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Ten strings, five knee levers, three foot pedals and a little inspiration


By Mitchell Walbridge

Fri, Jul 12th, 2013
Posted in All Features

Barb Mosher

By Mitchell Walbridge

Odds are pretty good that you’ve heard her name once or twice or maybe even heard her perform on the steel guitar. Barb Mosher of Spring Valley, Minn. has been teaching and learning music, particularly piano, to her students, for more than 60 years. And, she still hasn’t stopped reading the notes, playing the strings, and tickling the ivory. In fact, she continues to teach as many students as ever. This past school year she had more than 50 students. In the past two years she has had even more adults. She even has taught a family group spanning four generations.

Truly encountering the musical world in her freshman year of high school in 1948, Mosher remembers an open house she attended, where she was first introduced to the steel guitar.

Sitting in the front row, she was mesmerized by the unfamiliar instrument. Luckily for her, her curiosity kept her around long enough to acquaint her with her with the person who would be her first instructor. “He told me that if I could find five other kids, he would give us lessons. So, I found five others.” But Mosher ended up being the only one who stuck with it.

By the time Mosher was a junior in high school in 1951, she began teaching. She took lessons in Austin, Minn. and continued them. In fact, even though she has so much experience, she still takes lessons every Friday.

Through her experience as an instructor, Mosher has met so many people. She has taught at her home and at St. Johns Lutheran in Wykoff, Minn. Her youngest students are five years old, while the oldest spans into his 90’s.

But what is so special about Barb Mosher is how much she gives back to others and local communities. “One time, I met a handicapped woman at a concert I played at, and she told me that my music did more for her than her medications. That’s what life is about,” stated Mosher.

She has taught the handicapped, some with down syndrome and other mental illnesses. “They just love it. They know that they can do something that others can’t, and it brings a smile to their faces.” When she’s not giving lessons, you most likely won’t find her at home. Mosher’s daughter, Janelle, jokes, “I have to call people just to check if they’ve seen my mother. She’s always on the go.” Mosher plays at the Chosen Valley Care Center, at Cowboy Church Services at the Cherry Grove United Methodist Church, at many surrounding communities, and at the state Horse Expo.

Her music has taken her many places, as she has attended several conventions. In Waterloo, Iowa, she had the privilege to be the first female steel guitar player to perform at a convention in 2006.

There is more to life than just music for Mosher though. She’s a caregiver, as her daughter describes her. “She has taken care of so many neighbors who were elderly, one was even blind.” Mosher even took care of her ex-husband by taking him to dyalisis when needed.

As anyone can probably tell, music is second to none other than family. Raising two children, Janelle and Tom, Mosher supported her kids. Now she does the same for her grandkids and great-grandkids. “Mom worked all the time giving music lessons, but when we’d come home after school or from our activities, she’d always get dinner ready and we’d be off to the next thing,” said Janelle.

Today, it’s always the celebration in the Mosher house on holidays. There’s always music. “The grandkids and great-grandkids come over and the first place they go is to the piano. And grandma is always right behind them,” describes Janelle.

Barb Mosher is an inspiration to so many around Fillmore County, her current and former students, and especially to all of her acquaintances throughout her musical career. “Music is a universal language. Everyone can recognize it even if they don’t speak or read it,” commented Mosher. “Mom always made it look like a great life. It has taught my brother and me patience.”

To those who have any curiousity in learning music, Mosher offers, “You have to try it. It’s not for everyone, but if you persevere and put in at least ten minutes a day, you’d be surprised at what you can accomplish.”

Living a content life and being active is so important, and Mosher shows this everyday. And as Mosher has shown, you don’t need much to accomplish this. It may just be 10 strings, five knee levers, three foot pedals … and just a little inspiration.

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