Marsha grew up on a farm on the outskirts of Allentown, PA, in rural Pennsylvania Dutch Country. Her family came to the Philadelphia area in the mid 1700s. Descended from great, great uncles who were soldiers in the Civil War’s Bucktail Regiment and gypsy fortunetellers and artists living off the land that they farmed, her lineage is historic and colorful.
The youngest of three children, she began playing piano when she was five. Her mother, a gifted musician, was the local church pianist. In third grade, when given the opportunity to choose an instrument to study, her parents insisted on the saxophone.
But she didn’t limit her studies to sax. She also studied flute, clarinet, voice, and guitar while continuing her study of piano. Each year she was selected to participate in district and countywide festivals and played with local rock bands in high school. When she saw Phil Woods perform in nearby Reading, PA, she knew then that saxophone was what she would pursue in life.
Marsha continued studying classical saxophone with David Bilger and classical piano with his wife, Doreen Bilger. Awarded several prestigious scholarships, Marsha began her undergraduate work at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia and received a Bachelor of Music in 1991. She also holds a Masters in Music Education from the Aaron Copland School of Music.
She has studied privately with Eric Person, Ron Kerber, John Blake, Larry McKenna, Jim Pugh, John Stubblefield, and Sir Roland Hanna. In June 2002, the Brooklyn Conservatory of Music’s Professional Development Fund awarded her a grant to study with the renowned Jimmie Amadie.