Community members ranging from a few months old to senior grandparents joined together on Saturday to surprise their favorite music teacher — Miss Marilyn — as she taught her last class before moving to Virginia for her semi-retirement.
Marilyn Schwartz has been a staple in Bucks County for over 25 years as a teacher with Kids’ MusicRound, where she has taught children from Lower Makefield and surrounding towns while touching the lives of the families she meets.
Apparently stunned to find hundreds of families, past and present, at her morning class next to the Yardley-Makefield Fire Company Station 80, she quickly returned the love they showed for her.
“You all are my music family; remember that for the rest of your life,” Miss Marilyn said.
Kids’ MusicRound is an organization Miss Marilyn co-founded to bring her passion for music to children, delivering a blend of original, traditional and world music to newborns through 6-year-olds in various locations across the nation.
The morning of, early arrivers and planners began to set up at 9:30 a.m. Around 10 a.m., the special guest arrived at the scene completely shocked, but only a fourth of the crowd was present.
As Miss Marilyn began to set up for her class and say her hellos to old friends, more visitors arrived until an estimated 400 guests came, sporting her favorite color, red.
As she began her class, happy tears filled Miss Marilyn’s eyes as she looked over the sea of red, telling her loved ones, “I don’t know what to say other than thank you, I can’t get over this.”
She started the class with her iconic “Hello Song.” The crowd sang along, lighting up while watching Miss Marilyn sing, dance and play the guitar. Even with the large class, Miss Marilyn still involved every member, engaging her students as little kids followed her, parents clapped and danced with their young ones, and children sang and played their tiny instruments.
The crowd paused the festivities to take a group photo. Photographer Adam Kondos climbed a firetruck’s ladder to take a picture of everyone.
Afterward, organizers, friends, and family shared kind words and fond memories. Included among the speakers was Jared Miller, husband of co-organizer Sara Miller, who described Miss Marilyn as a “legend.”
“You’re not just our favorite music teacher, you’re our favorite teacher, the love you give out will live on for generations,” he said. “There will never be anyone to fill your shoes.”
When word of Miss Marilyn’s last class went out, friends and parents of students, including Sara Miller, Katie Heaton and Dari Kotzker and Schwartz’s daughters — Catherine Markowitz and Ilana Reyes — started to organize the surprise. The planning committee sent private Facebook invites and emails to current and past students. Organizers also shared that they raised $1,800 in donations for Miss Marilyn to explore and enjoy her new home.
State Rep. Perry Warren presented Miss Marilyn with a Pennsylvania state flag and a resolution from the State Assembly.
“I’ve known her for over 20 years, and she’s an absolute fixture in the community,” said state Sen. Steve Santarsiero, who dropped by for the event. “She’s impacted several kids by helping them find music in her classes, and she’s done it all with love and care. Her presence will surely be missed.”
The class ended with one final “Goodbye Song” as the crowd surrounded her and sang along.
Guests then said goodbye and her students gave her flowers, cards and gifts.
A still-shocked Miss Marilyn said, “Getting this music family is the best thing I’ve achieved. Giving the gifts of music is all I’ve ever wanted; singing and dancing can save lives.”