She Gave Children the Gift of Music

Monday, January 19, 2009

Lisa Flaxman, 43, the founder of a Washington area music program for infants and young children called musiKids, died Jan. 14 of breast cancer at her home in Chevy Chase.

Ms. Flaxman created musiKids in 1998 when she couldn't find a music class for her infant son that combined early childhood music education with a dynamic teaching approach. At musiKids, she relied on professional musicians and experienced early childhood educators who encouraged children to sing, play, listen and move. The organization originally was based at Chevy Chase Baptist Church and now has studio locations in Bethesda, Rockville and the District, along with several area satellites. MusiKids teaches more than 500 children a week.

Families Magazine and the lilaguide, among other publications, rated musiKids the best children's music education provider in the Washington area.

Ms. Flaxman also helped schools and day-care centers evaluate their early childhood music programs and provided teacher training and guidance to integrate music into the curriculum.

Lisa Judith Flaxman was born in Providence, R.I., and received her undergraduate degree in history and international relations from Brown University in 1987. She worked for a publisher in Princeton, N.J., before taking a position in 1988 as a paralegal at Arnold & Porter, a D.C. law firm. She later worked as a consultant on linguistic programs at Booz Allen Hamilton.

After receiving her law degree in 1994 from Georgetown University, she worked as a tax and estate associate at Dow Lohnes until the birth of her first child in 1997.

Ms. Flaxman studied classical piano and had sung in professional theater companies since age 5. Her repertoire included opera, art song, musical theater, folk, and children's world music. In the Washington area, she performed with the Washington Savoyards, the Washington Chorus and the Bethesda Community Theatre. She was a member of Temple Sinai, where she sang in the chorus and served on the music committee.

She was named one of Maryland's Top 100 Women in 2007 and in 2006 received the first Women Business Owners of Montgomery County Sapphire Award, acknowledging a woman in business for at least five years who gives back to the community. She also received a 2007 Maryland Top Innovator Award for founding musiKares, a nonprofit program dedicated to building music libraries and providing musical programs for Georgetown Hospital patients to help relieve their anxiety.

She was the author of a collection of poetry, "Glances at Time: A Young Mother's Journey with Breast Cancer," in 2008 and created an anthology of Georgetown Hospital patients' writing titled "Lombardi Voice." She wrote many articles on early childhood music and development.

Survivors include her husband of 16 years, Jonathan Martel of Chevy Chase; and three children, Benjamin Martel, Sophie Martel and Zachary Martel, all of Chevy Chase.

-- Joe Holley

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