When I asked a friend how I should describe my teaching practice, she said:
Mark Polishook is the kind of mentor and tutor who will help you breathe life and passion into any ambition you have to become or evolve as a pianist. Whether you are looking to fulfil a lifelong ambition to learn or find entirely new inspiration in a skill you have honed for years, Mark is the finest guide to employ.
Mark teaches in his light and airy Leicester studio, or via Skype to pupils around the world. His piano is a Steingraeber Phoenix 205, recognised as one of the very best in the world. To play such a beautiful and rare instrument is inspiration enough to pursue being the very best you possibly can be.
For those who are truly looking for a master of his craft, his many accomplishments and achievements are listed here and yet, for all of this, you will find Mark to be a funny, warm, empathetic man who will be your mentor in the most effective way for you. Surely this quality is paramount in you succeeding at and loving the piano.
When I describe myself quickly, I say I’m a pianist, a composer, a music technologist, and a teacher who specialises in improvisation influenced by historical and contemporary sources. In other words, I like to improvise, compose, and play music by others. And I’m very interested in contemporary sounds that electronic instruments make.
I’ve given improvised solo piano concerts in a lot of different places, for example, in Leicester, UK in general, Craców in Poland, China, and the United States. I’ve also taught courses on improvisation at Jackdaws, one of the leading Music Education Trusts in the UK.
My background in jazz includes performances with jazz practitioners, including Ted Curson, Kenny Garrett, Cassandra Wilson, Eddie Gomez, Richard Davis, Little Jimmy Scott, Sonny Fortune, and Mark Murphy. Dr. Polishook’s jazz piano teachers include Jaki Byard, Charlie Banacos, and Marian McPartland.
I have a doctorate in music composition from the Hartt School of Music, an MA in composition and theory from the University of Pittsburgh, an MM in jazz piano from the Manhattan School of Music, and a BM degree in jazz piano from the New England Conservatory of Music. My composition teachers include Eugene Kurtz, Ludmilla Uelehla, Robert Carl, and James Sellars.
The first faculty position I held after my completing doctoral degree in music was as the jazz piano and composition professor at the University of Maine at Augusta. After five years at UMA, my family and moved to Ellensburg, Washington, where I taught at Central Washington University where for eight years. There, I directed the music department’s composition and theory programs. At both of those universities I also worked with many students at the piano. I’m not exaggerating if I say between classroom and studio teaching I’ve easily taught thousands of students.
I’ve also taught as a Senior Fulbright Lecturer in the Electro-acoustic Music Studio at the Craców Academy of Music. And I’ve been an adjunct faculty member at Montclair State University music school where I taught courses on electronic music. In the Honours College at Montclair State University, I taught courses on creativity, specifically on how to be creative.
I currently reside in Leicester in the UK. I teach all things related to the piano, including improvisation and classical repertoire, jazz, composition, music theory, and music technology. I give lessons in my studio in Oadby. But, I also teach internationally through Skype video conferencing. My Skype students reside on several different continents.
When it comes to Skype, my opinion is better to be able to study with the teach with whom you’d like to work, rather than the best teacher who lives nearby. Of course, it often happens that the best teacher one can find is nearby. But just as often, the so-called best teacher isn’t in one’s local area. That’s the point where Skype is invaluable as a medium for teaching.
The studio in which I teach is is a hybrid—it combines the best of old and new technology. For example, the piano is Steingraeber Phoenix 205. The first one was built in the 19th century for Franz Liszt so 205s are sometimes known as the Liszt grand piano.
Because I’m fortunate to have it I only teach from my home studio, whether in-person or over Skype. That’s because I believe an important part of learning how to play the piano is knowing what a great instrument sounds like and what it can do. Most accomplished pianists will say, without hesitation, that they play better and can more of what they’d like to do when playing a fantastic instrument.
My piano studio also has professional recording equipment and all sorts of synthesisers and, well, gadgets or the electronic things, as I call them. These different components—piano, recording equipment, and synthesisers—come together into an extended musical instrument that draws from, on the one hand, the historical legacy of the piano, and, on the other, from new and upcoming innovations in music technology.
For example! The picture, below, shows students in a university in Hong Kong playing on a Haken Continuum, one of my electronic instruments.
Click on the picture to hear me improvising along with tracks I recorded on my iPad.