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Marc Donnelly, M.M.

Silver Spring, MD 20901 (map)


Lessons Offered

Composition, Conducting, Music Theory, Organ, Piano, Singing, Music

Where are Lessons Offered

In Teacher Studio

In Student Home


About Me

marcsdonnelly.com

I work as an organist and choir director in Derwood, MD near Gaithersburg and have a teaching studio in Silver Spring, MD near downtown. Lessons could take place at either location or in the student's home if necessary. I have a beautiful mohagany baby grand Cristofori for students to play in Silver Spring and a very nice Yamaha U1 in Derwood.

I will work patiently with you or your child from day one, while encouraging growth with tested practice strategies. Many of the materials used are self created and tailored to the individual's needs. I provide all supplementary materials in technique, sight reading, music theory, and repertoire so that you do not have to search for these or spend time searching for them at bookstores or music shops.

From the Kawai website on finding a good piano teacher:

"What to Look For In a Good Piano Teacher
Unless you’re opting for a group piano class, you’ll be spending a lot of one-on-one time with your piano teacher. So, the most important thing to ask is “do I feel comfortable with this person?” As you talk with your prospective teacher, do you get a sense that you can connect with him or her? If you’re a beginner, do they seem patient and empathetic? If you already an experienced player looking to “get to the next level”, then is this teacher as focused and driven as you?

Use a Professional!
As with most endeavors requiring skill, you should look for a professional teacher. Taking lessons from a friend or family member who “plays a little” is no way to get off to a good start.

Carole Roach, a respected piano and vocal instructor puts it this way. 'I find the biggest mistake parents make with beginning lessons is not going to a professional teacher at the very onset of lessons. They have a neighbor who can play and think that ‘we'll see if she/he likes it first’.'

'Not only does that person not know what will be important later on, but they don't have the experience to try another approach if that student doesn't ‘get it’ with the first explanation. For example, some students are naturally good (music notation) readers. Others cannot seem to make the connection until much later.'

'A professional teacher can assess the student’s needs and adapt their teaching style to match. Just because someone can play an instrument, it doesn't follow that they can teach that information to someone else.'"

My Musical Education Background

BA Music, Mathematics, and Teaching
MM Conducting, with specific foci of Theory, Organ/Keyboard performance, and Vocal Technique
Doctoral Training in the History and Theory of Music
Trained in Piano, Organ, Voice, Conducting, Flute, and Pennywhistle performance.

Genres and Subjects Taught

Musical Experience Includes:

-Lecturing the complete undergraduate sequence of music history

-Lecturing advanced undergraduate theory in third and fourth semesters of harmony

-Instructing undergraduate aural skills through a complete sequence of four semesters

-Directing and planning church music programs

-Directing vocal ensembles of varying age levels

-Directing musicals

-Instructing individual lessons in voice, piano, and theory fundamentals

-Performing as an alto vocal and keyboard soloist

-Accompanying singers

-Organizing chamber music programs

-Working in development and administration

-Tutoring and lecturing high school mathematics

-Mentoring and instructing individuals with austism and other forms of PPD

Lesson Rates

Lesson rates are based on 30, 45, and 60 minute intervals and progressively become more economical.
30 minutes - $40
45 minutes - $50
60 minutes - $60

All lessons include instruction in music theory in order to help students comprehend musical organization and in order to facilitate better sight reading skills, view of musical form, and overall sensitivity in tone production.

Technique drills are tailored to your student's specific needs and aid in the performance of repertoire.

Weekly lessons are required for younger, developing students.
Bi-weekly lessons are available for adults and more advanced students with tighter schedules.

Ages / Skill Levels Taught

I offer lessons for students at the age of 5 and older for beginning through advanced ability levels.

"Education is the best provision for the journey to old age." - Aristotle

My Certifications and Awards

Selected to perform harpsichord continuo with the Bowdoin International Music Festival’s performance of the Bach double concerto with soloists Ray Chen (Queen Elizabeth 1st place) and Liang Wang (principal oboist for the NY Philharmonic). June 2011.

Received 3 consecutive years of the Pre-Doctoral Fellowship from the University of Connecticut.

Received Alexander Hewitt Scholarship from the University of Connecticut.

Recipient of the Robert K. Beckwith Music Prize from Bowdoin College – Awarded to the Graduating Senior who has contributed the most significantly to the Music Department in their four years.

Three years of tutoring training and certification coupled with mentoring and teaching training in elementary and high schools.

My Musical Influences

Music is a life long pursuit. I view my own musical development as a confluence of many contributors to the field passed down from teacher to student. This pedagogic bond is central to a student's development. My teachers have studied with masters in their field ranging from conductor Margaret Hillis, organist Mildred Andrews Boggess who holds the honor of teaching more Fulbright students than any teacher in any field, to pianist Naydene Bowder who studied at Julliard, with graduate degrees Columbia, Hartt College and Manhattan School. These teachers connect my own knowledge back to the reknown Boulanger family of the Paris Conservatoire and Faure. I love sharing this sense of history with my own students and encouraging their growth in music.


Service Area


Student Reviews




Bethesda, MD

Marc is a great teacher, very patient and kind. I am an adult beginner and Marc breaks down lessons in manageable chunks, gives me homework and keeps me interested. I am always looking forward to the next lesson, and thanks to him I greatly enjoy the process of learning music. mcp




Silver Spring, MD

It is a joy to work with Marc. What serendipity it is to learn from someone who is both a talented teacher and musician. He brings both a wealth of technical expertise and musicality that not only honors the composer, but allows for the student to find their own unique expression. Whether you are a beginning student or amateur rediscovering your musical abilities, Marc’s kindness, patience and passion for music will help you achieve your goals. I highly recommend him as a teacher.




Los Angeles, CA

I have had the distinct pleasure of working with Marc both in a choral setting and in the classroom. As a choral conductor Marc is patient, supportive and incredibly creative in his teaching style. His ability to incorporate historical, and theoretical elements into his rehearsal is enlightening and enjoyable. Anybody would be lucky to work with him in any capacity.




Storrs, CT

I had the pleasure of having Marc as my Music History professor at the University of Connecticut. I was perusing a music minor and was required to take this class. However it never felt like a boring required class with Marc teaching. Marc brought a presence to the classroom that made the learning environment fun and relaxed. He was also able to incorporate his extensive musical background into the lessons which brought the lesson outside of the textbook. I myself, being a very kinesthetic learner, benefited from the visual and hands on moments that he often incorporated into the lessons. He was always willing to help and clarify anything that was unclear in either the textbook or the lesson. He also did a very good job incorporating the different musical knowledge levels of the students. Having a small background in theory, I always loved the more in-depth theory moments. You can always tell that Marc really cares about his students through all of his efforts. I will greatly miss learning with him next year. Good Luck Marc!




Dallas, TX

What I like best about Marc's teaching his is attention to detail: technical, musical, and historical. As a vocal/choral coach, Marc not only helped me with my breathing and tone, he helped me become a better sight-singer (especially with regards to counting!). Moreover, his attention to phrasing and vocal gesture helped transform me from singer into an engaging performer.




Norman, OK

Marc is a great teacher and mentor. He helped me with aural, vocal, and piano skills at the University of Oklahoma. Marc is easy to work with and does anything he can to help out, whether that means slowing down, one step at a time, or giving you more more difficult challenges because he knows you can do it. Thanks Marc! -Steven




Newport, RI

Marc was my voice-teacher last year. He was wonderful to work with. He was my first teacher for voice as I am new at choir singing. The theory he provided was at a very high level and the practical advice he gave me for sight reading was invaluable. I plan to work with him again!




Newport, RI

At age 61 and with singing experience but never having lessons, I decided to undertake the task of being a better choral singer. Marc took me on as a student. I found him to be a huge help to me technically in the areas I wanted to strengthen (breathing, vowel pronunciation, power). Even more importantly he helped me overcome my extreme fear of singing in front of another person. He understood my goals (not to be a soloist but to be a better member of a group) and respected them. I would recommend him highly.




Norman, OK

I had the experience of having Marc as both a theory teacher and a choral director, and in that time he proved himself to be extremely capable in both areas. As a theory pedagogue, Marc's knowledge and skill are superb and matched only by his ability to teach the material. Not only did he find ways to convey the subject well, but his approach was fluid in the sense that he could adapt to the changing needs of students. If a student found a concept difficult to grasp, Marc would easily explain it from a different perspective in order to aid comprehension - a mark of a quality teacher. As a choral conductor, Marc brought knowledge, preparedness, and control to rehearsal. Unlike many student conductors with whom I've worked, he wasted little rehearsal time, allowing the ensemble to get the notes quickly so that interpretation and musicality could be brought to the forefront of the rehearsal process. Put simply, if Marc heard something incorrect, he fixed it calmly, quickly, and in a way that made his choir all feel like an integral part of the ensemble. With this precision he was able to easily carry out his vision of the piece, something which was informed by the strength of his knowledge of the repertoire. It was a pleasure to work with Marc, and I look forward to a time when my studies are completed and I can work with him again.


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