Barbara Jeanne Shultz Martin

1939 -

Barbara Martin, a pianist and songwriter, has played piano in and written music for use in children's divisions for over three decades. She has also written songs as an aid for learning adult memory verses.

Barbara was born in Bradford, Pennsylvania, the second oldest of five children of Courtney Lyle and Alice Frances Scott Shultz. Although both parents were not musicians, they were musical and eager to give their children opportunities for music study. All of the children would learn to play instruments and participated in school music groups. Barbara would be active in music throughout her life and her older brother, Dan, would pursue a career in music.

She started lessons on piano at age eight and two years later began playing for the children's division in Sabbath School, where her mother was the leader. She continued piano lessons for eight years and also studied cello when she entered high school.

Both she and her sister Dee, who had also taken piano lessons and then viola in high school, played in the school orchestra along with their brother Dan, who played the oboe. Two younger brothers, Lawrence and Louis, played tuba in bands their brother conducted in the 1960s.

Following graduation from high school in 1957, she enrolled in the nursing program at Atlantic Union College, completing her training in 1960. She completed a B.S. in nursing at Columbia Union College, now Washington Adventist University, in 1963 and then taught in that program for four years. During that time she married Gary Martin, in 1964, and in 1967 they moved to Washington state, where she continued working as a nurse.

Music continued as a strong interest and after a son, Daniel, and daughter, Sheli, were born in 1969 and 1972, respectively, Martin became deeply involved in the children's divisions as a teacher and pianist. She recently wrote:

While working with the children in Sabbath School I found they responded with enthusiasm when music was used, so I started to set different parts, such as the greeting, transitions, finger plays, and closing, to music. This use of music helped create a happy and cooperative atmosphere. During this time I also started writing songs and melodies for the memory verses they learned each week and found that they remembered them so much better when set to music.

In 1988, the Martins moved to Texas, where she was director of nursing at Kermit Memorial Hospital until 1990, when they moved to Oklahoma Academy in Harrah, Oklahoma, where their children were students. From 1991 to 1996, they resided in Utah, Tennessee, and Georgia.

During this time, Martin worked in the children's divisions in Sabbath Schools and continued writing music, eventually creating over 125 songs and over 135 settings for Bible verses and chapters. She has also set Ellen White quotations and poems to music and so far has written over forty arrangements of this type.

In the 1990s, when the Martins were living in Tennessee and she was working as a staff nurse at the Jellico Community Hospital, she started setting adult division Bible memory verses to music and led out in their introduction and use. The adults were delighted with the results, with one of the hospital administrators observing he hadn't learned a memory verse since he had been in the primary division, but this approach had helped immensely.

When she contacted the General Conference Sabbath School department about her project, they responded with interest. However, when the Martins returned to the Pacific Northwest in the late 1990s, she didn't pursue the idea any further.

Both of their children were active in music groups at the secondary and college level and continue today as amateur musicians. Three of their grandchildren are orchestral string players.


Sources: Information provided by Barbara Shultz Martin, September 2011 and January 2012; personal knowledge.