Pedagogy with Bergman at the Mannes College. “I really got to know her when I took her pedagogy class. At that time, I had no clue about teaching or had any interest,’’ she said. “But I started to get more interested in teaching piano after taking her class … I didn’t think I was such a good student, but she was very encouraging. Right after I took her class, she hired me as a teacher at Mannes Prep. From then on, she has been a mentor. She is very generous with her knowledge, and helpful when I have questions just about anything, piano or not.”

Bergman worked to ensure Hoff-Barthelson’s programs are available to all in the community, regardless of financial ability. Dean Ruth Alperson recalled the mother of a blind and underprivileged student who approached the school for lessons. The young girl played for hours at home. When Bergman learned of her story, she awarded her a full scholarship and found an unused a spinet at the school that she donated to the family for home practice.

“Her focus on every detail regarding pedagogy has resulted in scores of Hoff-Barthelson alum graduating with poise and confidence which benefits them in a variety of situations,’’ said Warren Haber, Jr., current Chair of Hoff-Barthelson’s Board of Trustees. “Joan's singular focus on educating students about the myriad benefits of music will live on for generations.”

Bergman will continue to be a regular presence at Hoff-Barthelson and will maintain her current teaching studio.

Click here to learn more about Hoff-Barthelson Music School.

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