What People are saying
About sax and clarinet lessons with Mary Ellen “Meg” Grace
Students and clients share their experience of learning with Mary Ellen: Chris & Cara | Brian Harris | Becky Einolf | Kate Richardson | Deedie Bassham | Katy Kimes | Jacob Galash | Jan Corwin | Peter Kurtz | Jacy Clare | Janet Schultz | Marty Hope | Georgia Hastie | Tom Shuell | Jen Patterson | Jorie Weinberg | Brian Searcy | Marcus Matsumura | Deborah Hoff | Lexi Phares-Culver | Dooley Kim
Cara & Chris, parents of Zea, Portland, OR:
Give it a shot!
We love the multiple ways you explain things and how you have Zea use her own words to describe how the instrument feels and how the music sounds. You are responsive and helpful and do a great job encouraging our daughter to think about her technique and what does and doesn’t work. I also like how you are clear and to the point with Zea and don’t feed into her excuse-making. Saxophone lessons have helped Zea improve her technique and the lesson assignments create deadlines and have given Zea extra motivation to practice. If you have a son or daughter that is curious or motivated [about sax or clarinet] or even in a rut looking for new challenges, ideas, and practice methods, give [lessons with Mary Ellen] a shot! If you’re clear about your goals, Mary Ellen always responds and is flexible with her teaching techniques. Mary Ellen came highly recommended by Jacob Soto, MTMS band teacher. Thanks, Mary Ellen! Your manner is great! It’s clear that you care about your students.
Lexi Phares Culver
I like playing music more now!
I chose to take clarinet lessons with Mary Ellen because she came to my school as a guest teacher and was helpful and really nice.
Private clarinet lessons have made a difference in my life. I’m learning things I hadn’t heard from my band teacher. I may be busier now but I like playing music more!
One of the most valuable things Mary Ellen does in my clarinet lessons is to really make sure I understand a concept before moving on to the next thing. Mary Ellen is fun, helpful and patient!
Stress is reduced by learning to play clarinet
Mary Ellen is a knowledgeable clarinet teacher with a great sense of humor. I look forward to coming to my lessons and to practicing. I wasn’t playing the clarinet before I started learning with Mary Ellen. Being able to play the clarinet has reduced the stress in my life as an ER Nurse. Taking lessons has provided structure at a steady, consistent, and comfortable pace. I’ve made progressive and consistent improvement, particularly in my comprehension of reading music and counting rhythm. If I’m having difficulty understanding a concept, Mary Ellen uses a different approach that makes sense to me. She’s prepared, relaxed, artistic, and flexible. She is professional and knowledgeable but also relaxed and easy going. It’s obvious that she enjoys what she does. Music brings joy to my life and being able to play the clarinet in addition to listening to music has added so much joy.
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. Having her studio be so close to Mt. Tabor Middle School was a great convenience too. And the most valuable thing about having Mary Ellen as my teacher is that she is my friend as well as my teacher.
Caiden’s dad, Brian: “Mary Ellen is a great saxophone teacher. She is enthusiastic, patient, and listens to her pupils questions thoughtfully. It was her excellent website chock-full of raving testimonials that made us decide to sign up for lessons for our son, Caiden.” Caiden: “As a saxophone teacher, Mary Ellen makes the lessons fun. I’m always excited to go to my lessons. Her explanation of dotted half notes was a big ah-ha moment for me. Mary Ellen’s teaching style has made it easy for me to learn to play the saxophone quickly. How would I describe her? Fun. Easy-going. and Patient.”
Jackson’s mother, Jorie: “Jackson was really excited to learn how to play the clarinet and he felt that his school class was not moving fast enough. He was super excited to start lessons where his music skills increased quickly. The lessons have also given him the confidence to play solos. At Christmas, he played for over an hour for our family. It was really nice. Jackson is very comfortable with you and has enjoyed his lessons.” Jackson: “Whenever you teach me a new rhythm or a new note you do it in a way that makes me remember it and learn how to use it. Clarinet lessons with Mary Ellen are fun, helpful and tough. If you’re considering taking lessons with Mary Ellen, you should; she’s patient and kind. She has a lot of experience and she will help you play the music that you’re interested in learning how to play.”
“We had some friends over for breakfast one morning and our son Alan gave a lovely performance of Old King Wenceslas, Ode to Joy, and Old MacDonald. They were impressed that Alan has only been playing for a few months.” “One highlight that made me giggle on the inside was when our friend Bill pulled out his guitar to play along with Alan. Alan started them out…,”on your mark, get set, go!” And off they went! Thank you for getting Alan off to such a fantastic start [with his saxophone lessons]!” Jen Patterson
Clarinet lessons have helped me focus more on my embouchure.
I’ve had to put in hard work to improve my skills. The results have been very good!
In my late 30’s I decided to learn to play the saxophone. Meg Grace came highly recommended by a friend that plays with her in a Portland band. As my lessons started I soon realized that Meg was detailed oriented and VERY patient. I had NO music background at all. I needed an instructor that could break it down and take the time to explain to me the finer points of the beautiful language of music. She kept meticulous notes on my progress and was always eager to answer any questions. She made the simplest exercises fun, allowing me to forget how difficult learning an instrument can be. I have had other instructors since leaving Portland and compare them all to the high level of professionalism, musical knowledge and raw talent that I found with Meg. Her personality, style of teaching, and genuine love of music allowed me to really relax playing an instrument. Her recitals became a place to showcase how my abilities had improved and gave me the confidence to not only play for my own personal enjoyment but to join a large concert band and play for hundreds of people. She has allowed me to bring forth something that was deep inside me and nurtured it into an aspect of myself I’m very proud of. Knowing Meg Grace has helped change my life in ways I never expected. She has moved beyond just being my sax instructor and become a friend. — Brian Harris Brian Harris loves playing the sax so much now, he takes it wherever he goes. These two photos show him playing at Crater Lake in southern Oregon.
Ally has grown in confidence and blossomed in their sax playing. Since taking lessons with Mary Ellen, Ally has a better understanding of why they go through the [warm up] routines that they does. Their workouts at home are more focused and frequent. I’d recommend any sax student to work with you. You show particular aptitude for working with middle school musicians. We are very happy with the lessons Ally has had from Mary Ellen. Ally always comes home eager to tackle an issue that was discussed in the lesson. – Tom Shuell, Associate Professor of Mathematics, Concordia University
Meg Grace has been the perfect teacher for my son Davis. He has a mind of his own and needs to be frequently reminded and persuasively guided. Meg has encouraged him to seek out music that appeals to him and challenges him, and she has managed to seamlessly insert fundamentals and theory into the lessons in such a way that he accepts and even embraces them. Meg is always professional, and is very patient and encouraging. She has a proven track record with both youth and adult students at all levels from new-to-music to advanced. She provides support and encouragement not just during the lesson but outside it as well through her regular e-newsletters. She also introduces students and their families to live performances by professionals by inviting colleagues to perform as part of her twice-yearly student recitals and by inviting students and their families to join her in attending professional performances in the Portland area. I’m so very glad we found Meg Grace!
My daughter took clarinet lessons with Meg Grace and had a good experience. She wasn’t into music, but Meg made her feel comfortable with it. I decided to take saxophone lessons with Meg partly because my daughter had a good experience and partly because Meg was local and I wanted to support my local community. I’ve been taking lessons with Meg for 6 or 7 years now. As an adult student, I have a very busy lifestyle, and I needed someone who would be flexible in her approach with me. I wanted it to be fun, and I didn’t want to beat myself up if I didn’t have time to practice every week. Meg is attuned to what her students want. She doesn’t impose her expectations on her students. 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. Meg not only teaches her students how to play the instrument, but if they want to learn musical theory she will teach that too. I am able to come to a lesson and say, “Here’s what I’d like to work on today. I am going to perform this piece in a talent show.” Meg has worked with me on those things and she has loaned me books to help me accomplish my personal goals. She encourages me to explore other things easily without me even knowing I am exploring them. For example, she’ll just pull out some piece of music and suggest, “Why don’t we sight read this?” And then I discover that I am getting better at sight reading. Another thing I enjoy is that she involves me in choosing the music that I play. She does two recitals a year. When I first started taking lessons, I didn’t want to play in the recitals. They made me nervous. Meg was very gentle about it and encouraged me to do them. It’s been nice the way she gently motivates me. It turns out that they really are helpful. I never dreamed I would perform in [non-recital] concerts, yet I have performed in three over the last two years. That was not a goal I had when I started taking lessons. Playing in her recitals has helped me get comfortable enough to perform in other public venues. My original reason for taking saxophone lessons was just for the fun of it. Meg has compassionately led me down a path of learning, and now I can do some very challenging music. I’m amazed at the transformation in my playing!
Meg, you’re a gem! Our family has been exposed to many music teachers over the years, but none have brought such passion and creativity to each individual lesson. Your efforts to inspire my daughter to do more than simply play a song proficiently is a most commendable gift. [My daughter,] Joie has learned so much working with you – and had fun to boot! Thank you.
Meg is an awesome teacher! She is always positive and energetic and patient. When I struggle with a piece or exercise, she uses metaphors to help me understand. She also pushes me out of my comfort zone, though it is for the better. It expands my musical knowledge and skill set. Taking lessons with Meg has made me a more determined person. In band class, when I did not know how to play a part or was having difficulty with a section of the music, I would drop out and let the other members of my section cover the part. I was only one person, so I thought that it didn’t make that big of a deal. Though with lessons, I was forced, in a good way, to play through the difficult parts and master the piece. I never wanted to sound bad at lessons because then it was very evident who was playing the wrong rhythms or wrong notes. So I became more determined to be one of the best clarinet players around! Meg is always helpful and insightful. Whenever I need help or am struggling, she tells me of numerous ways to make the tone sound brilliant, or ways to understand and play the music correctly. I am very grateful to Meg.
Having been a student of Meg’s for about a third of my life, Meg’s instruction has been a huge part of my musical experience. It is hard for me to compare Meg’s methods to others as I have not had any other music teachers, however I can say that I have gained invaluable instruction, helped by her patience and vast knowledge of classical and jazz music. Jacob’s father, Neal adds: As the parent of a student, I appreciate that fact that Meg is very flexible in scheduling lessons. She also broadens her student’s musical experience through the variety of themes in the twice-annual recitals.
Meg Grace is, simply put, an inspired and inspiring teacher. She has taught my son alto sax for the past 5 years. He is now leaving home to attend University, and plans on continuing his music studies there, although it is not his major focus. Meg is a lot of fun, and brings different perspectives to play. I have appreciated this both as an audience member at the creative and enjoyable recitals she holds twice yearly, and through her newsletter, The Musician’s Motivator. She always has a slightly different twist on how to think about things, and I love it! I heartily recommend Meg as a teacher.
Meg Grace is one of the best music instructors I have ever had the joy of knowing. She is very educated in the field of music and is willing to pass her knowledge onto students. My experience has been a very good one. Learning the clarinet has become very fun as well as interesting. Information has been easily absorbed. Lessons have made the clarinet so much easier to play! Last year, I couldn’t go higher than a D [fourth line on the treble clef staff], but now I can go an octave above that. I feel much improvement. Recitals are always a fun thing to go to. They allow me to hear all sorts of musical styles and pieces from fellow students.
I have found Meg to be an incredibly knowledgeable, proficient, fun, and challenging teacher. Although I have not studied privately with anyone else, I would not hesitate to recommend her. Lessons with Meg have given me the opportunity not only to look forward to learning new things every week, but also the proficiency needed to participate in such activities as All-State band, where I have had unforgettable experiences. Sometimes I have had more time to practice than others and at those times my lesson is better prepared. Whatever my preparedness, Meg is always understanding, patient, and ready to impart her wisdom.
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. They have learned the structure of the music they play and how to arrange it for themselves. She pushes them ever so gently to think as well as learn. The recitals she creates are a treat as she always includes bits of historical and engaging information as she introduces her students and their recital piece. Furthermore, we enjoy hearing her play with the students and look forward to the musical guest she brings to entertain us too. (Daughter, Emily Schultz, pictured at left.)
Mary Ellen is very involved and interested as a teacher… and patient! She is willing to customize lessons based on my needs. She is encouraging and honest. I really appreciated that! I thoroughly enjoyed taking lessons from Mary Ellen. Lessons provide a forum to not only improve technique and your sound but also to discuss interpretation and musicality. I feel like my musicality and approach to making music has definitely improved. I appreciate that Mary Ellen played with me during most of the lessons. I got a lot out of the sessions that were recorded, played back and analyzed. If you’re looking for a teacher who is really interested in you as a musician, she’s the one.
Mary Ellen is thoughtful and encouraging in teaching me. Before I started lessons with Mary Ellen, tenor sax was hard. Now it’s not hard at all and I’m first tenor! Lessons with Mary Ellen helped me improve on both clarinet and tenor and they can help you too. Georgia is pictured at right, holding her Outstanding Soloist Award from Warner Pacific College’s Middle School Jazz Band Festival, February, 2013.