Merrie (on the left) and Nan with Their Great Grandmother’s Piano
Merrie Crawford Skaggs and Nan Crawford Funkhouser founded MerrieNan Melodies. The sisters share a dream to teach children and adults (of all ages) to learn to read music. They believe you can learn joyously and early–or later–in life, and that learning to read music gives you confidence and independence with music. They both learned to play on this beloved pre-1900 piano. Merrie was 12 years old when she taught 4-year-old Nan to read music. All four of Merrie’s daughters learned to play on this same instrument. And now Merrie’s granddaughters are learning to play on this dear old piano with the MerrieNan Melodies approach.
Betty Todd Smith Joins the MNM Team
Betty Todd Smith joined Merrie and Nan in 2017 as a contributor, editor, and collaborator on the revised MerrieNan Melodies program. Betty’s wealth of knowledge and experience as a successful piano teacher for over 40 years enhanced and strengthened the newly revised MerrieNan Melodies program. Nan and Merrie are thrilled to have Betty on the MNM team!
Betty used MerrieNan Melodies materials for years in her piano studio before formally joining the creative process for a major revision of the program. She likes the foundational focus of MNM: MerrieNan Melodies teaches music literary via the keyboard. Learning to read music will serve students well as they go on to play the piano or other instruments.
Nan started taking piano lessons when she was four years old. In junior high school, she chose the French horn. Nan graduated from Wichita State University with a bachelor’s degree in Music Performance and a minor in Piano Performance. She played French horn with the Kansas City Symphony for 25 years and also has taught both French horn and piano for over 30 years. One role Nan plays with MerrieNan Melodies is to come up with new music that helps students learn.
Merrie has been an educator her entire career, starting out in public schools and culminating at Baker University. She holds a Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction and was the Chair of the Undergraduate School of Education at Baker for four years. She has been a big part of making sure the materials in the program are educationally sound.
Originally from Tulsa, Oklahoma, Betty Todd Smith is an MTNA Permanent Nationally Certified Teacher of piano with a BA in Music (piano, voice) from Abilene Christian University and a MMusic in Piano Performance from Arizona State University. She completed all levels of Suzuki piano teacher training and Musikgarten curriculum. Betty founded and directed the Piano and Pre-school Music Departments for the Tulsa Institute for Music Education, Inc., and developed music curriculum for Undercroft Montessori School in Tulsa. She directed early childhood music programs at various Montessori schools as well as Pembroke Hill in the Kansas City area. Currently, Betty is District One President of Kansas Music Teachers Association and area Chairman for the National Piano Guild. She teaches traditional and Suzuki piano to students ranging from age three to adult; has presented workshop sessions at national and state conventions; adjudicates; and enjoys collaborative performances.
Merrie Crawford Skaggs and Nan Crawford Funkhouser are sisters who collaborated on the creation of MerrieNan Melodies. Nan and Merrie had great fun creating a different approach to teaching music. Their respective professional fields of music and education complemented each other in the creation of MerrieNan Melodies. With the addition of Betty Todd Smith, the expanded collaboration created an even stronger, more balanced team made up of a career piano teacher (Betty), a professional musician (Nan), and a lifelong educator (Merrie). Betty, Nan, and Merrie are all interested in supporting the joyful education of music students of all ages.
The name “MerrieNan” is the name their parents gave to the 33-foot Chris Craft cabin cruiser they owned when Merrie was 16 and Nan was 9. The family spent a summer out on Tablerock Lake in Missouri where their father was building boat ramps and other amenities for state parks. The name MerrieNan became synonymous with long summer weeks out on the water making happy memories. Merrie and Nan revived the name for their company in the hopes that the MerrieNan Melodies program will bring joyous memories and “smooth sailing” to music students.
“MerrieNan Melodies teaches music literacy via the keyboard.” This vision includes the idea that all people regardless of age or background can learn to read music easily and joyfully in order to enrich their lives.
Read more about our unique approach