Mary Eileen Johnston (aka “MEJ: the other Music Educators’ Journal”) is a lifelong resident of the Philadelphia suburbs. “Grown” into her profession as a Church music leader, her early years in music were kindled lovingly by her own parish church Organist. At an early age, piano lessons, children’s choral work, organ studies and multi-instrumental instruction laid the solid foundation for her life as a musician.
After completing university studies at Immaculata and West Chester, the groundwork as music educator and music therapist were put to work with directorships in nursing homes and a school for the blind.
As a young mother, applying music therapy to lullabye time, Mary Eileen developed the “Art of Lulling,” a concept encouraging caregivers to sing to babies by vocal replication of intrauterine sounds (“shh,” “lala,” “baba,” etc.) The renaissance of this art was explored in published articles, lectures, concerts, and a recording.
While working with the blind at the piano, a link with Louis Braille was discovered. Braille, himself blind and an organist, developed the first tactile mode of communication for the visually impaired. Mary Eileen introduced her “Piano Braille” into music therapy sessions, coupling the pentatonic scale and Braille typing for a new musical “code”!
Today, as Dean of the Southeastern Pennsylvania Chapter of the American Guild of Organists, her zest for the life of music itself is inherent in her very style and event planning!
For “fun,” she wields an accordion in a German Band and an Argentinean Tango group. She was a choir member for the Philadelphia Archdiocesan Papal visit, and is on an organ building team in Delaware. She continues to enjoy networking in all areas music, especially organ and music-and-dance.
Her regular organist duties take her to a variety of both sacred and secular spaces for ministry and performance in solo and ensemble.