My Approach

My Approach To Guiding You On Your Musical Journey

What is it like to study with Mary Ellen Grace? On this page I’ll tell you the kind of results my students have reported. I’ll also give you a sense of my guiding beliefs, teaching approach, and how I’m different from other saxophone and clarinet teachers.

Meg is very good at accentuating the positive. She finds what I’m doing that works and helps me to improve from that place. When I first started playing, I was squawking. She provides encouragement for me to make music at every level of learning.

Kate Richardson
Playing soprano sax
Photographed by Sharon Thomas

When you work with me, you can expect improvements in tone quality, intonation, finger technique, phrasing, rhythm, and expression. You’ll re-connect with your inner musician, become confident in your playing and enjoy making music again. You’ll learn to read music while developing a solid foundation in musical skills. I cover proper care of your instrument. You’ll also be taught the difference between cane and synthetic reeds and genuine handling of each.

Many school-age students want to advance to the next level band at school. Studying with me, band members have improved their playing ability to the next grade level and passed the audition from Beginning to Intermediate Band or Intermediate to Advanced Band.

New students, being inexperienced in fundamentals of playing an instrument, receive rich guidance in these basics. As a result of working with me, they find great enjoyment in practicing and end up playing their chosen instrument more of the time. As confidence in playing ability grows, students pursue more playing experiences.

Intermediate-level students, those who have been playing for 2-3 years, achieve superior tone quality as a result of studying their instrument with me. You will learn proper finger technique, how to play in tune, and become more expressive in your playing.

Music becomes fun. The experience of making music becomes rich and your appreciation of all types of music will thrive in this learning environment.

Marcus 2017

It’s cool to learn music!

Saxophone lessons have made a big difference in my life. It’s cool to learn music!

If you are someone who needs to take things slowly, she is the right teacher for you. She is friendly, flexible and a good saxophone teacher.

Marcus Matsumura

Guiding beliefs

Music enriches the soul. Playing the saxophone and clarinet are activities that:

  • provide health benefits for the player and the listener
  • improve study habits and cognitive skills
  • foster social interaction and social aptitude
  • and produce a more positive condition of the mind.

I work individually with students in a nurturing environment to provide these enriching experiences.

Every human is inherently musical. From the earliest sounds we make as infants, we are making music. What is music after all, but rhythm and pitch? Notice the “tempo” at which you walk to school or work. Listen to the variety of “pitch” in your laughter. Observe the “rhythm” in the speech of yourself and your friends. I nurture my students’ musical skills through a variety of paths.

My Approach

My approach is is to foster an encouraging learning environment. As the gardener knows, you plant a seed, water it, put it in the sun, and wait. When the first sprout breaks through the soil, you support its growth. With time, nurturing and cultivation, the plant bears fruit. The same is true with your study of a musical instrument.


My husband and I have been very impressed with the music knowledge and appreciation Meg has passed along to our two children, in the course of greatly improving their skill on the alto sax and clarinet.

Janet Schultz, parent to Emily (at right) and Peter

How am I different from other music teachers?

Mistakes are welcome here. Many instructors put undue pressure upon students to perform to perfection. I acknowledge that everyone makes mistakes, myself included. Plenty of learning occurs in this no stress environment. When you give yourself permission to make errors, wonderful things happen. You become relaxed and relaxed people make extraordinary music!

Are you ready?

If you’re ready to set up an initial lesson, use the form on my Contact page or call me at 503-888-5796.

Now that you have a better idea about the results you can expect by working with me and my approach and philosophy of working with students, go to my Services page to learn about the specific services and programs I offer.