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March 2013 Teacher Spotlight

Theresa Martin

Clarinet & Piano Teacher, Heid Music Appleton

TheresaM Click for video introduction
Dr. Theresa Martin began teaching piano in 2000 and has continued teaching private piano, clarinet and composition lessons for the past 10 years while completing her graduate studies. She earned a doctorate in music composition at the University of Michigan in 2009, two masters degrees in composition and clarinet performance at Arizona State University in 2004, and a Bachelor’s of Fine Arts in composition and clarinet performance at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee in 2002. A typical piano lesson with Dr. Martin involves scales or warm-ups, playing and learning new material from both the lesson book and another book of the student’s choosing, learning about music theory and building skills in ear training and sight-reading. She promotes proper technique and encourages daily practice so that students can produce beautiful music and have fun playing the piano. Dr. Martin may also be available for clarinet and composition lessons, from beginning to advanced levels. For more information please visit


How old were you when you started playing clarinet and/or piano, and what made you choose those instruments?  I was 5 when I started piano lessons, and 9 when I started playing clarinet. My mom noticed that from a very young age, I showed an interest in learning piano, and I had even asked for lessons. I did not have my own piano until I was 10, and had to practice on my grandma’s piano. I would see my grandma often, as I would walk to her house after school. I remember that whenever I went to her house, the first thing I did was practice piano. I even remember giving “lessons” to my stuffed animals. I chose clarinet because I heard it once randomly at my brother’s solo and ensemble competition, and I thought the sound was beautiful.  Up until that point, I had wanted to learn trumpet because that’s what my brother played. I ended up marrying a trumpet player instead!  I have always been happy with my choice in playing the clarinet.  When I play my clarinet, it makes me feel alive.  Practicing clarinet is like breathing for me—it is a necessary part of my life to make me happy.  Playing piano has always been relaxing to me, as well.

How and when did you discover your passion for writing music?  I dabbled with writing a little when I was younger, but I really never seriously wrote anything until my freshman year of college.  It was in my first year of music theory, and we had an assignment to write a melody.  I thought the assignment was fun, and I even thought I was pretty good at it. That simple assignment piqued my interest, so I wrote some pieces to put together a portfolio and got accepted into the composition program at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.  After graduating with a double major in composition and clarinet performance, I went on to get a two masters’ degrees in composition and clarinet performance at Arizona State University, and a doctorate in composition at the University of Michigan.  Now I am commissioned frequently, mainly from professional musicians and college professors around the country, and my music has been played all over the world.

10th and Broadway Clarinet Quartet performs Theresa Martin's Monstress

theresa1What is the best advice you can offer a beginning musician?  Music is so invaluable to have in your life.  There are so many benefits to learning music and plenty of research out there to back it up, from higher grades in school to staying sharp in your older years. Don’t let anyone or anything discourage you from learning music!  If you keep practicing and stick with it, you will be rewarded with a lifetime of enjoyment in music. 

What do you like most about teaching?  For me, the greatest joy of teaching is witnessing my students succeed and knowing that I am responsible for inspiring them.  It is so rewarding to know that I made a difference in their lives.

cupcakesTell us something unique about yourself; what do you like to do in your spare time, outside of music?  I am really good at baking and decorating sugar cookies, which I do often for birthdays and holidays.  In my spare time, I also enjoy spending time with family, reading, exercising, biking, or going for walks.  Most of my “spare” time is spent composing, but I think that counts as work.  In general, I wish I had more spare time!

What her studio has to say about Theresa:
My son has been taking lessons from Theresa for over two years.  His playing has improved greatly over this time.  Theresa is very patient and calm.  She offers both encouragement and constructive criticism.  I especially enjoy how she sets up the recitals, very low key and student oriented, giving each student several opportunities to come to the piano during a recital.  We are very happy having Theresa Martin as our son's piano teacher.  - Joanna Dane

We have been extremely pleased with the private clarinet instruction Beth has received from Theresa. She has encouraged and challenged Beth in the musical pieces she's given her.  She has also made her aware of additional clarinet opportunities that are available in our area.  Beth has grown under Theresa's instruction in both her dedication and appreciation of the clarinet.  - Susan Michalewski

Theresa has been a wonderful piano teacher for my two daughters.  She is very good at teaching various levels of piano and music theory, accommodating with busy schedules and she motivates her students with rewards for practice time and good performance.  Both my daughters love going to their piano lessons with Theresa and are progressing very well.  Her student piano recitals are enjoyable, also!  - Colleen Scanlon