He who binds to himself a joy does the winged life destroy, but he who kisses the joy as it flies, lives in eternity’s sunrise. William Blake

“I truly love music, theory and composition.  It is amazing how the composer expresses the depth of emotion within a structure balanced by mathematical precepts which have been with us through-out human history.  I love the process of enabling students to express their own individual voices in the language of music”.

Statements from Molly’s students

Gracie Coates
“Molly was so incredibly instrumental to me in finding my own sound.  Never limiting my exploration, she showed me endless paths I could take to find my way.  She gave me the confidence to go toward the unknown, to pursue my sonic curiosities most especially when I didn’t know where they’d take me.   She taught me to create with abandon and intuition, and for that I am eternally grateful.”

Harry Whitney
“I cannot think of a more important musical mentor in my life than Molly Axtmann. Hardly a day goes by that I do not think about something she taught me. As a music teacher now, I appreciate how truly gifted she is in meeting students where they are at. She is an amazing composer and pianist.  She instilled a lifelong love of music in me, and modeled creativity and a life in music lived well. She gave me technical foundation to pursue a life in music myself. I am so very grateful that I got to study with Molly.”
Harry teaching at SFC
Harry’s music

Niko Umar Durr
“Molly is one of the biggest reasons I am the musician I am today. Not only did she help me develop my musical language better but thanks to her, I was actually able to hear my early work with my own ears through Strings’ Young Composers concerts. I couldn’t be more grateful for the opportunities she gave me as a teacher. Thanks, Molly!”
Niko’s orchestral composition Oakland Civic Orchestra

Niko’s music

Stephen Spies
“I don’t think I would have gone down the road of music composition if it hadn’t been for Molly Axtmann. She encouraged me and helped me learn how to improvise, score music to film, and explore my creativity. She helped me learn how to take musical ideas and put them together into a cohesive piece of music, as well as become fluent in notation software and professionally create and present scores. Absolutely one of the most encouraging, and helpful teachers I’ve ever had!”

Preben Antonsen
“In Molly’s studio, piano playing and improvisation games were seamlessly combined with a rigorous, methodical study of harmony and counterpoint, such that the childish imagination and the intellectual demands of learning were not opposed, but gathered into a single world of musical inquiry. I could not have received a better or more enduring foundation.”

Michael Dalby
“Molly and I studied the 48 Preludes and Fugues of J.S. Bach together for several years, enjoying a great musical and intellectual friendship. Her knowledge and interpretative skill at the piano made this experience a highlight of my life.”

Koharu Sakiyama
“Molly taught me the joy of writing and the amazing gift of sharing my music with others. I learned so much and loved every moment I got to write and work on pieces with her. Composing has become my biggest passion now and I would not be the musician and composer I am today without Molly’s constant support and encouragement.”
Koharu’s orchestral piece
Suite du Cirque.mp3

Cora Ballek
“Molly is an amazing piano and composition teacher who approaches her lessons with kindness, great insight, and deep dedication to her students. Her advice continues to inform my writing and playing.”



Young Composers Concert at Strings.




Faculty positions

Mannes College of Music (1974-77), San Francisco Conservatory (1977-1983), San Francisco Community Music Center (1977-1992) where she created a scholarship program for dedicated young musicians, The Crowden School (2000-2005), Crowden Center for Music in the Community as part of The John Adams Young Composers Program (2007-2015). Private instruction since 1965.

At Strings Molly produced Young Composers Concerts: 2001-2011 featuring young composers performing their own and colleagues compositions.