Parent You Should Know: Sara Barthol
Link Tanzio is 10 years old and already quite a music wonder. He has played piano since he was 5, guitar for the past few years, and lately, has taken up the clarinet and ukulele.
He may get some of this from his mom, of course, who plays flute and piano.
Sara Barthol says Link showed a predilection for music ever since he was 3, when she and her parents took him to a performance of “Straight No Chaser” in Hershey. “He was tapping his knee in time with the music,” recalls Barthol, 41. “That was the biggest clue — the earliest moment I can remember.”
Link takes in-person lessons at a Music & Arts store in Broomall and has done so for years. During the pandemic, he kept up with them via Zoom. Link and Sara (who is divorced) live in nearby Springfield. Prior to the onset of COVID, he attended a local public school but has since moved to a private one, where he is in fifth grade.
Sara, who grew up in Reeders in the Poconos, works part-time as a law clerk writing disability appeal briefs while studying for the bar exam, which she plans to take in February. That’s also Link’s birthday month, when the music aficionado will turn 11.
What do you relish most about watching your son learn, especially when it comes to music?
I enjoy the excitement and joy he gets from exploring his passions, whether it’s art, music, theater, math, science, programing his own video games, scouts, robotics or anything else. I try to let him explore an interest as much as possible so he can decide what he likes the most vs. limiting exploration to a few things. With music, I encouraged him to start on piano because learning to read both treble and bass clefs would open up almost any instrument he might like to learn. Little did I know it would lead to four instruments, in addition to singing and dabbling with both music composition and transposition at his age, but it has been fun to see him dive in and take pride in his accomplishments.
What are some of the challenges of parenting post-COVID?
I wouldn’t say that we’re post-COVID yet. With activities largely back to pre-pandemic formats, families who are still trying to engage in mitigation efforts for any reason can find it challenging to balance exposure risks, engagement in activities they enjoy and scheduling when Zoom-based lessons are still available. With music and theater, the use of Zoom can work for one-on-one sessions but is still somewhat limited, while playing and/or singing as a larger group isn’t possible due to signal-transmission delays inherent in Internet communication. While many got creative with production efforts for group performances, that is not ideal for students who are new to an instrument. I think parents are still juggling all of these concerns, especially with the current mix of illnesses floating around right now.
Name some of the places you and Link enjoy going to on the weekends for fun.
Our schedule is pretty packed with Link’s various activities, so often weekends are just me shuttling Link to robotics, music lessons and theater rehearsals. When we do get a chance to do something different, it’s usually spending time with family and sometimes during warmer weather going to local parks with friends. Pre-pandemic, we would also go to places like the Franklin Institute. Currently, if we’re not out and about for a specific activity, he may meet up with friends both online and in person, or we run errand and relax at home since we have such a busy schedule.
What is the best-kept secret of Philadelphia when it comes to kids?
I’m constantly discovering interesting new opportunities from friends and acquaintances. I think that’s a big benefit to raising kids here; there’s so much variety that no matter what types of passions you or your children have or what level of skill someone is at, there’s room to engage in those interests and find others who enjoy them, too.
Mac & Cheese
Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream
(an artisan ice-cream company headquartered in Columbus, Ohio)
“It’s Gonna Be Okay”
by The Piano Guys
Christmas is our joint favorite because of the time spent with family and exchanging gifts (although Sara personally has an affinity for Halloween)
Ocean City, Md., or Columbus, Ohio (where they have family)