Maria is a fine musician and lovely woman with a contagious smile and sparkling eyes, who exudes an aura of joy whenever she plays!
She was born in Bluefield, West Virginia, but she didn’t live there long. Her father was the kind of doctor that hardly exists anymore….a “Rural Doctor”…. and since there was no hospital in West Virginia at the time, he was very busy providing all the health care he could to the West Virginia residents. Because of the need for her father’s kind of work, the family moved often.
When her father was assigned as physician to the Peace Corps Volunteers in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, the family moved with him, and Maria became very fluent in Spanish by “talking to neighbors over the fence,” she says with a laugh.
Her mother and father are both quite musical. She said her father has a “great bass voice”, and loved to harmonize on hymns. Her mother is a very accomplished pianist and an artist who lives in Tucson now, specializing in gaily painted furniture in the Mexican style. Her mother painted the beautiful old violin you can see on the AZPhil.org website.
When she was 13 years old, Maria fell in love with the Marimba. Her mother didn’t have much money, but somehow she found a student model marimba and a teacher for Maria. In about 2008, Maria confessed to her husband, Henry, that she badly wanted a “real” marimba, which she was sure was beyond their means at the time. He went on Craig’s List and found a guy in Washington, D.C. who had bought one for his daughter, but she no longer played it. The owner was thrilled that a professional musician would be playing it, and sold it to them for a very good price!
Maria also loves Timpani. “I am all about the low notes,” she said with a grin. She had access to professional timpani drums through her Master’s program, but for practice at home, “I had basically tin cans with drum heads on them,” she told me. She finally acquired a “decent set of timps” to practice on, but she uses an orchestra’s much finer instrument whenever she performs with the group.
Maria teaches percussion, piano, clarinet, and flute, and whenever she mentions her students, her face absolutely shines! It is very evident how much she loves teaching. I asked her if there was any age group she prefers to teach. She has students from Elementary school through High School, and although she enjoys them all in different ways, she especially enjoys teaching upper middle high school students because “they are finding their passions.”
She is a classical musician, but she enjoys all kinds of music, including Fusion Jazz, World Music, and especially Spanish Guitar and the Spanish composers. Her favorite activities outside of music are reading, taking long walks, and spending time with her family.
She and her husband, Henry, perform as “Sticks and Tones” for kids at libraries and schools. I attended one of their events for very young children at the Prescott Library, and it was so much fun to watch how the children react to the music! It is quite possible Henry and Maria are inspiring some future musicians!!!
You can find out more about Maria on her website, MariaFlurry.com.