Judy Cramer

Judy Cramer

Come a little early to a Main Street rehearsal and you will find Judy Cramer helping set up chairs and music stands, and then come talk to her about math, travel, or IT. Like most MSCB members, Judy’s life and career has taken many interesting twists and turns, eventually leading her back to music. Judy initially taught high school math in upstate NY and Washington DC, and later for Loudoun County schools after a 15+ year career in software quality assurance. Judy was both a QA analyst and Director for a few different software companies in Northern Virginia. “Being in a fledgling tech company and helping it grow was hard work but it was fun every day. I became good at testing, documenting, and generally preparing new products going out the door as I progressed into management. The company culture was great and the people were always upbeat and helpful. I looked forward to going in to work every day because I learned so much about management, testing software, and technical writing. The people there seemed like family. Returning to teaching in 2002 re-sparked my love of math and helping kids understand it better. I initially went back to teaching thinking it would be only for a year or two but it stretched into 15, ultimately satisfying requirements for full retirement benefits. During that time I taught everything from Algebra 1 through AP Statistics and Precalculus. I enjoyed relating to the kids though I have to admit that I missed the office atmosphere, which was not as constrained by strict scheduling and half-hour lunches!” All those years Judy was also raising her two children, Alison and Brett, Jr., now grown and pursuing their own very interesting careers in IT and film directing/editing as well as some very interesting avocations, like woodworking. Her own musical experience began in her hometown of Elmira, New York where she played piano all the way through high school, and participated in the concert and marching bands at the Elmira Free Academy. Judy received her bachelor’s degree in math at SUNY Brockport, and after returning to teaching, she received her master’s degree in education from GMU. The first time Judy walked into PJ’s for an after-rehearsal gathering she remembered meeting her late husband Brett there in 1981. “That place holds fond memories for me. Back then, as part of a much younger generation, my friends and I would stand in line on Friday and Saturday nights to get in as soon as the dinner shift ended, and there was always dancing in the bar area.” Last fall Judy started singing with both the GMU chorus and the Vienna Choral Society. Soon she realized that community music is both professional and fun, and eventually she found herself at an MSCB rehearsal and with her very own clarinet for the first time since high school. “I was surprised at how much I remembered (muscle memory?) about fingering, but am currently taking lessons to help my embouchure, speed, and everything else. I never thought I’d be in a band again, but I really am enjoying it as much as chorus and I really like the people I’ve met. Music was a big part of my life growing up, and it’s nice to have it back in my later life.” This past month Judy traveled through the Danube on a river cruise from Budapest to Passau, with a side trip to Prague. “The musical aspects (e.g., Mozart’s birthplace in Salzburg and a Strauss/Mozart concert in Vienna) really added to the experience. One thing that impressed me while in Hungary was the great sense of humor of the people, despite all they’d been through, first under the Nazis, then  by the Communist regime. Their sense of humor is genuine and clever, and not a bit cynical.” Judy loves music from the 1960’s through the present, but also enjoys listening to and playing Chopin, Liszt, Rachmaninoff, and Strauss. Although she thinks she has her hands full learning clarinet, Judy might like to try the flute or oboe one day.  For now she is working hard at her clarinet lessons, learning her band music, reading, studying French, walking, and learning to play Bridge.