Mark Wurzelbacher

My day job is being a piano teacher and a freelance musical director/accompanist/arranger/composer—pretty much anything that someone needs that has to do with music.

My piano students are currently all children, ranging in age from 5-18. It’s fascinating to see how differently you need to speak and work with a five-year-old vs. a high school student! One thing I’ve really tried to stress with all my kids is the reality of struggling as you master a new skill. I teach them the mantra, “Mistakes mean you’re learning,” and it’s interesting to watch how hard it can be for some of them to say that. They believe that they have to be good at something right away and it can be very difficult for them to get those words out. But over time, they embrace the meaning and become much more comfortable learning.

I’ve also been doing quite a bit of composing of late. My latest project is something I’ve been calling “digging in the archives.” It’s going to be a rediscovered “lost” operetta by Gilbert and Sullivan about the 2016 election—like P.D.Q. Bach, which is a sort of myth a composer named Peter Schickele created to share the “lost” Bach pieces. I’m working with Music Theatre of Madison and there will be a reading on November 2nd at The Brink Lounge. Check it out!

My most memorable caffeine is simply the fact that I didn’t start to really drink coffee until my then-girlfriend, now wife, introduced me to it in college. Now I’m more addicted than she is!

My current caffeine of choice is simply a hot coffee, preferably something from Kickapoo Coffee Roasters.

My favorite place for caffeine is Indie Coffee on Regent Street. It’s close to my apartment and I love sitting on their backyard patio on a nice day.

 The person I’d love to share a cup of caffeine with is Stephen Sondheim. Everything he does as a writer, a composer and a lyricist is so inspiring to me. His attention to detail serves the greater artistic whole and you can enjoy his music whether you dive in deep or just enjoy it on a surface level. I don’t even know exactly what I’d talk to him about—I’d just like to have a cup of coffee and soak up his presence!

World problem that could be solved with the right amount of caffeine:  There are so many that it’s really hard to pick. But here’s an easy one: grogginess!