music workshop

Music Workshop: filling a void

Portland-based music education program, which assists teachers in thousands of schools around the world, is expanding in scope and diversity, and helping schools cope with the pandemic’s challenges

Even though she’s not a professional musician, music made all the difference in Amy Richter’s life. When she was growing up in Beaverton in the late 1970s and ‘80s, her music-loving father, who frequently traveled for work, would bring back new albums —  classical, blues, country, bluegrass, rock — he’d pick up from Tower Records or Music Millennium, and play them for himself and his daughter. 

“That was our time to really connect,” Richter remembers. 

The ardor for music he ignited in her found more fuel in school and private lessons for voice and piano. Later diagnosed as dyslexic, she found that studying music helped her learn and succeed in ways conventional classwork couldn’t. Richter sang in many musical theater productions before graduating from Beaverton High School, then attended Whittier College on a voice scholarship, double majoring in music and psychology.

“Music helped me be successful in school and fueled my creativity,” she says. “It gave me strength and a lot of confidence.”  

That confidence powered a successful career — not in music therapy, as she’d intended when she went to college, but in marketing, after she scored a plum job offer right out of school and rapidly ascended.

Founder Amy Richter teaching Music Workshop at Raleigh Hills K-8 school in 2013. Photo: Amira Dughri.

Then, about a decade ago, a couple of big changes prompted a new course. Around the time Richter’s children were moving into elementary school, her father died. “I’d been doing some soul searching after my father passed,” reminiscing about how important the love of music he and her school studies instilled in her had been in her own success, culminating at Adidas. And she looked forward, envisioning similar inspiration in her own two young children.