A musical Marvel still giving lessons


Coastal Point • Laura Walter : With his signature white beard and favorite hat, Mark Marvel is still teaching everything from guitar to percussion and band instruments.Coastal Point • Laura Walter : With his signature white beard and favorite hat, Mark Marvel is still teaching everything from guitar to percussion and band instruments.Mark Marvel loves music. With a guitar in hand, he peppers his conversation with chord progressions from Motown and modern rock. After 32 years teaching at Indian River High School, he retired at the end of 2014. But he’s still teaching private music lessons.

Marvel teaches electric, acoustic and bass guitar, all band instruments, percussion and mallets.

“I think I’ve taught every band instrument through the years,” he said.

But understanding music is just as important as playing it, he noted.

“Music theory and music writing — I’ve been doing for kids throughout the years that are going to pursue that as a career or in college.”

Most high schools don’t offer music theory, he noted, but it’s essential “if you’re going to play music or you want to learn how to write, arrange, compose songs from scratch.”

With a master’s degree in music education, Marvel welcomes all ages, from the aspiring young musician to the retiree who always wanted to learn.

“Once in a while, I’d have a 65-year-old man that wanted to learn guitar,” he said. “And if they’re really musically inclined, they pick it up pretty quick.”

Even parents of his regular students have taken lessons.

It was Marvel’s own father who inspired his love of music.

“Dad played trumpet and played big band,” Marvel said. “I found his trumpet in the attic in third grade.”

With lessons from his dad, Marvel joined the elementary school band a year early.

“It’s so cliché, but it’s so true: the Beatles on ‘The Ed Sullivan Show’ — I had to learn guitar,” he explained with a laugh. “I knew in seventh grade I wanted to be a music teacher, or famous.”

As a teen, “I was building guitar amps and learning how to play guitar. … When I got my license, we started gigging” at weekend dances, from Bethany Beach to Selbyville Middle School. “We were horrible,” he said, shaking his head, “but eventually you learn.”

Following the footsteps of his own teachers, he taught private lessons (including Bill Schwenk in middle school) and arranged the music for stage band performances (Richard Eckerd in high school).

He was mesmerized by rock operas, such as “Jesus Christ Superstar” and “Phantom of the Opera,” which amped up the orchestra with drums, keyboards and electric guitars.

As a director, he often played lead guitar while conducting the high school band in his own arrangements of major rock songs.

“I’ve written loads of stage band-type music over the years,” simply because he couldn’t find an arrangement that would fit all of his students’ talents, “so I had to write my own,” he said.

Marvel still jams alongside his own former students in the band Over Time, found on local stages most weekends and summer nights.

He’s also planning a music arrangement and composition company with his son.

“You learn by doing it,” he said. “I don’t know what I’d do without music.”

Lessons typically last 30 minutes and are available from Monday to Thursday.

Contact Mark Marvel for more information or prices, at (302) 539-7008 or (302) 249-1799.