West Oak Lane music school aims to offer life lessons

Music is a universal language, and Eva Donaldson is on a mission to translate for her community.

That is why she decided to open the Eva Donaldson School of Music nearly eight years ago. Located near Ogontz Ave. and Tulpehocken St., the school offers affordable music lessons to students ranging in age from three to 93.

Donaldson wanted a way to show students the different elements of music.

“When I was about 6 or 7 years old, and I was taking music lessons, I could only play Bach and Chopin,” Donaldson said. “One day, I would have my own music school where I could play all styles of music because I thought there was more to it than just Bach and Chopin.”

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Today, lessons are offered in piano, organ, saxophone, violin, cello, trombone, french horn, recorder, percussion instruments, trumpet, guitar and vocals. The school also has an orchestra, which Donaldson leads for free.

Music as a life lesson

Kenneth Wilson, an instructor at the school, explained how music applies to other facets of life.

“It challenges kids to use the basics of mathematics, reading, and comprehension,” Wilson said. “It gives them the ability to go into their school and think with the right side of their brain.

“When we teach the kids how to play, we also teach them how to play together, and it gives them the tools of basically being a union and working together. The lessons they learn here transcend into any other activity, whether it be sports, academics, social life, church life or political life. They learn to work with others as well as to showcase their individual skills.”

Donaldson is not the only member of her family who is spreading music throughout their community. Her son, Robert Jackson, who teaches drums at the school, also plays in a band. He plays live concerts at Victoria’s Kitchen, located directly next door to the music school.


Kimmy Flanders is a student at Temple University. Philadelphia Neighborhoods, a NewsWorks content partner, is an initiative of the Temple Multimedia Urban Reporting Lab.

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