I am accepting new piano students this Fall as so many people start back to school after a lovely long summer break. It’s a wonderful time to learn something new–like piano! Or how to play clarinet, or perhaps the ins and outs of songwriting. Today I have been completing my profile on lessons.com. As part of that, they have given me a little badge to put on my website.
Here are the profile questions I have completed so far:
The first question: How does your service stand out?
Hi I’m Dr. Mary Crowell! The doctorate is in music composition, and I like to bring an abundance of creativity to learning piano and music theory—both mine and my students! I’ve been teaching piano for almost thirty years: at Mary Queen of Mercy School in Montgomery, in the University of Alabama’s Community Music Program, at Andy’s Music in Mobile, AL, at Calhoun Community Music in Tanner, AL, and at home here in Athens, AL. I find there are always new things to learn and new approaches to take, but at the beginning it’s important to know why one’s students have decided to learn about piano.
Many of my students love music in video games and movies. I’ll transcribe music scores for them if there aren’t already any available –or– modify existing ones to fit my students skill levels and make the arrangement sound better on the piano. Some students want to play in their churches and learn how to play hymns and gospel or simply improve. Others would like to explore everything and anything: classical, jazz, blues, rock, etc. I not only help my students learn more of the music they have already discovered but also introduce them to other styles and composers to expand their musical worlds.
I also teach my students music theory—but not as a boring rote memorization of scales, chords, and arpeggios, (although practice is important!) but as tools to unlock the secrets of each piece of music and make it meaningful and more enjoyable. Theory skills open a path for the student to explore music improvisation and composition (although there are wonderful music improvisation games accessible to the newest piano students too!)
I also have a Masters degree in musicology, which means I had to study music history and orchestration. I’ve taught music appreciation at Calhoun Community College to, so I bring a historical perspective to much of the music my students and I work on.
The second question: What do you enjoy about the work you do?
I enjoy finding out what music already brings my students joy and nurturing that joy. I take the time to introduce them to new music that may delight them as well. (I teach classical and other common practice era music as well as jazz and blues.)
I love working with people of all ages to help them empower themselves by learning music skills. For adults, taking up a new creative skill is energizing, satisfying, and sometimes humbling. It can be really hard being a beginner again after having mastered other skills. And as an adult who has taken up knitting, running 5 K’s, learning how to play Overwatch, running a Kickstarter campaign for a music album at different times, I know that having to be new at something is terrifying at times, but it brings so much joy too.
School age students are really fun, because they’ve got the discipline of learning structured materials and turning in their work every day, but they’re also accustomed to learning brand new skills. School age students often introduce me to music I have never heard and now get to explore with them. It’s fun to ask open ended questions about the pieces of music we are working on, and see how they decide to interpret the composer’s intentions.
Teresa Powell, my Three Weird Sister band mates and also a dear friend, will be helping me add an additional section on my main website devoted to my piano studio. Teresa is incredibly good at designing websites. She has also helped create Wendy Kyle McGee’s Providence Studio website.
I will be answering more of the questionnaire and blogging my answers here too.