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 as well, so I bring a historical perspective to much of the music my students and I work on.
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.
Just getting started, but Mary quickly determined where I needed to focus my efforts to become a more complete musician. She is assigning tasks to improve my overall competence at the piano. Her knowledge of music theory and piano technique is extensive. She has an engaging style and makes the lessons fun.
I highly recommend Dr. Crowell for private piano lessons. While she is very knowledgeable in music theory and composition, she also possess the ability to read the emotions and skills of her students and adapt the lesson accordingly. In my opinion, this is a sign of a highly trained and talented teacher. I am very excited to continue my piano education with her and cannot wait until my daughters are old enough to take lessons as well.
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