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Maggie Dixon wanted a music lesson with Mark O'Connor...and found a new life / Charlotte Observer

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Mark O'Connor did his best to dissuade Maggie Dixon, a Peabody Conservatory student with strong classical chops. But like a fairy tale heroine separating grains of sand from grains of gold, she passed his grueling test. And after one day of duetting with her, he invited her to Singapore to join him in a piece he re-orchestrated. Within six months, they married. Within 12 more, they were anchoring The O'Connor Band, a family unit that tours and records.

She typifies artists he aims to nurture through the O'Connor Method: playing since elementary school, instilled with a desire to improvise and create, loving music from bluegrass to Brahms. "I couldn't understand," she says of classmates in her high school orchestra, "why kids hadn't learned how to play the 12-bar blues."

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