December 18, 2012

Ruled by Rhythm: Welcoming Mark Powers as Our 2013 On-Stage Host
Category: 2013 Event, On-Stage Hosts

Mark Powers

Mark Powers is ruled by rhythm. Beats and jives, flows and measures, vibes and shakes. Fast, slow, loud, soft: it doesn’t matter. This is what he lives for.

TEDxConcordiaUPortland (now known as TEDxMtHood) is proud to announce that percussionist Mark Powers, who can be found at, will be the On Stage Host for the upcoming March 2013 event. Mark, who was a speaker at the 2012 event, brings a certain magnetism to the stage—a magnetism that stems from the up and down rhythms of his own life.

For Mark, drumbeats might be what the rhythmic sound of breathing would be for the rest of us: constant, necessary and a part of life. His love for percussion can be traced back to one seemingly trivial decision by his mother when he was in the 5th grade. At the time his main interests were trumpet and drums.

“I remember going to check out instruments with my mother at my school,” he says. “I think that, at that time in my life, she probably thought it was another one of my passing interests. Drum sticks and practice pads were cheaper to rent, and quieter than the trumpet, so we decided to go with those.”

The rest is history.

As a drum instructor, speaker, writer and educator, Powers certainly knows a thing or two about life’s velocity, which is this year’s TEDxConcordiaUPortland (now known as TEDxMtHood) theme.

Mark PowersMark, a Midwest transplant, came to Oregon six-and-a-half years ago after being offered a job teaching drum lessons in Salem. Teaching private drum lessons was what he knew: it was comfortable and it was a good living. But after a decade and a half, Powers realized his life wasn’t moving in the trajectory he wanted. Though he says he will always love teaching, Mark was playing drums less and less for himself and his own personal enrichment.

So, a change in velocity was just what the doctor ordered. For two or three years he kept telling himself he’d make a change, but getting up the courage to actually do so was easier said than done.

“’Opportunities multiply as they are seized.’ It’s a quote from Sun Tzu,” Mark says, as he spins his mug, at Portland’s Case Study Coffee. “I think about it all the time, about taking action. None of us accomplish what we want to do, until we decide to take the risk and jump into it.”

And this is exactly what he did. After 15 years of teaching drum lessons, living in a fairly steady routine, he decided to change it all. On April 11, 2011, his birthday, he set a goal: in one year he would quit the comfortable routine and delve into the unknown. It was risky, it was nerve-racking, and it was totally worth it.

“I made the decision to reinvent things,” explains Mark. “After I committed to that, everything was set into motion.”

A change in velocity began happening sooner than he thought: in just a few months he was in Omaha, teaching 2,000 students music for three weeks. Then, he jetted off to Kuwait City, where he worked as Artist-in-Residence at an International School, also teaching percussion. Next was the South Pacific where he performed for four months on a cruise ship, based out of Brisbane, Australia.

Finally, Mark ended up back in Portland, and before the dust had settled (8 days after his arrival) he took a job performing with a group in Seattle. He and his three bandmates perform as three groups of different genres: The Afrodisiacs, The Spazmatics, and Mr. Pink—which he describes as “disco,” “80’s nerd rock,” and “modern dance/pop,” respectively.

“I’m super excited to be involved with TEDx in this capacity,” he says, about his new role as On Stage Host. “TEDx is like this explosion that takes place. It inspires the people at the event … and via the web videos, writing and other channels, it inspires many other people, as well. An event like this has an incredible reach.”

TEDxConcordiaUPortland (now known as TEDxMtHood) is thrilled to have Mark host our 2013 event. Planning on attending? Don’t be surprised if Mark’s infectious energy makes you leave feeling a new rhythm in your step.

Leah Olson

Leah is the Executive Director of FACES Foundation, a non-profit that provides cleft lip and palate and facial reconstructive surgery to indigent, medically-isolated patients in South America. She enjoys Himalayan peaks, big Asian cities, thick Russian novels, long, soggy runs, and writing about Portland’s finest as a TEDxConcordiaUPortland Storyteller.