About

Bio MARK A. RIPLEY

Professional Summary – Piano teacher, recording artist, solo pianist, wedding performer, jazz band musician and more …

Mark Ripley is a seasoned professional with 30+ years of musical experience.  He is well-versed in the classics and standards with a special love for Jazz.  Music is his passion and he is also quite passionate about his students attaining their musical goals.  Highlights of his professional career include:

  • Performing on the same stage with Dizzy Gillespie, The Platters, and Frank Sinatra Jr.
  • Being the pianist on an internationally released CD/Album, Texas State of Mind and Jazz Journey, endorsed by Doc Severinson
  • Performing under the Baton of Johnny Mann: Two-Time Grammy Award Winner, Five-Time Grammy Award Nominee, arranger and producer of 39 albums http://www.johnnymannsingers.com
  • Performing with internationally known jazz drummer, Steve Houghton in Kenosha, WI  www.houghtonmusic.com

Personal Life

Mark grew up in the country between Racine and Kenosha, Wisconsin.  He enjoyed the surrounding woods and playing with the frogs, salamanders, pollywogs and other sorts of God’s creatures he came across.  His constant companions were his two younger brothers and many friends from the neighborhood.

Mark’s parents make a bold move – probably to keep him and his brothers out of trouble by enrolling them in music school.  Mark began on the accordion, his middle brother Scott soon thereafter on the guitar and several years later his youngest brother Todd on the drums.  They almost had a full band!

The brothers became talented musicians and eventually formed a band: Mark III Trio, playing for weddings, private parties and anywhere there were lots of people. Later, the band was renamed The Dodge Band since they drove a Dodge van to all their gigs.  They played for the Governor of Wisconsin, the former Playboy Club in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin and hundreds of wedding receptions over the years. They were so busy that the band was booked every weekend for a year in advance. One big plus of being so busy was that it enabled Mark to pay for his college tuition and graduate debt free.

Playing so many gigs meant hanging out at the local music store quite a bit. There Mark received the opportunity to teach youngsters and oldsters piano, organ and accordion.  Teaching private and group lessons, he honed his skill on the latter with as many as 15 to 20 kids at a time on the accordion. You should have heard that! He found this very rewarding and happily continues this lifelong passion of teaching others how to have fun playing music.

With a growing affection for all kinds of music, Mark turned in his accordion and rock ‘n roll organ for a more serious study of music genres. He enrolled at the University of Wisconsin Parkside School of Music and studied classical piano with the renowned Steven Swedish: whereabouts unknown at this time. Mr. Swedish was known for performing with symphonies around the world as well as being the primary pianist for violinist Eugene Fodor.  In addition, Mark studied composition with composer August Wegner and completed Jazz/Lab Band studies under the tutelage of Tim Bell from the world renowned One O’Clock Lab Band of Denton, Texas.

Upon graduation in 1978 with his Bachelors in Music from UW, Mark decided to see what else the world had to offer and packed his bags to study music even more seriously at the UNT School of Music in Denton,Texas.  (Home of the aforementioned One O’Clock Lab Band) He was fortunate enough to study with Dan Haerle and Rich Matteson: both internationally known jazz educators at UNT.

Mark had fallen in love with Big Band music while at UW Parkside, so he kept that passion alive by playing piano with a local Dallas band known as Pete Petersen & The Collection Jazz Orchestra. Their first album, Texas State of Mind, was released in 1983 and was followed by a CD called Jazz Journey. (Both were endorsed by Doc Severinson, former leader and trumpeter from The Tonight Show band during the Johnny Carson era.) The band performed all overN. Texasand was a mainstay for several years at the former Dallas Jazz Club called Strictly Tabu: now a sports bar.

There were many other bands Mark played with throughout the years. One was the Celebration Orchestra, which performed Basie and Ellington standards. A little tidbit on this band is that Grammy Award winner Norah Jones had previously played piano with the band. Mark played out of the same book Norah used before becoming famous. Another band was the Crosswinds Jazz Band with Christian based roots dedicated to the mission of aiding fundraising for good causes throughout the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex. Mark was also asked to perform with the TI Jazz Band kicking off the Dallas Symphony Orchestra in 2010 at the famous Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center in Dallas. http://www.dallasculture.org/meyersonsymphonycenter

Mark also gladly shared his talents in Carrollton, Texas by teaching piano for the Boys and Girls Club and performing for nearly 10 years on the keyboards for the worship band at Bent Tree Bible Fellowship Church. He also served at Watermark Community Church in Dallas, Texas in the kid’s music program.

Most recently Mark has been teaching piano to students as young as 6 to retired adults and all ages in between at the Piano Gallery in Dallas, Texas. Mark teaches one-on-one lessons in the studio at the DFW Piano Gallery and also teaches small group lessons building bonds between the students and inspiring a little healthy competition, too. www.dfwpianogallery.com Another offering Mark has is teaching in-home lessons to those who wish to have the lesson taught in their home on their own instrument. This offers the student privacy and convenience and gives a little “Windshield” time for Mark; not a bad thing when the weather is nice!