Longtime NAfME Member Michael L. Mark Passes into History
By Ella Wilcox, Editorial Communications Manager
Dr. Michael L. Mark, emeritus professor and former dean of the Graduate School at Towson University in Towson, Maryland, died May 10, 2018. A leading music education history scholar, Mark was a member of the National Association for Music Education (NAfME) for many years, a well-respected teacher, and the author, coauthor, or editor of numerous books and articles on music education and music history topics.
James Anthony, an associate professor of music emeritus and a colleague of Michael Mark in the Towson University’s Fine Arts Department commented, “I will always remember him as a very kind, mild-mannered gentleman. He was also extremely erudite and made great contributions to music education.”
In the words of Richard A. Disharoon, a past president of both the Maryland Music Educators Association (MMEA) and the Eastern Division of NAfME, “Three thoughts come to mind when I’m asked about Michael Mark. First, his leadership style. As president of the MMEA, he brought his scholarly approach to researching and solving difficult issues. He had a quiet but forceful manner that he used while keeping board members focused on accomplishing the mission of the association.”
“Second,” said Disharoon, “Michael led by example—he believed that music educators should be active performers. You might see him at a concert venue in Baltimore or Washington, D.C.—in a circus band or in a pit orchestra for a musical, opera, or ballet. Several years ago, Michael invited me to a free outdoor community concert by the Baltimore Municipal Band in which he played clarinet and saxophone for several weeks during the summer. Michael was playing in two quartets at the time of his passing.”
“Finally,” Disharoon concluded, “Michael was the most humble and self-effacing person I have ever met. He never talked about himself. If you complimented him on one of his numerous awards or one of the beautifully crafted pieces of furniture he created in his woodshop, he would simply smile and say ‘Thanks.’ I once asked him how long it had taken him to research one of his just-published books. Michael shrugged and said, ‘I don’t know—I just did it.’”
According to Rabbi Jerry Seidler, who gave a eulogy for Mark, “Michael was a teacher in the Prince Georges County schools in Maryland and was supervisor and director respectively of music for the Auburn and Elmira schools in Upstate New York. He was an associate professor at Morgan State and Catholic Universities and a professor of music at Towson University for seventeen years, becoming emeritus twenty years ago. Additionally, he served as the dean of Towson’s Graduate School for almost fifteen years.”
Mark leaves a substantial body of work, including numerous articles for publications such as Music Educators Journal and the Journal of Research in Music Education. Among Mark’s books are these three classic textbooks published by NAfME and Rowman & Littlefield:
- A Concise History of American Music Education (2008)
- A History of American Music Education (3rd ed. with Charles L. Gary, 2017)
- The Music Educator and Community Music: The Best of MEJ (Michael L. Mark, Editor, 1992)
Michael Mark will be missed by his family, including his wife Lois Mark (nee Nitekman), a brother, children, and grandchildren. His music education colleagues and many friends mourn his passing, and the music education community is in debt to him for his many contributions to the field and for his example of a life well lived.