Russell Cowley, MFA


Russell began his own adult journey by earning a degree in Music Performance from DePaul University, and an MFA from the California Institute of the arts. Since then, he has worked with teens as a teacher and mentor. He first began teaching college music courses at CalArts, and as a private music instructor. Most recently he augmented his educational practice by becoming a certified public-school teacher in mathematics. During this time, he developed a reputation as an honest, yet hopeful, realist. Students sought him out as a teacher/mentor for his calm, direct, fair approach to interacting with students. Many consulted with him about life's bigger issues in his philosophy class and learned about culture and the beauty of life through his music and art classes.

Over the years Russell has learned that his passion lies with helping those students struggling the most and has, thus, come to MSPA to give his heart and mind to this work. In his personal life, Russell has 4 step-children of his own, an awesome wife, paints abstract paintings, cooks, hikes, camps, and records his own music in his home studio. He also spends a lot of time studying philosophy, psychology, neurology, human behavior, and various world religions. To him, the most interesting thing in life is to ask big, hard questions about existence and find positive, practical, meaningful ways to engage with the world.

Despite all the deep thinking, Russell loves a good joke to lighten the mood. He will often look for a moment to make others laugh, whether at something he says, or just at himself being a bit (or a lot) awkward. Having performed thousands of times he is fearless when it comes to interacting with people. Although, strangely, he is an introvert by nature and loves nothing more than to talk to one or 2 people in a relaxed setting where everyone can be themselves and speak their minds. He looks forward to many such opportunities with the brilliant young people at MSPA.