Musician and teacher Marji Gere is originally from Iowa and has lived in Taxes, Minnesota and abroad, but has found her true home in artist-centric Somerville.
“Somerville feels like my most natural habitat so far,” said Gere, who was recently named Somerville Arts Council’s May Artist of the Month. She moved here with her husband four years ago and quickly found work that allowed her to combine her dual passions, music and education. “I’m not sure if we were just lucky or if this was just a great spot for us right now.”
Gere, a violinist, has been playing music since she was a child. She currently performs with the Boston Public Quartet and runs a nonprofit teaching organization called musiConnects with them.
“We work as a quartet as a performing group and rehearse several times a week. We’re working on that art form together and organizing a music education project within the Boston Public Schools. We’re working together as a team of musicians,” Gere said.
MusiConnects brings free music instruction to children who might not have the opportunity to learn string instruments. Gere and her fellow teachers do all of the organization’s work, including the fundraising.
“The teaching part for me is always front and center,” Gere said. “I like the idea of trying to figure out how other people work. Each student is really different and the task of teaching them is really different depending on the person. I like that challenge.”
As for what drives Gere to share her musical gifts, she says that as someone who was given the chance to learn music as a child, she wants to provide that opportunity to others.
“It’s something that I feel like I need to do,” Gere said. “You’re given an opportunity and part of your job is to pass that on and not keep it to yourself. Luckily I enjoy it too. I realize what a big responsibility it is. The way I talk to children and people about music will affect how they think about music for the rest of their lives.”
Gere is currently preparing for a big performance, but once that’s behind her she plans to devote some time to her other passion: puppetry. Gere is building a puppet for friends to use in a show this summer.
“Any time I have a chance to get involved in puppetry projects, I try to,” Gere said. “I often think in puppet terms.”
And while Gere spends a lot of time in Boston for her work, it’s her home in Somerville that provides a lot of the creativity that inspires her work and hobbies.
“I feel most at home in Somerville,” Gere said. “The arts are all mixed up with everything else. A lot of times art is cordoned off in its own building with tickets and it’s not like that here. Arts are part of natural life here.”
P.S. I’ve been writing about each Artist of the Month this year and you can read about all of them here.
Images courtesy of the Somerville Arts Council.