Mark Clifford
Mark Clifford

Mark Clifford

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Introduction: Mark Clifford is a pianist, percussionist, educator, composer, and producer based in Oakland, CA. A much sought after performer and improviser, Clifford is equally involved in Classical music, new music, jazz, free improvisation, and rock; he is involved in multiple projects in the Bay Area and around the country. In demand as a recording musician, he can be heard playing piano, keyboard, drums, and percussion on over 20 records to date. His performance experience spans worldwide; he has had the honor of playing alongside an array of master musicians including: Jeff Parker, Kjell Nordeson, Ches Smith, Joan La Barbara, Aram Shelton, Colin Stranahan, Scott Amendola, Tatsuya Nakatani, Ron Miles, Lisa Mezzacappa, and he has performed with The Colorado Symphony Orchestra, So Percussion, SF Soundgroup, and Oakland Active Orchestra. As a composer, Clifford keeps busy writing music for a wide range of projects, ensembles, and commissions. Most recently, he was invited to New York to premier Levity Factions, a work in four sections for mixed quartet for the Lijiang Studio Index. Other recent commissions include works for Switchboard Presents, New Keys Ensemble, the Temescal Composer’s colloquium, and multiple works for the Samantha Stone Dance Collective. Clifford is also the founder and leader of The Dirty Snacks Ensemble, an eclectic post jazz ensemble in which he serves as the composer, vibraphonist and vocalist. Clifford is an active and enthusiastic educator. He has over a decade of teaching experience and has lectured worldwide at such institutions as Nagoya University, The Jazz School, UCSD, Pasadena City College, the Lamont School of Music, and has worked as a mentor and educator with the Colorado Conservatory for the Jazz Arts and the Colorado Symphony Orchestra summer programs. In private studies, Clifford uses traditional pedagogy as a means of developing a strong technical and theoretical foundation while simultaneously encouraging his students to seek musical inspiration from the world around them. Clifford graduated with a B.M. in Classical Percussion Performance and a minor in Piano Performance from the Lamont School of Music where he received many accolades, including the 2012 undergraduate recital of distinction, the 2012 Frank Toth Memorial Award, and the 2011 Outstanding Student in Jazz and Commercial Studies Award. Clifford studied Percussion under Colorado Symphony Orchestra master percussionist John Kinzie, Piano under Alice Rybak, Jazz Theory and Composition under Eric Gunnison, and Composition under William Hill. Clifford has also had the honor of studying at Nagoya University in Japan with Tomomi Sugo and has studied vibraphone with two of his greatest heroes, Steve Nelson and Matt Moran.

Hired 1 time

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20 years in business

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This pro accepts payments via Cash, Check, Credit card, PayPal, and Venmo.

Featured Projects

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4 reviews


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Anne W.
Aug 16, 2016
With Mark as my piano teacher over the past year and a half, I've begun to really excel at playing. He's knowledgeable, patient, open to working with my taste in music, and takes time to discuss music theory with me. I highly recommend Mark as a music teacher.
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Bradley S.
Aug 16, 2016
I hired Mark to do some string arrangements for a couple of songs and the results were extraordinary. One song was a bright, poppy country song and the other a moody acoustic ballad. He not only came up with really smart and unique arrangements for both, but brought his own voice and breadth of influence and experience to them in a way that enriched and deepened the songs. He was great in the studio, too, flexible about making changes and collaborative in a productive and fun way. He's so busy, there were times it was hard to keep in touch, but that's literally the only thing I can think of to complain about and I refuse to give him anything less than 5 stars.
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Ben B.
Aug 16, 2016
Mark recorded music for a fundraising commercial I was composing. The job turned out perfect - Mark has a great ear, and works very efficiently. He was very generous with his time, and most importantly, he's a fun guy to work with. Couldn't have been happier!
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Anthony P.
Aug 28, 2016
Mark is a wonderful piano teacher to our two boys ages 9 and 12. He is patient and engaging and really listens to their interests. When one of the boys asked him questions about what exactly "jazz" is and what makes someting sound "jazzy", Mark gave him such a nuanced but accesible explanation. He really tries to guage the interests of his students and teach toward those interests, something I really appreciate and the kids seem to as well. Mark is also punctual and professional as well as accomodating to schedules.
Background Check

Mark Clifford


  • What is your typical process for working with a new customer?

    When I am beginning to work with a prospective student, I like to start by scheduling a trial lesson. This session is an opportunity for me to learn about the student's specific musical interests, and is also a great chance for students to work with me in my studio and to see if they feel confident that my teaching style and working space are in line with their musical goals. Once we both feel ready to move forward, I will print a student/teacher agreement that outlines the policies for my studio for us both to sign, get a regular lesson scheduled, and if appropriate, I will recommend method books or literature based on our initial lesson for us to work from in future sessions.

  • What education and/or training do you have that relates to your work?

    I have been a student of music for over 25 years now. I attended middle and high school at Denver School of the Arts, and then went on to major in percussion and minor in piano at Lamont School of Music. I graduated with high honors and was given the opportunity to study further at Nagoya University in Japan after graduating. I began teaching privately as a percussion tutor while in high school at Denver School of the Arts, and have since taught piano, percussion, theory, composition, and improvisation worldwide.I have lectured at institutions including Nagoya University, The California Jazz Conservatory, Denver University, UCSD, and Pasadena City College. I have also served as a mentor in the both the Colorado Conservatory for the Jazz Arts and the Colorado Symphony Orchestra summer programs.

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