I love teaching and mentoring musicians. I’ve taught students ages 3-70 and am fascinated with exploration, discovery, and the skill development process. In my studio, I aim to create an environment where curiosity is welcomed, eagerness is applauded and hard work is rewarded.
Experiential learning is key. Consistently I encourage students to perform and receive feedback in masterclasses, studio class, festivals, and competitive events. In my studio, discovering new repertoire and promoting musical diversity is a priority. I teach works ranging from Musczynski, Chopin, and Rachmaninoff, to Fred O, Amy Beach, and Oscar Peterson. Lessons emphasize active listening, interpretive decision making, stylistic choices, and nuances of sound colors.
I take a holistic view of keyboard wellness into every lesson. Years ago I reengineered my own playing to create a way of playing that feels physically natural and maximize technical efficiency. This journey transformed my teaching. My goal is that every student maximizes every minute of their time and learn to use their bodies efficiently, to enjoy a lifetime of rewarding music making.
As an artist teacher, I bring years of concert experience (i.e. guest appearances on PBS, Dallas Symphony Orchestra and Oregon East Symphony) into every lesson. This allows me a unique viewpoint into building a student's confidence in performance, phrasing detail and a broader sense of color possibilities on stage. This demonstrative focus leads students to developing their own unique musical voice.
Beyond the instrumental skills I teach, my goal is to help students develop discipline, problem solving skills, wonder, and compassion through their musical study. As a teacher, I am here to help my students fulfill their potentials as musicians, but even more importantly, I am here to also help them become exemplary human beings and citizens. It’s a privilege to create a safe learning environment where musicians can learn and flourish.
Students say . . .
Dr. McCain is a truly inspiring musical mentor. I came to her with a weak sense of rhythm and I wasn’t really tuned in to hearing myself critically. She diagnosed my rhythm issues immediately and really helped me hone in on a practical way to solve it. Now I’m experiencing rhythm and pulse in my body and it’s made a huge difference.
— Rose Murray, undergrad
She pushes me to do my best and excel … even when I haven't believed in myself she always believes in me.
— Marcus Browning, undergrad
My entire musical outlook changed when I began my lessons with Dr. McCain. She opened up a new world for me of sound colors, nuances, and dimensions of tone. Our work together has transformed my playing.
How can I encourage my young student to practice without burning them out?
Young children often do better when their practice sessions are broken up in to small sessions of 5-15 minutes. Let's face it a 6-8 year olds attention spans are not very long and we don't want to mistake lack of interest with lack of patience. If you do this consistently the child will grow steadily and as they see progress practicing will become more enjoyable for them!
My child seems to be very gifted how do I know if I have the right teacher?
Picking the right teacher is a combination of personality, experience and knowledge. Often you can have a fantastic teacher who perhaps you personally just don't gel with or vice versa. As your child progresses you want to be sure that the teacher is still more "musically" advance than your child. Teachers who are wonderful at teaching beginners may or may not have the skill set to teach more advance students. The teacher should be able to guide your child technically and musically with appropriate repertoire choices. For the very serious student the teacher should be able to give suggestions for their career and college choices.
How can I locate qualified piano teachers?
No matter what city you live in there are often Music Teacher Associations, which often are primarily comprised of pianists. So if you live in Omaha, Nebraska you can joogle Omaha Music Teachers Association for a listing of teachers. Other good places to look for teachers are through University professors or college students depending on the level of your child. Of course there are qualified teachers who may not be affiliated with an association or university but these are great places to start.
What type of piano should I buy?
There are so many good choices of pianos that it can be hard to choose. Many parents do not want to spend a lot of money on an instrument when their child is young for fear the child will quit after a few lessons. Many local music stores have piano rental programs that range from $45-$100/month. These are good options if you are not sure of your child's intent and don't want an unwanted instrument in the living room.
As your child talent matures, buying a good acoustic piano is the best choice. Keyboards are also fun, but I would purchase them secondary to an acoustic piano. The technology is always changing and there will always be a better electronic keyboard yet a fine acoustic piano will last for years. If you see an instrument you are interested in purchasing and are not sure of the quality contact your local piano technician to come out and give it a look.
I am an adult interested in lessons. Am I too old to learn?
You are never to old to learn or freshen up your musical skills! Adults who have taken as a child come back to their music lessons with renewed interest and motivation. Set up a lesson schedule that will accommodate your busy life and enjoy!