Buy Now


Music Fills The World Of Mike And Deb Rosbarsky
Montana Senior News, February/March 2015
“All we need is music, sweet music, there’ll be music everywhere.”

That line from the Motown 60‘s-era hit Dancing in the Streets, aptly describes the life of Mike and Deb Rosbarsky. Without doubt, music fills their world. Get them talking about their favorite topic and energy bursts into every corner of the conversation.
“If there ever will be peace in the world, it will be through music. It touches everyone’s heart, soul, and brain,” says Deb. “Hopefully it will bring them all together.”
“I think music is the voice of the soul. It’s our language because we’re both so involved with it. Making music is as important as anything else in my life,” adds Mike, who proposed to Deb 19 years ago. “It’s a part of who we are—a part of every day that’s as integral to us as eating and breathing.”
If the twosome aren’t playing music at home, they are certainly listening to it. A glance at the Rosbarskys’ voluminous CD library proves that point. You see everything from Janis Joplin and the Beatles to Bach and Beethoven with a whole lot of Debussy and Dave Brubeck going on.
Mike and Deb both grew up in Montana with parents who adored music and they credit their upbringing with forging their future. Their parents sang, played various instruments, brought them to hear performances, and encouraged them to take lessons.
“I’ve been eternally grateful they forced me to stay with the piano lessons,” recalls Mike, who quickly became adept at improvising tunes and identifying the unique sound of every musical instrument he heard.
Totaled together, Deb and Mike have participated in the Missoula-area music scene for some 50 years. Currently, Mike sings with the Missoula Symphony Chorale and the Missoula Community Choir. In addition, he and Deb play in the Missoula City Band and the Missoula Community Band.
Deb’s talents include the clarinet, various saxophones, flute, and euphonium. Mike also plays the euphonium in addition to piano. Although adept at all those instruments, clearly the euphonium, which resembles a small tuba, is the favorite child in their musical household.
“The sound of a tuba-euphonium ensemble is amazingly beautiful. Kind of like hearing a top-notch professional men’s choir,” says Mike.
To the untrained ear, the two instruments sound alike. However, to the Rosbarskys, the differences are distinct yet subtle. As Deb points out, “You can tell they’re related but you know they’re different. It’s like comparing beefsteak and grape tomatoes.”
“The tuba has a dark warm sound. The euphonium has a richer mellower sound. You can play anything on them since they’re both versatile,” explains Mike. “They have different ranges but their flavors are similar.”
Coincidentally, neither Deb nor Mike intended to teach music but both ended up as band and music instructors in Missoula-area public schools. Many a parent has them to thank for instilling a love of music in their children.
“I was surprised I got paid to teach; it was so much fun,” recalls Mike, who was a longtime fixture at Hellgate Elementary School. Affectionately known as Rosy by just about every student who ever sat in one of his classes, Mike also arranges and composes scores.
“The first time I had a major piece performed, it felt like I was standing in front of the audience with no clothes on,” he confesses. “It amazes me that I can compose music that brings tears to people’s eyes by my conveying an emotion with sound. But I have no idea why I compose. If I don’t, I just get uncomfortable.”
“Actually, he gets cranky,” clarifies Deb, who never intended to become a music instructor after college graduation. As she tells it, a music career was decided for her through circumstance. “I fought it tooth and nail. But I kept turning around and being involved with music.” She ended up teaching music to every grade in the St. Ignatius and Charlo school systems. And as it turned out, regrets were the last thing Deb felt about her career in the classroom.
“I liked watching the students’ successes happen; the energy they had then was so positive. First it was getting a sound out of the instrument that others don’t mind hearing. Then it was learning to read music and finally performing in a group,” says Deb. “I loved hooking the kids to play things they thought they wouldn’t like, such as jazz. The most important thing I taught them, though, was that music is fun. It’s work—nothing comes easily that’s really good—but it’s also dignified play.”
Mike heartily concurs. “It’s so satisfying to teach kids how to play an instrument and to express themselves. I enjoyed watching them grow and learn and become good band members. They taught me how much you can trust kids to do by themselves.”
When it comes to giving advice to aspiring musicians, they share a similar approach.
“Find a good mentor to encourage and inspire you. Not necessarily someone who plays the same instrument but who feels the passion,” says Deb.
“Mentors put an arm around you when times are tough. Instructors don’t,” adds Mike. “They help you see that you aren’t drowning.”
As far as Deb and Mike are concerned, there could not be a better place in the state for people wanting to learn to play music or listen to it or jam together. Between the Garden City’s many concerts, restaurants, and bars opportunities abound. And in the summer, when bands and ensembles take to the outdoors, the Rosbarskys are happy to report that you will also see dancing in the streets.