Symphonic music involves the creative blending of diverse instruments into a unified work. Life, in many ways, is like a symphony—a blending of diverse elements in pursuit of a harmonious whole.


As an accomplished musician and mother of eight, Cynthia Richards, the 2012 Utah Mother of the Year, knows a lot about blending many elements into a cohesive life, finding ways to weave her passions for both music and motherhood into a successful whole.



Richards, who serves as the first chair violinist in the Utah Valley Symphony, taught all of her eight children to play music. Each of them learned to play piano and another concert instrument with the help of Richards. A few of her children have gone on to become professional musicians.


Yet Richards does not consider herself to be a “tiger mom.” For her, teaching her children music was more like sharing a gift and helping them enjoy a more “complete life.” Richards didn’t expect her children to become prodigies (though she admits pushing children to excel is tempting). Instead, Richards hoped to teach her children much more than music as she worked with them in the practice room.


Richards explained that through music she was able to help her children learn principles like hard work, tenacity, and persistence. She was also able to grow herself. From her experiences, she has written a book entitled “How to Get Your Child to Practice… Without Resorting to Violence!!”


“You have to remember what your goal is. Is it to be superior? Famous? Or is it to create a worthwhile human being [who’s] going to contribute to society, contribute to [his or her] own family, and creatively serve?” Richards said of her philosophy in teaching children about music and about life.


Richard shared that her goal for herself as a mother was to raise children who would go on to have successful families of their own and who would be able to “go after their own passions and excel in them.”


However, she said, “You don’t know how good you were as a parent until you find out how your grandchildren turn out.”


Now a grandparent of 34, Richards feels that her children are doing well as parents. She said the grandchildren are turning out great.


As Richards has entered the grandparent stage of life, she has more time to focus on her own music. While raising her children, she often chose to place music as a lower priority, sometimes learning just a few measures of music per day.


Currently, Richards is playing with the Utah Valley Symphony as their concert mistress. She is also teaching music to students of all ages. In these ways, she continues to share her love of music, just as she shared it with her children. As the 2012 Utah Mother of the Year, Richards will take on the additional responsibilities of speaking and standing for motherhood and family values, adding another passage of music to the symphony of her life.


By Sierra Wilson
Photography courtesy Cynthia Richards