99-year-old music teacher honored at Oakland concert

October 19, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
The Oakland East Bay Symphony Orchestra launched a series of six concerts for young people with a tribute, a salute to a man who has been giving kids free music lessons for more than 50 years and the man has been around for nearly a century.

The Oakland East Bay Symphony Orchestra gave a free concert for young students. It was exposure to classical music for a new generation.

"It's really about showing them a wider world and showing them the importance of gathering together to hear live music," says musical director Michael Morgan.

Along with the audience of students was Giles "Bud" Cropsey who has been teaching piano to kids at his alma mater, Roosevelt Middle School, for more than 50 years.

"Oh, well I want to give something back when I went to school," says Cropsey.

It was a thank you to a modest man for volunteering to advance children's musical education. That feat is pretty remarkable for a guy who is 99 years old. He calls music an international language.

"They can barely talk to each other but they can make beautiful music together, so music is something that ties us all together," says Cropsey.

It's happened to him with two students, a Vietnamese girl and a Chinese boy.

"They had never seen each other, never met each other. I teach them separately and at Christmas time they played a duet and that was my greatest achievement," says Cropsey.

In a sense, Bud has been a one-man crusade to enrich children's lives through music, embodying what the Oakland East Bay Symphony does in these young people's concerts.

"What we're hoping is it will simply broaden their horizons. They don't all have to be musicians, but they all need to be exposed to all these different things that go on in the world," says Morgan.

Cropsey was born and raised in Oakland, attended public schools in the city and graduated from Roosevelt in 1929, when it was a high school.

After working at various odd jobs for a few years, Cropsey attended the College of Marin and played percussion with the Marin Symphony.

He received a B.S. in business administration from the University of California at Berkeley in 1934 and earned a master's degree in economics from the same university in 1935.

Bay City News contributed to this report


Load Comments