By Marilyn Miller
Somewhere in a recent conversation, Cindy Richardson Madden was overheard saying, “I’m just a small town piano teacher.”
This “piano teacher” has certainly run the gamut in the world of ebony & ivory, from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. to the backend of a delivery truck rigged out for students in south Webster Parish.
Throughout her 52 years of private piano teaching, her students competed at rallies, hymn competitions, recitals, auditions and more at universities in the four states area. These were sponsored by Area Music Teachers’ Associations, State Music Teachers’ Associations, the National Music Teachers’ Association, as well as National Piano Players Auditions and the National Federation of Music Clubs.
During her nearly 30 years as a chorus teacher at Minden High School, Cindy took her students to many student rallies and always returned home with “excellents” and “superiors.” In 2001, the MHS Crimson Chorus was selected from choirs across the nation to perform on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial for an American Musical Salute Celebrating 225 Years of Independence. Recommendations from university music faculty members and their top scores in competitions earned their selection. The MHS Crimson Chorus also performed “Grease” for the Cultural Crossroads Spring Arts Festival and for the Artist Banquet, which featured Trace Adkins.
Cindy took many students to the Texas Renaissance Festival for many years and produced several Renaissance shows in the Minden area. She also started annual talent shows at Minden High School, Harper Elementary School, and E.S. Richardson Elementary School, which is named for her great uncle, Dr. E. S. Richardson. It gave many students the opportunity to showcase their talents locally. Many of her students have carried their musical talent into adulthood.
Suffice it to say, that no matter what Cindy was teaching, conducting, playing, accompanying, or producing, she gave more than 100 percent to the job.
Cindy is a 1969 graduate of Minden High School. She went on to earn her Bachelor of Arts in Music from Louisiana Tech University and her Master of Arts in Music from Northwestern State University.
For many years, Cindy drove a modified delivery truck, tricked out with electrical wiring, air conditioning, studio lights, and a piano to area schools to teach her students during PE or recess time. She did this for 10 years before being recruited to teach music in the public schools.
She and her husband, Jerry Madden, spent many years as director of music and pianist for the First Baptist Church of Sibley before transferring to First Baptist Church of Minden. During that time Cindy frequently played for revivals, keyboard concerts, weddings, symphonies and more.
But throughout her life of music and service, which started on Nov. 21, 1956 at age five when she and her older sister, Sue Ann Richardson, were elected flag bearers for the Sanders Richardson Society of the Children of the American Revolution, the exploration of her family history was an untapped desire.
Since retiring from public school teaching, she has been fully involved and has joined many heritage organizations, including Magna Charta Dames and Barons. She is president and State Organizing Secretary for the Susan Constant Chapter in Shreveport.
If Cindy’s life was a musical composition, so much of it would be dark tragedy. How does she deal with the death of her son in Iraq at the age of 21, or the suicide of a granddaughter in 2020, or the murder of a grandson in 2021?
The Military Times carried this mention of Jerry and Cindy’s son, Sgt. Joshua B. Madden, in their “Honor The Fallen” news pages:
“Army Spc. Joshua B. Madden died December 6, 2006 during Operation Iraqi Freedom, age 21, of Sibley, La.; assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 27th Infantry, 3rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, Schofield Barracks, Hawaii; died Dec. 6 of injuries sustained when an improvised explosive device detonated near his vehicle while on patrol in Hawijah, Iraq.”
Josh left behind a wife, Dani; and a son, nine-month-old, Jaxon, who just graduated from high school this year.
“First I was in denial,” Cindy said, dabbing at tears. Josh was on his second tour. At the end of his first tour, Josh got to meet tiny Jaxon and “be a daddy for two weeks.” Then he had to return from Hawaii back to Iraq, and both Cindy and Jerry had bad feelings about the coming months.
“When they came and told us, I was in shock,” Cindy said. “I felt like someone hit me (in the chest). It took 10 days to get his body back home. The telling of the Joshua B. Madden story is both chilling and uplifting. And it would take a book to tell it. Perhaps that day will come.
Perhaps the memories of her son, Josh, is why Cindy was instrumental in the acquisition of new signage at Mile Marker 40 on I-20 east, which will be named the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Highway. The dedication will begin at 10 a.m. Friday, May 19 on Hwy. 80 at Fire District 7 station. There will be a luncheon honoring the Armed Forces on Saturday, May 20 at 11 a.m. in the Minden Civic Center. Special guests will be the Vietnam veterans.
“I want to have a chance to thank the Vietnam veterans, because they came and provided an escort for Josh to his grave. They need to be thanked for that,” Cindy said.
There is so much more that can be said of Cindy Richardson Madden. Their travels around the world. Their historic house, complete with “She Shed.” There are certainly more piano and music stories. And then there’s the Foreign Exchange Program. She and her husband were sponsors for six years, and they keep in contact with all of their former students. They assisted one foreign exchange student acquire her GED so she could go back to Poland and enter college. Cindy and Jerry recently traveled to Europe to attend the wedding of another former student.
Cindy is the DAR Chapter Regent and State Chairman for “Service to Veterans.” She is past State Registrar for UDC. She is a Gold Star Mother, involved with the Gold Star Mothers of America. She is “very involved” with the Blue Star Mothers of Monroe.
True, she is a piano teacher. She’s given private piano lessons to many children and adults for over 50 years.
But “just” a piano teacher??
Yep, and King Kong was “just” a monkey…