Standing near the Iwo Jima Memorial and Arlington National Cemeter, the Netherlands Carillon has one of the best views in the area, overlooking the Potomac River towards Washington, D.C..

Abaad Behram

Meet Abaad

Rockin' Retirement

In the late 1990s, Abaad Behram found himself at a crossroads. He was a talented guitarist who’d always known he wanted to make music for a living. Following his family’s move from India to America when he was 15, he had given it his best shot and had found some success. But his rock career never quite took off the way he’d hoped. As a single dad, Abaad needed a plan B. Enter serendipity, in the form of his son’s school counselor. “You should consider teaching. Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) is piloting a music therapy program you’d be perfect for,” he said. And so began a fulfilling 21-year career with FCPS.

After earning his teaching degree, Abaad taught music therapy at Cedar Lane Elementary School for 12 years. He credits his co-teacher and mentor with helping him learn the ropes in what could be an intense environment.

When the opportunity to earn a master’s in special education from George Mason University arose, Abaad jumped at it. With his new degree in hand, Abaad co-taught eighth-grade civics at Whitman Middle School (MS) with another wonderful mentor.

However, his career took an unexpected hiatus in 2013 when he was diagnosed with throat cancer and took an extended leave to get treatment. After successfully battling cancer, Abaad returned to Whitman. By then his co-teacher had moved to Franklin MS and invited Abaad to join him, saying, “Let’s get the band back together.” That was music to Abaad’s ears, and he finished out his career at Franklin.

Abaad with Bill Danoff
Abaad with Bill Danoff, who wrote "Take Me Home, Country Roads" and "Afternoon Delight"
Abaad and Barbara
Abaad being 'screeched in' 
in Newfoundland, Canada
Abaad at the screening for 
the documentary about his band, Razz

Of teaching, Abaad says, “I loved it. I’m very proud of the fact that all my students’ SOL rates were over 90%. I worked hard to innovate ways to teach kids and motivate them to take it seriously. I loved working with the students.” And the feeling was mutual. “I’ve played many big gigs in my career but being asked by my students to play Back in Black with the Franklin MS band is still a highlight,” he recalls. Weighed against experiences such as opening for AC/DC, playing with the Monkees, and having a documentary made about his band to name a few, that’s saying something.

Abaad playing 'Back in Black' with the Franklin MS band
Abaad playing "Back in Black" with the Franklin MS band

Retirement is the ultimate DIY project. Be you. Set goals.

Abaad Behram

But as a seasoned performer, Abaad knew when to exit the stage. He made the decision to retire in 2019, while he still enjoyed the job and connecting with students. Although he knew the timing was right, as with most transitions, retirement came with some angst. He met with ERFC counselors four times before he felt comfortable with his decision.

Abaad describes retirement as the ultimate DIY project. “Be you. Set goals. Wellness is important,” he advises. His ERFC benefit enabled him to put a down payment on an Airbnb property that provides an additional source of income. And he hasn’t completely hung up his teaching hat. He’s now a homebound social studies instructor with FCPS and also teaches guitar. He still plays with a band several times a year, and he enjoys traveling and finding new adventures with his other half, Barbara.

Abaad counts himself very fortunate to have made a career doing two things he loves, and he plans to keep rocking his retirement well into the future. Who knows? It may turn out to be his best gig yet.