Dentist Swaps Drill for Baton
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Dentist Swaps Drill for Baton

Dr. Jerry Richman is taking advantage of the state’s program to audit university level classes by rekindling his musical passion.

After 35 years with the Atlanta newspapers, Marcia currently serves as Retail VP for the Buckhead Business Association, where she delivers news and trends (laced with a little gossip).

Jerry Richman has received great praise from the academic community at Kennesaw State University and is shown here with Julia Bullard, interim director of the Dr. Bobbie Bailey School of Music.
Jerry Richman has received great praise from the academic community at Kennesaw State University and is shown here with Julia Bullard, interim director of the Dr. Bobbie Bailey School of Music.

After 42 years practicing dentistry, Jerry Richman retired to direct his “senior” energy into pursuing his love and talent for orchestral conducting and studying music theory at Kennesaw State University.

Richman said, “I think dentistry is an art and science. Many colleagues dabble in art and music, as they all employ discipline, concentration, artful interpretations. I think I’m right brained…more artful, emotional, and good with people. I think conducting has the preciseness of dentistry, as well as an obvious aesthetic value.”

Music is not a new interest for Richman, who played trumpet before college and has been the bal takiah (Shofar blower) at Temple Sinai and the Breman Home for the past 10 years. He also has sung in the High Holiday choir as a baritone for over 25 years.

During the pandemic, he met the retired dean of the School of Arts and Design at KSU and became fast friends. At the art and design school’s annual fundraising gala, Richman won the opportunity to conduct the KSU Symphony.

Jerry Richman, who is lefthanded, conducted pieces by French composer George Bizet.

He recalled, “I had conducted in middle school and thought with my music background, that I should give it a shot.” Since then, his energy has been contagious with the young student musicians as he conducted two George Bizet romantic pieces.

Richman explained his technique at leading an orchestra, “There are some maestros, like Leonard Bernstein or Atlanta’s own Natalie Stutzman, who occasionally conduct a symphony without a baton. The two main purposes of a conductor are to set the timing and infuse emotion into the music. I found myself good at both. The maestro uses a conductor’s score, with a dozen parallel lines of music, one for each instrument section. There are several nuances in the score, where the composer directs the loudness, emphasis, tempo, and emotion.”

Richman intensely studied the score and rehearsed with a conducting tutor. He learned about eye contact and communication with individual musicians. Label him “self-taught,” watching endless YouTube videos and watching live conducting at the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra.

Jerry Richman and wife, Linda, like to travel and recently visited an ice hotel.

He continued, “In truth, symphony musicians may be able to play on their own, but the conductor truly controls the emotion and tempo. Although a novice, I felt confident in my public concerts. The experience was really exciting, and I was well received by the audience of over 500. At that moment, I felt room in my soul and calendar to delve more deeply into music.”

He enrolled to audit music classes as, per the state of Georgia’s education program, people over the age of 65 are entitled to free tuition at Georgia universities…for the experience, and not to earn degrees.

Richman was asked to join the KSU Arts Council, charged with raising funds for scholarships and outside support for the School of Arts and Design. Along the way, he met many bright, energetic, artful faculty and supporters at KSU. He stated,

“Through the philanthropic part, I feel I’m continuing tikun olam, helping students with their education and the arts, by raising funds for scholarships. Retirement from dentistry gives me time to pursue lots of worthwhile ventures. Happiness and comfort are things to which we all aspire. I believe that a day at the art museum, or listening to symphony, jazz, or a concert of any type, really provides people comfort.”

Julia Bullard, interim director of the Dr. Bobbie Bailey School of Music, and professor of music at KSU, has the last word on Richman.

“Our School of Music community has been enriched so much, not only by Jerry’s support and advocacy for our programs, but by his engaged presence as a student,” she said. “He’s a great example that a university education is truly about lifelong learning, and that music and the arts are for everyone. We have several adult learners in our programs, and our students see lifelong learning modeled every day in the classroom – it’s a valuable enrichment of their educational experience. Also, Jerry has really thrown himself into his study of music – not only conducting and music literature, but also music theory! It’s exciting to see someone really committing to an entirely new chapter of learning.”

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