Vilma Barr: “I’ll Never Retire!”

Note: In between the paragraphs I have posted some of the items in Vilma Barr’s MusicWare catalog.


I love interviewing women with a passion for life, like Vilma Barr, a Philadelphian I met a few weeks ago at a music conference where my older daughter had a booth. When I talked with her at her booth, MusicWare, I had the feeling that she was a dynamic person I wanted to know better.

At our outdoor lunch the other day, over some delicious Thai food in Narberth, Vilma told me that her “real job” was as a contributing editor to U.S.and international commercial design and lighting magazines. A graduate of Drexel University in marketing management, she also received a special degree in urban planning and design from M.I.T. (Very impressive!)

But writing is where she shines. Vilma said that writing just comes naturally to her. However, her hobby is choral singing and she has participated in choral festivals for many years. According to an article by Robin L. Perry on Chorus America’s website and their recent study, “an estimated 32.5 million adults regularly sing in choruses today, up from 23.5 million estimated in 2003. And when children are included, there are 42.6 million Americans singing in choruses in 2009. More than 1 in 5 households have at least one singing family member, making choral singing the most popular form of participation in the performing arts for both adults and children.

That’s good news because singing in one of the 270,000 choruses in the U.S., such as a community chorus or a school or church choir, is strongly correlated with qualities that are associated with success throughout life, the study finds. Greater civic involvement, discipline, and teamwork are just a few of the attributes fostered by singing with a choral ensemble.” (Source:

So Vilma’s love for singing brought her a second “career.” It started innocently enough when she attended The Berkshire Choral Festival in Sheffield, MA. She purchased a “musical” sleepshirt printed with oversized notes in a shop in nearby Great Barrington. Fellow singers wanted the sleepshirt too, but it was not available. She was encouraged to make and sell a similar item and others with musical themes.  For the past seven or eight years, Vilma has done just that, creating a wonderful catalog for music lovers, including jewelry, musical motif potholders, tote bags, scarves, t-shirts, and even musical motif business card cases. (To see her full line of items, please go to Currently, Vilma is a member of The Masterworks Chorale, based in Havertown, PA. In addition to her “regular” job and MusicWare, she continues to love her choral connections.


What I enjoyed about Vilma is that her enthusiasm for her writing as well as her hobby-turned-business is that just because she qualifies as a “senior citizen,” she still has the energy and desire to continue both with her writing and her music sideline. In addition, she has authored and co-authored several books on design. One available currently from Amazon is The Illustrated Room: 20th Century Interior Design Rendering (Hardcover) by Vilma and Dani Antman.

My hat’s off to Vilma for her continued enthusiasm for her work as a writer and her hobby business of MusicWare. As Vilma noted in our conversation, “People love to sing!”

P.S. For those of you in the Philadelphia area, the Applause Shop at the Kimmel Center carries MusicWare’s hoodies, jewelry, and aprons. Also, Calliope Music in Ardmore has aprons and potholders from the MusicWare line.

Coincidentally, I was in the library and saw a display of books with the sign: March is National Craft and Hobby Month. Interviewing Vilma this month was perfect timing.  I plan to share my latest hobby with you soon.




7 thoughts on “Vilma Barr: “I’ll Never Retire!”

  1. Beautiful story. I still say, “You’re amazing!” Look at all the talent there is in America. Great
    to hear that so many people are in choral groups. I didn’t have a good voice, but I was in the
    high school glee club for four years.

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