Maria Whitley began her professional life in the world of theatre. To supplement her acting career, she took on jobs in the “real world” that all had profound effects on her. Working with the Administrative Director of New School Concerts in New York City (now the Schneider Concerts), Maria organized a chamber music concert series that featured, among others, the Guarneri String Quartet and the Eroica Trio. She was also involved in organizing the New York String Orchestra Seminar, under the direction of Alexander Schneider, which brought together the country’s finest young orchestra students, aged 16-21, to perform at Carnegie Hall. So began her love of chamber music.
After acting for a year at the Cincinnati Playhouse, Maria returned to New York and worked in several departments at the national headquarters of the Episcopal Church USA. There she gained insight into what charitable giving can give back to the giver.
Just after marrying Gregg Rochman in 1996, Maria worked at the Circle in the Square Theatre in the Development office during its short-lived rebirth as a membership-driven theatre. The idea of $10 tickets for a Broadway show, of course, was completely in line with Maria’s firm belief that the arts should be for everyone.
After spending her first married summer in love and unemployed, Maria joined the staff at American Camp Association where she learned the joys of summer camp by visiting over 100 day and sleepaway camps throughout the Northeast. As Director of the Public Guidance Service, she talked to parents about their children, and then recommended camps in which she thought that these children would thrive. Maria also gave birth to her first son during this time and that is when her focus turned to Early Childhood.
While living in South Salem, NY, she took her then 15-month old to his first Music Together class and walked out the door thinking, “I should be doing this.” She trained and began teaching in 2001. It quickly became clear to her that she had found her calling. Teaching Music Together gave Maria the chance to bring together her love of music, children and being really silly. In the Spring of 2004 she founded Rocklee Music Together in South Salem. She began with two classes serving 20 families. Soon she opened a second location in Pound Ridge and then a third in Bedford Village. In the winter of 2006, she added three additional locations in Armonk, Chappaqua and Mount Kisco. By Spring 2007, Rocklee Music Together had over 200 families singing, dancing and wiggling together.
Now, Maria is thrilled to have the opportunity to offer Music Together in her new hometown of Louisville at Shine.
Maria was awarded Music Together Certification Level I status in 2003, having demonstrated outstanding achievement in teaching, musicianship, program philosophy, and parent education. The award was granted by the Center for Music and Young Children in Princeton, NJ.