Margaret Jean Bernstein’s Story
Margaret Jean Bernstein
Margaret Jean Bernstein is an award winning songwriter, flutist and educator with dynamic lyrics and a positive and compelling message. Internationally known for her Socially Awakened Songs and Uplifting Instrumental compositions, Margaret is a classically trained musician and accomplished instrumental performer. She is also the founder of Growing Azalea Music productions, Azalea Blossom, Incorporated, a non-profit 501(c)3 organization responsible for the SAFE through the arts bullying prevention program. Margaret’s careers include working as a freelance flutist in the San Francisco Bay Area and as a public school music and PreK teacher in upstate New York before launching her career in the non-profit sector.
Growing up into a family of professional dancers and educators just outside of New York City on Long Island, Margaret was exposed to the Performing Arts an early age and began writing her own compositions by the age of seven. Having been immersed in Waldorf Education for a decade, Margaret was also engaged in a large variety of performing and visual arts, which was important for her creative careers later in life. During high school, Margaret attended the Manhattan School of Music Preparatory Division Margaret was inspired by her parents, the late Harry Bernstein who was the first male dance graduate from the prestigious Juilliard School and former chairman of the dance department at Adelphi University; and Bunty Kelley Bernstein, a former dancer with Saddler Wells (the Royal Ballet) in London and a soloist with the renowned choreographer Agnes DeMille who also gave Margaret her baby shower. In addition, Margaret was greatly influenced by three power house women growing up all who lived way into their late nineties or beyond: Her beloved Great Aunt Bengie (Katherine Forbes Dunlop) who was the headmistress of the oldest girls’ boarding school in England; Her Godmother, the great Ballet master, Margaret Craske who was also Margaret’s namesake; and her Nana, Catherine Furey, who lived to be the oldest person on Long Island at 110. Margaret has also been greatly inspired by the teachings of the Indian Master Meher Baba.
Margaret’s virtuosity on the flute earned her degrees in music performance from the Oberlin Conservatory where she studied with Robert Willoughby and Arizona State University, the latter which she obtained through a full tuition merit scholarship. Her other influential individual who helped her reach her musical goals include her first flute teacher, Lana Noone; Flutist and composer Katherine Hoover with whom Margaret studied during high school; and George Rose and Jeanette Resnick, her music teachers who gave Margaret her foundation and encouragement in music. Margaret’s many performances include an opera season as flutist and piccoloist with the Albany Symphony’s Shaker Mountain Opera Festival in Pittsfield, Massachusetts and five seasons with the Dance Brigade’s “Nutcracker Sweetie” production in Oakland, California. In addition, Margaret and the Bricks Band, who have performed together in a variety of venues throughout New York State including the Egg Center for Performing Arts in Albany, have been engaged in performing benefit concerts for domestic violence and women’s shelters as part of the Bricks in the Wall project.
Margaret is also the flutist and founding member of the Ensemble “Beguine”, a trio comprised of classically trained performers who are also improvisers and composers. She currently obtains the musician’s post at Christ Church in Duanesburg, New York and is a frequent performer at the Woodstock Jewish Congregation in Woodstock, New York.
Margaret’s flute playing has appeared on over two dozen albums to date. Margaret’s fifth solo album, “Rainwater Runs Deep”, is scheduled to be released on her own Growing Azalea Music label on Friday, April 24th, 2020. Produced by Platinum producer Barb Morrison (Blondie), Rainwater is the second in Margaret’s singer-songwriter trilogy of rain-themed albums succeeding “Distant Thunder”. Her catalog also includes two instrumental albums, “Full Circle” and “On the Threshold Of Change”, which include her performing on both flute and piano on original compositions and her debut singer-songwriter album, “Bricks in the Wall”. She is also a featured flute soloist on a recording produced by Pete Townsend of The Who. Margaret is currently a member of the American Federation of Musicians local #14 and the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP) and also has been a voting member of the Recording Academy (Grammy’s) as well as a member of the National Association of Record Professionals, The National Flute Association, and the Children’s Network.
Her many awards and recognitions for her music include over ten years as a recipient of the ASCAP plus award, a finalist in the instrumental category in the West Coast Songwriter competition, A UNISONG award and a finalist in the Children’s Music category in the Prestigious International John Lennon competition for her song “I Can Be Anything” from her “Songs from SAFE through the arts” CD. Margaret is also the author of two children’s musicals and a full length adult music, “Seed” for which she wrote the book, lyrics and music.
The passion, which Margaret puts into her music, is also evident in her work as an educator and advocate for youth. In 1991, she founded the Youth Sahavas, a retreat for teenagers held annually in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. In 2007, Margaret founded Azalea Blossom, Incorporated, a 501(c)3 nonprofit educational organization dedicated to the awareness, education and prevention of domestic, social and child abuse through the utilization of the creative and performing Arts. Azalea Blossom is responsible for SAFE through the Arts, a violence prevention educational program, which Margaret also created. Originally, SAFE through the arts was designed as a domestic violence educational program for public middle students, which Margaret taught in seven counties throughout New York State. Currently, Margaret directs and instructs SAFE through the arts in PreK, kindergarten and Special Education classes in urban public schools throughout New York’s Capital District and will be launching the program in Brooklyn later this year. Margaret currently works as the Executive Director of Azalea Blossom. In addition, Margaret created the curriculum for the program and additionally was responsible for writing all of the puppet scripts and songs used for the program, which appear on the award winning “Songs from SAFE through the arts”. She also has the role of Intern Supervisor for students from almost a dozen colleges and Universities with whom Margaret shares the inner workings of a non-profit organization.
As an educator, Margaret has taught a total of over ten thousand children in Arizona, California’s Bay Area, Upstate New York and New York City combined. In addition to her over thirty years of teaching private flute and piano lessons, she has worked primarily as a music and PreK teacher in urban and rural schools including four years as a music teacher in one room school houses outside of Petaluma, California and over seven years in the Schenectady City School District, a large urban school district in New York’s Capital Region. As an educator and songwriter, Margaret has written two original children’s musicals, “The Little Seed” and “The Trees’ Song for Peace” as well as songs for children and school choruses, which have been performed at public, private, and charter schools throughout the country. Margaret holds permanent public school teaching certifications in vocal and instrumental music (N-12) and multi-subject classroom teaching (PreK-6) from New York State. She received her educational training from Russel Sage College in Troy, New York and Dominican College in San Rafael, California and is currently a member of the New York State Teacher’s Union.
Margaret is actively involved in all aspects of her careers including writing grants and the production of all of her albums and music videos. Despite her engaging careers, Margaret manages to balance her musical endeavors with her other responsibilities and interests, including hiking, swimming, drawing, floral arranging riding her horse, Reba, playing word games and spending time with her wonderful friends and family members. Margaret splits her time between her Brooklyn, New York and her five-acre-farm in the foothills of the Catskills where she resides with her twelve animals. She is the proud mother of Julian Jacobs, a senior environmental studies and jazz drum performance major at Oberlin College and Conservatory of Music.