Mark hasn’t decided which term to use to refer to himself – multipotentialite, scanner, slasher, generalist, multi-passionate, polymath, Renaissance soul, puttylike, hummingbird, octopus, rainforest mind. None seem quite right. Well, maybe rainforest mind. In any case, he’s somewhere in there — a sensitive and smart jack of many trades, master of some. His main pursuits have been in writing, music, education, sustainability and personal growth.
Since childhood, Mark has been deeply involved in music. He began playing the piano at the age of four. While still in high school, Mark composed and co-wrote his first musical, Cupid’s Arrow, which he also directed and conducted. Later, he composed and co-authored another original stage musical, The Right Circles.
Mark has performed and composed for many events and productions, with New York City venues including The Supper Club, The Duplex, Gilda’s Club and the Magnet Theater. He has also made multiple appearances on ABC’s Good Morning America, including a special Christmas segment with Rosie O’Donnell (also see 1, 2).
As a songwriter, Mark was recognized in 2003 by Billboard’s 11th Annual Songwriting Contest with three Honorable Mentions, two of which were designated as Top 500 songs. Also that year, the Songwriters Resource Network’s Great American Song Contest called his work “exceptional songwriting.” In 2008, working as The Offhand Band, he wrote, produced and released Everyone’s Invited, an album of original songs for kids and families.
With extensive experience improvising music in many styles, Mark is an accomplished improvisational theatre musical director. In this unique work, he improvises underscores for scenes and, working with the actors, he improvises songs, musicals and operas. Mark also develops and teaches classes on singing improvised songs and performing improvised accompaniment, and you’ll occasionally see him away from the keyboard doing non-musical improv. He spent more than a decade as musical director for The Mop & Bucket Co. and has performed and taught for multiple festivals and groups.
After teaching traditional methods for a total of seven years, Mark is now a Master Simply Music Piano Teacher, helping students achieve breakthrough results as New York’s most experienced teacher of this extraordinary piano learning method since 2008. His two-volume Tune Toolkit Composition & Improvisation program is available exclusively through Simply Music and can be done even by people who’ve never had a piano lesson. Mark also co-founded Music Geeks Unite and co-developed its flagship offering, Play with Simply Music, a self-study program which provides the most comprehensive and affordable introduction to the experience of taking Simply Music Piano lessons with a teacher. He has additional music education programs in development.
You can also find Mark out and about with Pop-Up Piano Bar, where you can sing along to your requests and even do live piano-accompanied karaoke.
In addition to music, Mark has many other eclectic pursuits. He wrote his first full-length screenplay at age 16, and as a Theatre Arts major at Cornell University (BA 1992, Phi Beta Kappa), Mark studied directing with Pulitzer Prize nominee David Feldshuh. Having had musicals and screenplays represented by the Farber Literary Agency (NYC) and Susan Smith & Associates (Beverly Hills), Mark has numerous other accomplishments in theater and film. Beginning in 2020, Mark also become a professional ghostwriter.
Mark also has strong intellectual interests centered around science and positive change, especially in the systems sciences, ecology, evolution, anthropology and psychology. These led him to write an award-winning thesis on sustainability for the City University of New York Graduate Center (MA 2001), and to create Potluck, a website which includes many of his related essays and papers as well as original artistic works.
These pursuits also led Mark to co-found Emergent Associates, LLC, an agency specializing in personal/life coaching, group/organizational/business consulting and training, using a unique internally-developed approach which integrated knowledge about systems sciences, positive change and developmental psychology. The Appreciative Inquiry-based work of EA provided Mark with the foundation for many services offered through Potluck Creative Arts, including the songwriting workshop which formed the basis for the facilitated songwriting process he uses for Songs by You.
Always a solid math student, he was the top Advanced Placement Calculus student in his high school’s graduating class. His more analytical capacities also helped him excel in computer literacy. Professionally and otherwise, Mark has had extensive experience creating and managing databases and spreadsheets, analyzing data, desktop publishing, and programming, including during nearly a decade as a marketing analyst for Doctors Without Borders USA’s fundraising department.