Piano Studio Of Karin McCullough, NCTM

Piano Studio Of Karin McCullough, NCTM

5.0 (8)
Best of 2019
1 hire on Lessons.com
1 employee
20 years in business

About this pro

Music-making is part of what fulfills us as human beings. With endless patience, I enjoy teaching my students to become musically literate, so that they can begin to correctly "decode" and beautifully play what's written on the score on their own (rather than have me "spoonfeed" them every piece, every phrase, every note), make their own arrangements, and compose their own music.

I give my students many opportunities to make music with and for others: I organize and prepare my students for at least 2 studiowide recitals a year, prepare them to perform in citywide Seattle Music Teacher Association recitals (3 times a year for adults, and 2 times a year for school-aged children), prepare them to perform in citywide Seattle Music Teacher Association festivals 2 times a year - October Festival & Sonatina Festival, prepare them to perform for free in public spaces to celebrate the anniversary of JS Bach's birth each year as part of the international Bach in the Subways celebrations, prepare them for private concerts for their family & friends over the holidays, prepare them to perform in school talent shows, & prepare them to perform in Master Classes as part of the Music Artistry Program of Washington Music Teachers Association. In addition,  at every lesson, every student has the opportunity to give me a performance, be it of just a scale or exercise or an excerpt of a piece being learned.

In addition, I offer to prepare interested students for the annual Washington State Music Association Musicianship Exams (in written theory, applied theory, technique, sightplaying, ear training/listening, and rhythm). A number of my students usually receive the highest scores and get acknowledged by having their names listed in the Washington Music Teacher Association Clarion newsletter.

I've been teaching private piano lessons to students of all ages and abililties in the Greater Seattle area fulltime since 1999 (parttime prior to that).

I am a performing solo pianist and accompanist for Ladies Musical Club of Seattle under whose auspices I give free mini-concerts (30-60 minutes) to the public in libraries, art museums, community centers, churches, and retirement homes on a nearly monthly basis.

I studied music in high school and college, taking piano lessons for many years privately from Mrs. Hurshelene Griffin of the University of Illinois University High Laboratory School at Urbana, Illinois; and from Alfred Kronacher of Musical Experiences and Tamara Friedman of Connoisseur Concerts/Musique du Jour (fka Gallery Concerts) at Seattle, Washington. I also studied voice, taking weekly lessons with composer, vocalist & organist Paul White of the National Academy of the Arts in Champaign, Illinonis, with Catherine Treadgold (mezzo soprano) formerly an instructor in the Music School at Shoreline Community College, and with Deeji Killian, formerly a comprimario with Seattle Opera. 

In addition, I have sung in three choirs & was alto leader in Oratorio Society at the University of Illinois at Krannert Center for the Performing Arts in the 1970's.

I also have years of experience of accompanying opera singers in the Greater Seattle Area.

I am an Applicant for National Music Teacher Association certification (2017-2018) and expect to receive my certification in 2018.

https://sites.google.com/site/karinmcculloughpianocom/karin-s-bio

https://www.facebook.com/Karin-McCulloughs-Piano-Studio-243423809046531/

https://www.linkedin.com/in/karin-mccullough-32811711/

Helping each student learn to make beautiful music at the piano, be it the student's own composition or arrangement or another composer's, is so much fun. I like the challenge of finding just the right music for each student rather than subjecting everyone to the same pieces. I enjoy those moments when I can see the "light bulb" click on as a student comes to understand something new. I love seeing my students rise to the challenge of polishing one or two of their favorite pieces for our periodic performance opportunities. I am inspired by the perseverance of my students when faced with difficulties. We work on solving problems together; I joke that I am waving my magic conductor's wand over their difficulties; I sprinkle humor into every lesson; we get up and dance and march around the room; we make our work fun! 

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Credentials

Seattle, WA 98117
Email verified

8 Reviews

5.0

  • Betsy Swart

    Karin has taught our 9 year-old son piano since January 2017. Karin incorporates games, tricks, and ingenious tips to teach theory and technique. She arranges outings to enrich her students’ musical education and exposure. She holds friendly competitions to motivate learning skills (e.g. scales), and arranges recital rehearsals to foster comfort with public performance. Parents are encouraged to attend lessons with children, so we get to observe her approach first-hand. At every lesson she observes or shares something with our son that impresses and inspires us all. My son is flourishing at the piano, in his interest, confidence, technique, and style. Though he may resist practicing at home sometimes, he’s always eager to have a lesson with Karin! She communicates clearly and is a pleasure to do business with. Karin McCullough has rightfully earned her reputation as a remarkable piano teacher!

  • Carole Rush

    Her willingness to teach using music of the student's choice. Her emphasis on theory. Her expectations for improvement--and teaching to the level of the student, adding more techniques and instructions as the student learns. Her positive reinforcements for progress.

  • Melissa Meier Oquist

    My daughter has been taking lessons for 3+ years with Karin. Karin is upbeat, encouraging and knows her stuff!! She also allows parents to be present for lessons whick are comfortably in her front room- Ofall my daughters piano teachers??? Karin is the best!!

  • Dan Millar

    Karin is a supremely gifted, creative, wise, and accomplished teacher and performer, who is able to help me solve all kinds of problems, and especially help me with performance problems.


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FAQs


What is your typical process for working with a new student?

If the student is brand new to music lessons, at the first lesson I typically teach the student (1) how to correctly sit at the piano, (2) that moving to the right on the keyboard gives us higher pitches and moving to the left on the keyboard gives us lower pitches, (3) to notice that black keys are in alternating groups of 2 and 3 keys, (4) how we number our fingers, (5) how to use our arms, hands and fingers to play the keys, (6) to play Hot Cross Buns with either hand, (7) to recognize and count one beat, two beat and four beat rhythms. Either at this first lesson or the next lesson, I teach the student the musical alphabet goes from A to G and then starts all over again. I have the student play each white key from the lowest on the piano to the highest, naming each each while playing it. Then I teach a memory device for more easily finding all the C's on the piano (find the "black lacquered chopsticks" and notice that the "chopsticks" begin with the key called C); then we do C races up and down the keyboard (the assignment for the following lesson is to play only all the C's cleanly in 10 seconds or less). Next I teach a memory device for more easily finding all the F's on the piano (find the black tines of a fork and notice that the "fork" begins with the key called F; then we do F races as we did for C's. Each lesson I introduce the naming of a new key's letter for a new round of "races." Once I've introduced the student to the musical alphabet, I start writing out and teaching the student his or her choice of famous songs using letter names inside note circles indicating the correct rhythm, for example, for: Mary Had a Little Lamb, Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, Old MacDonald Had a Farm, Frere Jacques, Beethoven's Ode to Joy, and Happy Birthday to You. After a few weeks, I feel I have a better sense of how the student learns and I suggest a particular method book for the parent or guardian to purchase. Usually I give each student 3 assignments. Ideally one assignment is brand new but we've gone over the material together in the lesson so it's not too scary to take home and practice it; one assignment is to make corrections to a piece the student is learning; one assignment is to put the finishing touches on a piece already learned and come prepared to perform it for me at the next lesson. In addition I assign an exercise that will make learning new music come more easily. I give my students fun stickers for answering "discovery" questions, for doing "three times in a row" challenges with me, for making good progress, & for doing extra credit. I let my students pick colors for their "Star System:" if they play an exercise or piece for me "performance perfect" at their next lesson, they get a rare and precious gold star (it's up to the parent or guardian to decide how many gold stars merit a reward and what that reward might be - a hug, a toy, a treat, a concert outing); if they need 2 tries, they get their favorite color; I allow up to 5 tries if the student wishes. Any color of star (be it the first or the fifth color) awarded by me, I tell them, is good!


What education and/or training do you have that relates to your work?

I studied music in high school and college, taking piano lessons for many years privately from Mrs. Hurshelene Griffin of the University of Illinois University High Laboratory School at Urbana, Illinois; and from Alfred Kronacher of Musical Experiences and Tamara Friedman of Connoisseur Concerts/Musique du Jour (fka Gallery Concerts) at Seattle, Washington. I also studied voice, taking weekly lessons with composer, vocalist & organist Paul White of the National Academy of the Arts in Champaign, Illinois, with Catherine Treadgold (mezzo soprano) formerly an instructor in the Music School at Shoreline Community College, and with Deeji Killian, formerly a comprimario with Seattle Opera. 

In addition, I have sung in three choirs & was alto leader in Oratorio Society at the University of Illinois at Krannert Center for the Performing Arts in the 1970's.

I also have years of experience of accompanying opera singers in the Greater Seattle Area.

I am a Nationally Certified Teacher of Music in Piano.


Do you have a standard pricing system for your lessons? If so, please share the details here.

Tuition for the "regular" term (September 1 through June 30) is $1,400, for 4 regular weekly half hour private lessons each month, payable in full, or 50% on each of September 1 and February 1, or in 10 installments of $140 each due on the first day of each month in the regular term (with a grace period through the date of the first regularly scheduled lesson). In addition, the student's family pays for most lesson books and extracurricular events (such as studiowide hall rental for recitals; registration for Sonatina Festival & October Festival, statewide musicianship exams; participation in the Washington State Music Artistry Program) but participation in my studiowide rehearsals is included. 


How did you get started teaching?

While still working as a corporate law paralegal in a downtown Seattle law firm, I had a regular weekly Friday night gig at an Italian bistro where I accompanied Seattle Opera singers, soloists and small ensembles. To entertain the restaurant's diners, I would accompany the singers in one famous piece, and then I'd play about 15 minutes of solo classical piano music until the next operatic selection. Patrons began asking me to teach their children and grandchildren; my law office coworkers asked me to teach their children; my neighbors said they threw open their doors and windows whenever I practiced so as to better listen to me and asked me if I'd teach their children and grandchildren. Before long, I was teaching enough students in my piano studio to feel comfortable in my decision to quit working as a paralegal and instead pursue a fulltime career as a piano teacher and performer. I feel as if this is what I was born to do and am so thankful to have had this chance to redirect my energies to what's most important: sharing the love of music!


What types of students have you worked with?

I have worked with students of all ages and talents and abilities, from those somewhere on the autism spectrum or with learning difficulties to those preternaturally gifted in music, and I have enjoyed lessons with all of them. For students' familiies who have financial difficulty affording lessons, I have so far always been successful in getting scholarship grants for earnest students of any ability.


Describe a recent event you are fond of.

My studio just recently gave its annual autumn recital. This year we held it in a recording studio: Jack Straw Cultural Center, so by the end of the recital, I was able to electronically send every participant's family both a professional audio and an audio/visual recording of the afternoon's recital. For recital, I let my students choose one or two of their favorite pieces learned since our last recital that they most want to share with others, provided the student is willing to work with me for several weeks to make their performance as good as can be. As we approach the recital date, I have my students arrive 5 minutes early and stay 5 minutes late for their weekly lessons so they can practice performing their recital pieces for the students who come before them and after them. The week before the recital, I offer daily free 30-minute rehearsal at my house where we go around the room twice practicing performing (including applauding for others and bowing in acknowledgment) for about half a dozen other students. At the recital I ask the performers to make an indentation in their programs whenever they hear a piece they'd like to learn someday, and to bring that program to their next lesson so I can keep a log of the pieces I will teach them when they are ready for that level. After the recital performance, we have a party with homemade food and drink brought by volunteer families, so everyone has a chance to get to know each other better, pay compliments, and celebrate a day of musicmaking. Often students will come up to me at this post-concert reception and ask me eagerly when is the next recital scheduled for!


What advice would you give a student looking to hire a teacher in your area of expertise?

Pay for a trial first lesson with any prospective teacher. Be sure to have a parent or guardian sit in on the whole lesson so you can better get a feel for the teacher/student relationship. Give preference to a teacher affiliated with or certified by a federal, state or local music teachers association because that teacher probably shows an interest in keeping current and open to teaching ideas shared with other professional teachers. Listen to the teacher play the piano - do you like the teacher's performance? Ask for a policy letter so there are fewer surprises down the road.


What questions should students think through before talking to teachers about their needs?

Is the prospective piano student willing to practice the assignments every day he or she sleeps at home (and thus has access to a piano)?

Does the family rent or own a full-sized keyboard with at least a damper pedal attachment and with weighted keys?

Does the prospective student's schedule permit the addition of adequate time for daily music practice? I generally advise a minimum of 10 minutes/day of "smart, focussed practice" for primer level, adding 10 minutes/day for each higher level, up to 30 minutes/day for a student not wishing a career in music but up to 2 hours/day for a student wanting to pursue music as a career.


Lessons offered