A Tale of Two Slonikers
On the lighter side...
A bio, sort of...
Mark Sloniker grew up (or failed to grow up – as the case may be) in Cincinnati Ohio. His grandfather worked for The Baldwin Piano Company. An upright piano occupied a corner of the family's living room. And every night at bed time Mark's mother would call the fire fighters over to the house with their "jaws of life" extraction tool to separate Mark from the piano and get him to bed.
At an early age he was sent down the street for lessons. Mark however did not fancy the black dots on the page (he would hold the lesson book close to his ear and say "how is it they call this music?… I can't hear a thing!). And so it came to pass, Mark exited the formal-training-highway-of-music in favor of an informal backroads-back-alley-back-country approach. Play by ear. Play by the seat of your pants. Go to a movie and bring home the themes in your head and figure them out on the old Baldwin. A sizable repertoire ensued. But something darker and more foreboding lurked on the horizon. It had a name and they called it the trombone.
At this time in America, the famed Hollywood Director Ron Howard was a child actor of television and screen. When America fell in love with the lovable lisping Winthrop (played by Ron) Mark fell for the band (all that brass) – Marching Band Brass, the Tijuana Brass. Bras (and what was behind them) might have piqued his curiosity but brass captured his heart. Horns were hip to him. And so it came to pass that Mark enrolled in fifth grade band. He picked the trumpet, just like Winthrop. "Your lips are too big for trumpet" the band director buggled, "but they're just right for the trombone! Even if we will need to attach a string to your finger and the slide in order for you to reach seventh position."
Tromboning became a second language for Mark, or maybe a third or fourth language – maybe Pig-Latin. He ended up studying trombone with the esteemed bass trombonist for the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, Betty Glover. At that point in time, Ms. Glover was one of the few women to occupy a seat in the brass section of a major symphony orchestra, much less a seat in the lower brass section. She was a serious player and a stern teacher. Some students didn't make it through the first or second lesson, but Mark buckled down and continued with her for three years (string and all).
In the meantime, he continued to play piano on his own and he began to compose music. Pieces for piano and other instruments that had several movements and modulated to different keys were mapped out with those same black dots he once despised. One day as Mark's mother heard him piano-ing, she (wise woman that she was) encouraged Mark to take his compositions to Ms. Glover and play them for her. As Mark finished performing one of his compositions for Ms. Glover on her baby grand, she slowly put the score down and after a long, long pause said, "For three years, I knew there was music in you, and it sure as hell wasn't coming out of the trombone!" Ms. Glover personally took Mark to meet the composition faculty at the College Conservatory of Music at the University of Cincinnati where, two years later, he was admitted as a freshman composition major. Thus concluded Mark's journey with the trombone (more or less).
Academia et al…
At the end of his freshman year, the college alerted Mark's mother that he had been placed on the dean's list, to which she replied, "Well, in high school he was on the principal's list most of the time!" Mark studied diligently at U.C.s C.C.M. and eventually studied also at The College of Creative Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara, The Berklee College of Music in Boston, MA, and at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, CO.
Ensuing years witnessed Mark's propensity to waltz from college to college or boogaloo around the country, playing on the road as it were, until he joined the jazz fusion group, Kinesis (based in Fort Collins). Kinesis played concert dates on many college campuses around the U.S. and Canada and jazz festivals in Toronto and Disneyland!
After Kinesis, Mark earned a degree in Music Therapy at Colorado State University. He worked with children in psychiatric care and elderly people in hospice care for a while. In 1986, Mark turned down a job (a job he had worked so hard for) in a Neurology clinic, as a music therapist in the area of psycho-neuro-immunology (say that three times fast) in order (or would that be disorder?) to pursue or re-pursue his love of playing and recording music.
To make a long story short (too late!):
In the late 1980s he self-produced his first recording "Paths of Heart" and has gone on to make many more recordings. Some have made it onto the national sales charts in Billboard Magazine (and some have not). Some have enjoyed radio air play all over the world and been in movies and on television etc. etc. etc. Some have not (etc.).
The happy ending part…
The latest recording, "Miracles… and other works of heart" is a collaboration with his wife Colleen Crosson. They have two children who double as sage spiritual teachers (please don't tell them this). They love life and everyone in it (most of the time) and attempt to teach peace and love through their music, while attempting to learn those same things from everyone and everything (after all, it's a big subject). Thus ends the reading (and hopefully, the writing). Onto more music – "full speed ahead – or warp factor 3 – your choice – steady as she goes – merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily, gently down the stream…"
Seriously now... (Mark's Professional Bio)
Mark Sloniker has made music in many diverse settings over the course of his life. From solo piano performances to jazz trios/quartets, to symphony orchestra concerts, Mark has played and recorded in the U.S. and abroad.
As a producer/composer/recording artist, Mark has made five recordings (CDs) of his own and contributed to many recordings as a "side man" or composer. He has just completed a 6th recording with his wife and fellow musician, Colleen Crosson, entitled "Miracles… and other works of heart", a soulful album crossing many musical genres. His own recordings have reached the "top six" of three national radio airplay charts (R&R, Gavin, and the MAC Report) as well as spending time on Billboard Magazine's national sales charts. His music has received extensive air play outside of the U.S. as well (Spain, Germany, Japan, Canada, the Philippines). Music from Mark's CD "Perfectly Human" was featured on ESPN's "Make a Wish" program and on ABC Sports. "Paths of Heart" and "True Nature" were featured on the nationally syndicated radio show "Music from the Hearts of Space". His CD "Do Whatcha Love" was voted best jazz recording of the year (1995) in KUNC's "Classics of 95". His music has also been featured on such nationally aired radio shows as Jazz Tracks, Musical Starstreams, and has appeared in Jazziz Magazine's top national radio air play charts.
Mark has a degree in Music Therapy from Colorado State University and has worked extensively using music as a therapeutic tool in achieving/maintaining wellness. He has worked with Doctors (MDs), Psychologists, and many practitioners in the healing fields bringing music to many who wish to do healing work in this way. He has recorded music for this purpose as well as presented and taught in workshops and seminars.
Mark's (self described) biggest/best co-production is that of his two children, Myles and Emma. With co producer/wife Colleen, he has the honor and privilege of co-creating a wonderful symphony of harmonies and at times dissonances (a work in progress) in the most beautiful of all unfolding works of art.