P. Thomas Tallarico
1937 - 2021
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(News story) P. Thomas Tallarico, a music education pioneer at Bowling Green State University known cordially as "Dr. T" to many of his students, died March 12 at Hospice of Northwest Ohio in Perrysburg. He was 84.

Mr. Tallarico succumbed to cancer after several years, said his wife, JoAnn.

Born to Italian immigrants Tom and Ruth Tallarico on Jan. 8, 1937, in Arnold, Pa., Mr. Tallarico became the first member of his family to obtain a college degree, and he held a passion for teaching music throughout the rest of his life.

Mr. Tallarico was musically inclined from an early age, carrying a particular affinity for jazz and classical music.

He married the former JoAnn Schnitzki in 1964, and she said he always intended to pursue a career in music education.

"His grandfather bought him his first saxophone and told him he should take up music lessons, and that was the start of it - he never put it down," his wife said.

Mr. Tallarico, who served in the Army and Army Reserve, had a great influence on music curriculum throughout his 42-year career, during which he rose to be chairman of the Department of Music Education at BGSU.

Though he landed in higher education, Mr. Tallarico began his career teaching at an elementary school in Butler, Pa., and always had an affinity for helping children discover music.

His revolutionary "lab schools" - which he started at St. Patrick of Heatherdowns in Toledo, St. Aloysius in Bowling Green, and two locations in Wichita, Kan. - helped expand quality music education to students, most of whom grew to adore the gentle way he taught playing an instrument.

Further, he was an early adopter of technology in music, embracing new ways that he viewed as valuable tools to teach students, said his son, Patrick.

"He did a lot of stuff with early synthesized music, but also musical instruments that promoted education and learning," Patrick Tallarico said. "The kind of things like automated pianos that helped you play along, he tried to integrate that into his educational programs when that stuff was just emerging."

Mr. Tallarico's programs were particularly influential at Toledo-area Catholic schools, though he was also interested in music education research, publishing several papers focused on memory and how to teach children so that their memories were reinforced as they learned to play.

After he retired in 2001, former students frequently reached out to thank him for molding their school years.

Mr. Tallarico played several wind instruments such as saxophone and clarinet, and often performed locally.

"He went to jazz camp himself to see if he was good enough," his wife said. "And when he was sure he was, he entered the circuit."

He performed at Rusty's Jazz Club, the River Raisin Jazz Festival, and other locations throughout the area.

A lifelong fan of all things Pittsburgh - including a devotee of the Pirates and Steelers - Mr. Tallarico's family laughed as they recalled the time he built a homemade antenna just so he could listen to radio broadcasts from KDKA out of the Steel City.

Surviving are his wife, JoAnn Tallarico; son, Patrick Tallarico; daughter, Heather Radwanski; brother, Richard Tallarico; sister, Jackie Stockfish, and three grandchildren.

Visitation will be 6 to 8 p.m. Tuesday at Sujkowski Walker Funeral Home, 830 Lime City Road, Rossford. A funeral Mass will be 10:30 a.m. Wednesday at All Saints Catholic Church, 628 Lime City.

The family suggests tributes to the BGSU department of music education or to Hospice of Northwest Ohio.

This is a news story by Nicholas Piotrowicz. Contact him at npiotrowicz@theblade.com or on Twitter @NickPiotrowicz.
Published in The Blade on Mar. 15, 2021.
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3 entries
March 16, 2021
Heather, I am very sorry to hear about your Dad. Keeping you all in my prayers.
Kelly Meis
March 15, 2021
My heartfelt prayers go out to Dr. T.'s family during this difficult time. He was my FAVORITE teacher while I worked on my masters at BGSU. As my thesis advisor, we had many long meetings in which I could count on him to be honest and fair in his critique of my writing, while also keeping a bit of humor in the whole thing. I went on to have a 40 year career in music education and I thank him for his role in preparing me for it. God Bless. Anita (Pozzanghera) Kowalski
Anita (Pozzanghera) Kowalski
Student
March 15, 2021
We met Pat and JoAnn during our winter stays in The Villages, Florida. We became very good friends enjoying eating out and Pat and I enjoyed bench sitting while the ladies shopped. Pat and I did play some pickle ball and tennis a few times. Great friends and we are praying for this family
Joe Walters
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