The Gift of Music

Katherine Tepperman Bukstein’s passion for music was nurtured by her father, who filled the family home with opera and the classics and taught her to waltz at the age of 8. “He made music part of my life,” she said. To mark the significance of his gift to her, Katherine has made a gift of her own: the naming of a practice room at the Performing Arts Center in his memory.

Katherine, who graduated from Scripps in 1974 with a degree in modern European history, said she didn’t “go the music route” at Scripps, but between studies did manage to play the piano in Toll Hall. As a child, she studied piano and cello, and at 15, began playing the viola in the Palo Alto Chamber Orchestra, a local youth orchestra.

She was attracted to Scripps because of its serenity, which she admits was unusual for an 18-year-old. “I wanted to read great books, and I didn’t want to be distracted.” One of her mentors at Scripps, Professor Neal Brogden, was an advocate of the Socratic method. “You just didn’t fail to do your reading,” said Katherine. “You were expected to defend your learning rather than just spit back facts. I came out of Scripps with a great, well-rounded education.”

After moving with her husband back to the Bay Area and starting a family, Katherine returned to music, with gusto. In 1997, she earned a master’s of music in viola performance with an emphasis in chamber music from San Francisco State University, where she was a student of Paul Yarbrough of the Alexander String Quartet. “Having a knowledge of history, literature, sociology, and political science, made studying music much richer for me; I was able to make many connections.” A high-energy individual, she also admits to having been a “heavy duty soccer mom” at the time. (Today, her son is 23, and her daughter is a junior at Bucknell.)

Katherine has also turned her talents to teaching. She earned a teaching credential in music at the College of Notre Dame in Belmont, CA, and currently is a middle school instrumental string teacher in the San Carlos School District. She gives private instruction as well. “At the end of the day, I revel in the improvement I hear. I’m not striving for my students to be perfect. I want them to love music. If they love it, they’ll keep doing it.”

Katherine continues to make music herself. She is a member of the Redwood Symphony and is an avid chamber musician. Each summer, she returns to Scripps to be part of the San Diego Chamber Music Workshop on campus. This fall, she attended the dedication of the Performing Arts Center, on October 4. She saw the practice room with her father’s name, Marvin T. Tepperman, on a plaque inside.

“I have a tremendous, passionate connection to Scripps,” she said. “My dad loved to visit me here. His love of music and learning make this room in his memory seem very fitting.”