June 3, 1940–January 20, 2019

Mary Craig’s colleagues in the Suzuki world remember her as being an incredible role model and teacher, a fountain of knowledge and much beloved as a person. As a brilliant pedagogue she was imaginative, creative, and unconditionally supportive of parents, children, and other teachers. Participants in her teacher training workshops found her to be inspirational, demonstrating both the beauty of patience and teaching with passion. She was kind, caring, wise, and gracious. Her presence at conferences and leadership retreats was palpable. We will not soon forget her sweet North Carolina accent, “portata,” and above all her lovely smile and encouraging words.

Mary Craig Powell, age 78, of Columbus, OH, passed away January 20, 2019. She was preceded in death by her parents Braxton and Frances Daughtridge, sister Peggy Daughtridge and husbands Carl Ingling and Claud Powell, and survived by her husband Jim MacCallum, son John Powell and his wife Wendy, son Robert Powell, and granddaughter Rebecca Powell. Mary Craig received her baccalaureate degree magna cum laude from East Carolina University and her master of music in piano performance from Wichita State University.

After teaching at Campbell College in North Carolina, Erskine College in South Carolina, and Augustana College in Illinois, Mary Craig taught students privately in Athens, Ohio, for 11 years. Moving to Columbus, she taught students and teachers through the Suzuki method at the Community Music School and Conservatory of Music at Capital University. During this time, her recognition as a Suzuki piano teacher grew to international proportions with invitations to teach children and teachers in Central and South America, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Bermuda, Italy, Singapore, Malaysia and Japan.

A woman of great accomplishment, Mary Craig Powell authored the book Focus on Suzuki Piano and was the piano editor for Suzuki World magazine. She received a Creating Learning Community Award for “Excellence in Suzuki Teacher Education” from the Suzuki Association of the Americas at the 2002 Conference. Mary Craig was co-chair of the International Suzuki Association’s Piano Committee, whose work produced the revised International Edition of the Suzuki Piano School in 2010.

In addition to workshops and public life, Mary Craig loved to cook, to eat out at the Cheesecake Factory, and to spend time with her dog Molly. She enjoyed gardening and playing hymns for her church. Gracious and hospitable, she often shared her home with many who came to do teacher training with her.

She was loved, respected, and appreciated by her students. One of her former students shared, “Mrs. Powell was patient, stern but encouraging, and always cheerful with a joyful laugh and big smile. I will forever be grateful to her for the musical foundation she created in my life and know her legacy will continue through her students, friends and family.”

<sub2>Remembrances from Friends and Colleagues

I still wonder how she did it. How she turned out young musicians who played exquisitely, passionately and accurately . . . and never ruffled her serenity. I worked with many of her students in my improvisation class at the Capital University summer institutes. They had imagination, creativity and wisdom not only in their standard repertoire pieces, but on their own journeys into music. Her gentle North Carolina accent and sweet voice softened some of the funny and unvarnished observations she made about life in general. Her uncomplicated and unconditional support of her students, her colleagues and her friends made her a magnet for everyone. We all felt better about ourselves when Mary Craig was in the room. We all felt lucky to call her “my friend Craig. – Catherine McMichael, MI

Our dear Mary Craig . . .

She was a very special lady: the perfect combination of a first rate, highly professional teacher, musician, and a kind, graceful, loving person. It’s impossible to imagine the Suzuki world without her, our “Beloved Queen of the Suzuki Piano”; without her wisdom, smile, creativity and support.
I am so grateful to have known Mary Craig as my mentor, role model, and friend. I owe her an eternal debt for her belief in me, and her encouragement to follow her path as a teacher, trainer and mentor to the next generation. She created the vision and atmosphere that kept me on this special path, and kept gently nudging me through the progress of my Teacher Trainer application. She even offered to fly to New York if needed,to help me sort out my teaching and repertoire tapes! She was truly special.
Mary Craig always knew the answers to the three most important questions in teaching: what, when and how. These seemingly simple questions require sophisticated understanding of technique, musicianship, methodology, and psychology, and are critical characteristics of a great teacher. She was able to break the hardest task into small attainable steps, and so make learning seem easy and natural.
Her love and respect for kids, and her deep understanding of their psychology were genuine and noble. When I was struggling with the dilemma of balancing high standards and student resistance, she advised me: if you need to choose between music and the child, choose the child. This important lesson has informed my teaching to this very day.
Her famous phrase: “Preparing the child for success” will always remain as the core of my teaching philosophy and goals.I have learned so much from her work with parents to encourage and improve their vital participation.
Mary Craig and her invaluable lessons are always on my mind. I am constantly asking myself, “How would Mary Craig approach this, or what would she think?”

Mary Craig was loved by so many, and her beautiful memory lives on in each of us who were lucky enough to know her. Her light will always shine in our hearts and lead us and our students to new professional and personal heights. – Marina Obukovsky, NY

I met Mary Craig Powell in 1981 when we both were teaching at a Suzuki Piano weekendworkshop in Columbus, Ohio. When I had a free hour, I slipped into her teaching room and observed as she taught a six-year-old boy playing Go Tell Aunt Rhody. As I watched this lesson, I immediately felt a kindred spirit, a beautiful heart, and great wisdom; the room was filled with love and affirmation. The parent was smiling and positive.The observers were quietly watching and taking notes. I was immediately drawn to her beautifulsoul. During lunch that day, we began to talk. We shared such common philosophies, and we became close friends.

I was drawn to her character, personality, compassion, tenderness, and attention to detail.

Through the years as we taught together at workshops and institutes,I realized that she was truly a beautiful human being in every way. She was always willing to listen to others with understanding and tenderness. I will forever be grateful to have known her as a friend and colleague.” – Rita Hauck, TX

It is hard to put into words the feeling of loss that we all experienced upon hearing of Mary Craig’s passing. How do you put into words her love of life, teaching, her ever-optimistic spirit, her love of music and the way she was able to pass it on to the many students of all ages. Her smile, infectious laugh, the twinkle in her eye, they way she looked at all children, and her finally, her accent.

How do you describe the pedagogical genius of Mary Craig? She was a true Pied Piper of the piano world. I have seen students, including my seven-year-old daughter at a masterclass and two of my own students, staring at Mary Craig with complete love in their faces. I had a feeling that if she asked them to jump out of the window, they would. And how they all practiced that week!

When Mary Craig worked with a student, it seemed as if the whole world fell away, there was nothing more important to her than being there, in a moment with each student. She always maintained an eye contact while speaking to children and had an incredible gift of holding and maintaining their attention. To Mary Craig every student had potential, every student was cherished, and every effort, no matter how feeble, was applauded and celebrated.

I had an honor of knowing Mary Craig on more personal and social level. I always admired how gracefully and graciously she fit into each situation. The first time I met her it was at Hartt Suzuki Institute, at my home during our traditional Chinese dinner. There is a tradition, which started way back by David Einfeldt, where we read the fortune cookies but with a special sentence added at the beginning, which, at times, can make the entire message rather inappropriate.

We were terribly mortified that this was the first impression Mary Craig was to about to receive of Hartt. She was arriving that very evening, the Queen of Suzuki Piano, the most dignified person I ever knew! We were hoping for her plane to arrive late so that she might miss this event. She arrived on time, had dinner and, well, it was time to play our “game.” She seemed to be enjoying it, and then it was her turn to break into her fortune cookie and read her fortune. Well, hers was the raciest, most inappropriate fortune in the history of our dinners. At first there was a stunned silence and then a roar of laughter. Mary Craig was the one who laughed the hardest.

When we tried to apologize later she shushed us and assured us she had not had that much fun in many years and loved every minute. At that moment I fell in love with her and stayed that way until this day.

We will miss you more than words can say, dearest Mary Craig. ­­­– Malgosia Lis, CT

For those who wish to remember Mary Craig Powell by supporting Suzuki piano scholarships, a Suzuki Association of the Americas memorial scholarship fund has been established in her name at the request of the family: https://suzukiassociation.org/mary-craig-powell**

See also ASJ vol. 45, no. 4, “Perspectives on Suzuki by Mary Craig Powell,” which includes an archival interview of Powell and pedagogical perspectives from outstanding Suzuki artist teachers. Read online: https://suzukiassociation.org/news/legacy-interview-mary-craig-powell/


[These could be a sidebar or callout at the bottom.]

…you inspired us through your pedagogy, your example, your servant leadership. We will pass it on. – MaryFrancis Kirsh, OH

Mary Craig was such a gracious person—always caring and considerateof others. She spoke with dignity and respect to everyone. Mary Craigtook the time to think things through, and the Suzuki Piano worldbenefited so much from her insight. I was privileged to be able to takeMary Craig’s Practicum course in 2010 and learned a great deal aboutteaching and nurturing both students and adults. – Ellen Berry, ON

MCP was the best teacher I have ever seen. Her pedagogy, organization, and relational demeanor were unparalleled. She was a true pioneer and a giant in the field of piano instruction. She was also just a wonderful lady. I am extremely grateful that my son Alex was able to study with her. – Adrielle Van Bibber (Alex Van Bibber performed the Haydn D Major Concerto with orchestra at the 2014 SAA Conference at age 10. Alex performed Schumann’s “Of Foreign Lands and People” at Mary Craig’s memorial service on February 2.)

At the insistence of Marina Obukovksy, I went to study with Mary Craig in 2015, which turned out to be her final year conducting teacher training in Columbus. My favorite memory of her took place in the break room, where we got to talking about what happens when students, who often begin lessons at age four or five, graduate high school and the piano studio. “I always cry,” she said. “I try not to, but I can just feel it coming.” She described that by this point, part of the student was part of her. Greatness arises out of insisting upon high expectation in the context of an ever-loving studio environment (and lessons that culminate with a hug). – Samantha Steitz, Graz, Austria

Mary Craig was a fountain of knowledge and kindness for those of us who took teacher training or studied with her, and her life was a blessing to all who knew her. We central Ohio teachers (Suzuki Piano Friends) were inspired by her caring to create Project Peru, and to grow as teachers and friends. Mary Craig changed lives by seeing the possibilities in people young and old. With love, much was accomplished. – Merry Bing Pruitt, OH