“Lisa Markley has more depth control and beauty to her voice in a live concert setting than most vocalists get in a studio. Driving that voice is a soul of wit and intelligence and a heart of gold.”
Paul Slavens, KERA Dallas
Though most often recognized for her abilities as a vocalist, Lisa Markley began her musical journey as a trombonist. A multi-instrumentalist (voice, guitar, piano, banjo, and trombone), Markley is a graduate of the prestigious School of Music at the University of North Texas where she performed in the Lab Bands and in the Jazz Singers, studying composition, jazz, voice, trombone, and music education.
She defies category in pursuit of the perfect song.
Markley has been recording and touring internationally over the last fifteen years as a singer-songwriter and jazz artist, playing shows from Festival Mémoire et Racines in Québec, to the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, from Festival Internationale to the Kerrville Folk Festival, from jazz clubs in Seattle to folk shows in Boston, and in house concerts from Bellingham to Cape Cod to Denver to New York City.
Though Lisa Markley’s career as a songwriter blends folk and jazz influences, her recent recording projects have brought her home, focusing her finely tuned vocal talents on the jazz genre. Lisa is signed with the Soona Songs record label, where she has been given the freedom to explore the more intimate forms of jazz song, art song, and to record new songs along side the jazz “standards”.
ENSEMBLES: These days Lisa performs locally her “standard” jazz shows with her Four-Tête, and tours regionally (Woodstock, the Hudson Valley, and New England) with her husband and partner in musical crime, Bruce Balmer, (Markley & Balmer) doing their own twisted take on original songs and jazz standards.
THE MALVINAS: She also hits the road occasionally with the genre-busting folk-ish trio The Malvinas, though the precariousness of bookings with COVID floating around, has them on hiatus for the rest of 2022. We’ll see what 2023 brings in the way of touring. It takes a lot of hope and transportation for the stars to align, to bring The Malvinas together into one zipcode, so they must proceed with caution (for the finances, and for their health).
“It is the supreme art of the teacher to awaken the joy in creative expression and knowledge.”
TEACHING: Yet with all the traveling, she remains deeply rooted in her community as a teaching artist. Through the years, Lisa Markley has taught over a thousand students in school settings as well as her private studio.
She remains as passionately devoted to teaching as she is to writing and performing. Lisa is teaching online around the world, as well as locally in-person (masked on her screened porch with vaccinated students). Lessons available in Piano, Guitar, Ukulele, Songwriting, Composition, music theory, and more.
“Gilberto Gil and Joni Mitchell fall in love on a road trip across America and look for breakfast in New Jersey.” Jonathan Byrd
Sometimes described as “musician’s musicians”, Markley & Balmer are an indefinable duo who blend jazz, folk, pop, be-bop and the occasional polka into a wild mix that raises the barre for songwriters and instrumentalists alike. While they have done their homework on their instruments, they never forget that the song is the point. Lisa Markley (vocals, guitar, banjo) and Bruce Balmer (vocals, guitar), both talented songwriters, come together to present a rare and beautiful show that leads the listener down the garden path, “afflicting the comfortable while comforting the afflicted”, pushing their personal envelope while gathering the audience in to the intimacy of their musical marriage, of this creative partnership.
“… some of the most accomplished musicians I’ve ever heard … the second coming of Ella and Bird … the Tuck & Patti of the singer-songwriter world.” Tom Prasada-Rao
“crafty and passionate” Beth Wood
(photo by Sharie Vance)
With over twenty years experience as a teaching artist, and over a thousand students passing through her school classroom and private music studio, Lisa Markley remains as passionately devoted to teaching as she is to writing and performing.
Private lessons and workshops are available in voice, piano, composition, songwriting, guitar, audition preparation (ear training, sight singing, music theory) and even trombone. Lisa is a graduate of the University of North Texas’ renowned School of Music where she studied composition, jazz, voice, piano, trombone and music education.
“A great teacher is a great artist and there are as few as there are any other great artists. Teaching might even be the greatest of the arts since the medium is the human mind and spirit.” John Steinbeck
Music is a life-long journey
“A problem is a chance to do your best.” Duke Ellington
I strive to honor the journey of each student, this includes those with learning differences. There is, at the very heart of what we do in the music lessons, a joy in the making of music. Students must feel that the lesson space is a safe place to take musical risks , to make mistakes, to ask questions , and to try again.
The well-rounded musician
“…we often forget that piano playing is a singing art. Often I sing to myself the music I am playing.” Van Cliburn
I teach the whole musician, specializing in beginners (ages 6 to “grownup”). The voice is an integral part of study, even when the main focus is instrumental. All piano and guitar students sing what they play. Vocal students are expected to study piano as part of their voice lessons, (if they are over the age of thirteen, they also have the option of studying guitar). Piano is the ideal first instrument! A good working knowledge of the piano is an excellent first step towards all the other instruments.
Students learn to bring playfulness to their practice:
- to listen
- to slow down
- to try again
- to play without tension
- to work through their fears
- to try again
- to be patient with themselves
- to try again (and again and again)
Reading, writing, improvising
“Real art is one of the most powerful forces in the rise of mankind, and he who renders it accessible to as many people as possible is a benefactor of humanity.” Zoltan Kodaly
In our music lessons, proper technique and knowledge of music fundamentals grow alongside improvisation, chord theory and playing by ear. I do not adhere strictly to any single methodology though my own teaching method has been greatly informed by the techniques of Zoltan Kodaly and Carl Orff. Lessons are customized for each student. The basics of music notation and Western harmony can be learned through any musical genre, be it classical, blues and boogie, jazz, pop, country, or folk styles. I seek to find music that truly inspires each individual student. Improvisation, composition, and songwriting are highly encouraged.
Some words from parents and students
“When I saw Lisa perform, I knew she was THE music teacher for my daughter and their first lesson together proved my hunch! Lisa put my daughter miraculously at ease while gently testing her ability and knowledge of theory right away. I couldn’t be more pleased to have her as my daughter’s musical mentor!” Michelle Sandlin
“My children learned piano from Lisa and hold fond memories of their time with her. Piano provided a solid foundation for the transition to to band a few years later. Recently I asked Lisa if she was up to teaching an old dog new tricks, as I had joined a choir for the first time in 52 years with no experience singing or reading music. She put me immediately at ease and is a wonderful support – I stepped out of my comfort zone to do this and Lisa’s helping me find a new zone!” Jennifer Quinn
“Lisa Markley has been the trusted piano and voice teacher to my two young boys. The fact that my boys look forward to their music lessons each week speaks volumes. Lisa brings music to life and makes learning fun while teaching the core fundamentals. She allows the boys to explore and dive into music with hearts and hands wide open – we are playing the Beatles right now. Lisa is a gem, a pure talent and gives of herself musically in so many ways. I highly recommend her.” Linda Carlson (mother to Jon and Max)