Ella Marie Jensen Marten

Honored by:Lori Nelson
Brick location:F:3  map

Former students of Ella Marten Ella Marie Jensen was born on August 24, 1927 in Enumclaw, Washington a community of Danish Americans located near Mt. Rainier. For most of her childhood she lived in Newell, Iowa another Danish American community. Ella graduated from high school in 1945 and attended the Sherwood School of Music in Chicago traveling between home and school by train. She was employed as an organist at the Danish Lutheran Church in Chicago and she began giving piano lessons in 1950.

She met her future husband Gilbert Marten on a blind date arranged by her piano teacher in Storm Lake (who had taught both of them). After she received her Master's degree from Sherwood in 1951 Ella and Gil moved to Iowa Falls and then to Boone, Iowa. They had two children Kai and Cynthia. Ella worked as an organist at Augustana Lutheran Church in Boone and gave piano lessons to a growing number of students. They later moved to Ames where Ella continued to teach piano to students of all ages. Ella also played the organ for two Lutheran churches in Ames. After 40 years of teaching piano Ella retired in 1990.

She is an avid flower gardener and enjoys spending time with her grandchildren. When we were children, Ella was known to us as Mrs. Marten. We each began taking weekly piano lessons from her in kindergarten and only quit when we left Ames to attend college. During those years as we grew older we gradually came to realize and appreciate Mrs. Marten's dedication to teaching and her remarkable patience. She always found something positive to say about our playing successfully motivated us to practice and encouraged us to challenge ourselves. Mrs. Marten supported her students' development of individual tastes in musical style by giving them choices about what to play. At the same time she subtly broadened our interests so that we learned to appreciate many different kinds of music.

In each piece of music she played for us she demonstrated the magic that could come from a simple printed page and she made us feel confident that we too with enough practice would be able to play that wonderful piece of music. The lessons did not start or stop at the piano as we browsed through her books played with her cat, Maxfield, and discussed the souvenirs from her trip to Denmark.

Mrs. Marten's smile, sense of humor (even when we hadn't practiced) and small gifts showed how much she cared about her students. There were colorful stickers for our lesson books when we were younger, popsicles on hot days and the coveted homemade gingerbread men each Christmas. But Mrs. Marten's most enduring gift to us was the experience of being involved in music and the exhilaration that comes from being able to create music. The lessons Ella Marten taught us will always remain with us.