As a teacher, Mark likes to work with the interests of my students, while also encouraging them to further explore the endless possibilities of music making, taking an integrated approach to composition, improvisation and performance.
He once attended a masterclass with one of his favorite pianists, after which someone asked him what they should practice. He responded, “Whatever is going to keep you at the piano the longest.” Mark thinks there’s a profound truth to that; the “right” thing to practice is whatever will be most engaging and meaningful for you, whatever gets you excited to play.
In that spirit, he likes to draw from numerous resources, and is always open to input from students who feel motivated to bring in their own ideas. For younger students, he tries to approach the learning process as a game, as something which allows for fun and exploration, not merely a rigid set of rules to follow. At the same time, all his students develop a strong foundation in conventional notation, theory, and piano technique. Balancing the technical and creative aspects of music is part of what makes teaching exciting and continually rewarding for Mark, along with getting to know students and taking part in their development.
As a performer, Mark has worked in jazz and and across the entire spectrum of improvised music, as well as in New Music, including most recently the US premiere of composer Eva-Maria Houben’s “Clouds” for two pianos. He has played with myriad groups in venues across the city of Chicago and beyond such as The Green Mill, Constellation, Prop Thtr, Comfort Station, Slate Arts and many others. He has contributed to numerous recordings, among them a forthcoming CD with the Adiaphora Orchestra, out on Amalgam Records in late 2019.
As a writer and scholar, Mark has written extensively about music. He’s contributed to publications like Cacophony Magazine, Dusted Magazine and the Walker Art Center Magazine, and has given talks at Northwestern’s Block Museum and the National Mental Health America conference in Washington DC. His research has focused especially on the critical reception history of jazz luminaries Thelonious Monk and Ornette Coleman.
During the week, he works as the Production and Marketing Manager of Elastic Arts, a non-profit dedicated to supporting creative noncommercial music and art in Chicago. In that capacity, he’s run sound and all other aspects of production for hundreds of shows ranging from jazz to hip hop, dance, video, and puppetry.
Outside of music, you’ll catch Mark biking around up and down the lakefront trail and out into the far-flung regions of Chicagoland. In biking as in music, there’s always more to explore.