Betsy Marlene Ross

1947 -

Betsy Ross, a pianist, taught music privately and at four colleges in a career that has spanned over forty years. She has also studied Scottish folk music and performed for eighteen summers at the Ozark Folk Center on Scottish harp, autoharp, and concertina.

Ross was born and raised in Hinsdale, Illinois, the only child of Nellie and Lowell Ross. Her parents were involved with music, her father singing in the Hinsdale Seventh-day Adventist church choir for over thirty years and her mother playing piano and recordings of classical orchestral music in the home.

When her parents heard her playing Elgar's Pomp and Circumstance by ear on the piano with both hands at age seven, they started her on piano lessons. When she was in the fifth grade, the band director, impressed with her musical ability and good ear, started her on French horn.

Ross sang in the choir at Hinsdale Junior Academy and before that in the Hinsdale SDA church junior choir, receiving what she later described as excellent choral training under Joseph Creanza, who was also Dean of Chicago Musical College of Roosevelt University. After two years at HJA, she transferred to Broadview Academy, where she continued to sing in the choir and took piano lessons from Robert Pound.

Following graduation from BA in 1965, Ross enrolled at Andrews University as a music major, a career choice she had made while still in academy. After two years at AU, she transferred to the Chicago Musical College, where she studied piano under Goldie Golub and completed a B.Mus. in piano performance in 1970. She continued study with Golub and a year later graduated with honors from CMC with an M.Mus.

In 1977 she was the first woman to be awarded a scholarship at the Grandfather Mountain Highland Games in North Carolina. This longstanding annual event has been described as one of the best folk festivals in the country and was selected in 2004 by the National Geographic Traveler Magazine as one of the twenty "must see" events in North America.

The GMHG scholarship provided for a full year of study at Edinburgh University in Scotland. During that year, Ross studied at the School of Scottish Studies, doing fieldwork in Kinloch Rannoch, where her grandmother had been born.

Upon her return to the U.S., she completed her M.A. in music history in 1979 at Claremont Graduate School, now Claremont Graduate University, in California, having finished the coursework for it from 1974 to 1976. She completed a Ph.D. in musicology from Claremont in 1992. Her dissertation, inspired by her earlier work in Scotland, was titled Writings About Scotland's Music: An Annotated Bibliography.

Ross's teaching experiences included working as an adjunct teacher at Southern Adventist University during the spring semester of 1977 and also at La Sierra and Redlands universities in the 1980s while she was working on her doctorate. From 1994 to 2004 she was an assistant professor at Lyon College in Batesville, Arkansas, teaching piano. From 2000 on, she also taught musicianship and accompanied the choir.

From the age of eleven, Ross has been involved in church music, playing piano for church and Sabbath school at Hinsdale and most recently in Mountain View, Arkansas, for the Adventist church. While working on her second master's degree and doctorate at Claremont, every weekend found her in Loma Linda singing in the University church choir and playing piano for rehearsals when David Banta and later Kimo Smith were absent. She has been the paid pianist at the First United Methodist Church in Mountain View for over twenty years.

Today, Ross maintains a private piano studio for selected students. She also works as an Independent Distributor for Reliv International, helping persons with their health and finances.


Source: Information provided by the Betsy Ross, June and November 2010 and May 2013; Grandfather Mountain Highland Games website; Reliv, International website.