Testimonials

When it comes to choosing the right music school for your lessons, we know you want to see real results. Here are some testimonials from some of our adult students and parents at CMA.


Without a doubt, CMA is one of the most forward thinking music education programs available. I first discovered CMA’s founder, Michael Stegner performing at Egan’s, a local Jazz Club here in Seattle. The performance began with a teen trio (drummer, bass player and pianist); they were young, fresh and clearly having a lot of fun together. As the set progressed each performer gradually traded out for an adult instrumentalist; it turned out, the second group of performers were the faculty of the students who had opened the set. For several days following the performance, I couldn’t stop thinking about how much joy and the performance had generated not just in the players but also in myself. I subsequently contacted the owner of Egan’s to find out the name of the adult pianist. The owner wrote back “Oh yes, that’s Michael Stegner’s crew from CMA – Michael is an amazing human being”. With that endorsement, I contacted CMA and as luck would have it Michael had an opening and I was able to start lessons that very next week. That was in 2007; thirteen years later- I’m still taking lessons with the studio and feel that joining CMA was one of the best decisions I’ve made in my adult life.

I joined CMA 13 years ago and have studied under four of their piano teachers. Each faculty shares the same educational philosophy: Music is a creative, shared experience and the best way to motivate a learner is for the teacher / learner relationship to be both enthusiastic and fun. (I’m an educator and love the added benefit of learning from gifted teachers.)

 
I’ve seen Michael build a performance space, facilitate summer music camps for kids ages 4 and up, provide open-mics for each of us to overcome performance jitters and nurture young musical talent for the annual Essentially Ellington competition at Lincoln Center in New York City. I’ve also attended my teacher’s gigs here in Seattle – they are all outstanding musicians in their own right.

My favorite experience has been the group lessons; four students and the teacher take turns passing the melody and improvising with one another – that’s the best.

Now that we are in the midst of a pandemic, we’ve all transitioned to on-line lessons. CMA was well prepared, as Michael had been experimenting with on-line teaching for at least a decade prior to COVID-19. I never thought I’d be up for on-line learning, but Mason Lim, my current teacher makes each lesson something to look forward to. We ZOOM for 30 minutes. The warm up starts with mirroring exercises designed to reinforce ear training and experimentation with jazz motifs. Mason weaves in history and shares examples of famous musicians and songs highlighting the motif. While I'm performing the homework from the prior week, he updates our Google slide set with some practice riffs, ideas for enhancing musicality, audio samples and homework for the coming week.

Thankfully, the CMA teachers are well versed in on-line learning techniques. I’m confident they’ll find a way for our student group to reassemble and create music in real time – online. CMA stands for Creative Music Adventures: Come join the party, your kid and in my case your inner kid will be glad you found this community! - Patricia Stern

- Patricia S

My son began his musical journey with CMA 7 years ago and we hope it will continue for many more years. The staff are incredibly talented, smart, professional, innovative, and caring. So it's no surprise to me that the switch to online learning worked so well. My son has been able to play piano in the comfort of his own home while working online with Mason, whose great communication skills, unlimited patience, and thoughtful lesson planning has enabled my son to explore music more deeply and find joy in it. He now has access to helpful online tools and great digital music that I'm not sure he would have discovered otherwise, and we love that his grandmother in Hawaii was able to see him perform in the virtual recital!

- Heidi W

I gave CMA a shot as a “temporary solution” while we were in quarantine, as I wanted to find a way for him to continue his piano lessons - the online lessons offered by my son’s previous music school in Los Angeles weren’t effective. I am extremely happy with CMA and I plan to continue online lessons (even once in-person lessons become an option) based on the significant progress my son (7 years old) has made in the last few months. To highlight what I love about CMA:

  • The teaching method itself – the books, which come with practice tracks, are great at gradually introducing music concepts that build on each other, with the right amount of challenge to help my child grow. My son really enjoys playing the pieces and I see the sense of accomplishment he experiences as he masters each concept. I feel like playing with the practice tracks is developing his music listening skills and sense of rhythm. Personally, hearing him practice is a lot more enjoyable! I should add that the books look cool visually which helps engage my child – he’s really excited about starting on Jurassic Rock soon.
  • The use of technology – CMA uses Zoom very effectively (e.g. whiteboard to explain concepts) as well as Google Classroom to provide support materials (e.g. ear training exercises) and communicate between lessons. The teacher incorporates games to make the lessons very interactive and keep my son’s attention. We’ve just started turning in a video of him playing the pieces he’s been working on ahead of the lesson, so the teacher knows his progress and can prepare accordingly. Over the last few months, CMA has continued to look for ways to effectively use technology, for example, recently enabling parents to synchronize personal calendars with the school’s lesson schedule. (Everything helps during these chaotic times!)
  • Open mics and recitals – CMA has hosted these once a month and they’ve been helpful in developing my son’s presentation skills and building his confidence.
- Anisha G

We are parents from non-music backgrounds who were intimidated trying to find musical opportunities for our 5-year old. We are grateful to have found CMA and our daughter has thrived with their program. CMA teachers make the experience fun for kids and our now 6-year old has actually improved greatly in the online environment. It's actually been very cool as a parent to be able to listen in to her lessons and be able to practice with our daughter in ways that are much more helpful to her musical development. We feel lucky that music has been a consistent opportunity during this stay at home time and are amazed at the ability for our daughter and CMA to adapt together to this new environment and continue to make learning fun.

- Bryan H

We've been taking lessons for over 5 years at CMA and transitioned to online lessons in March 2020. We have always appreciated the quality of teaching staff hired by CMA and felt well supported throughout the transition. After we set up calendar and email reminders, learned how to log in a few clicks, and were ready with a tuned violin in hand, we really started to see the benefits. One of the challenges was figuring out how to tune a violin ourselves and I was so impressed to see my child take it on and learn how to do it with support from her teacher online. I continue to be impressed by the patience, dedication, and kindness of the staff. We work from books, on screen music created by the teachers, as well as presentations, and online games providing multiple channels to keep the lessons engaging. We also participated in an online recital where students share their current project and were so glad to see our child's self confidence grow as a direct result of taking part. Overall, I love how the relationship between student and teacher continues to flourish online, that we are continuing our music journey, and making steady progress.

- Pauline G

Who would have thought that drum lesions during a pandemic would be so easy for my five-year-old. We have only had a great experience with CMA and their online, live private class that we attend weekly. I love that I can actually give my child the privacy to do the lesson without me in the space and I can still pop in through zoom on my phone to make sure he's staying focused which we talk about AFTER the lesson together if need be. Overall, it's been a really good experience and we will continue our lessons with CMA virtually.

- Linda K

CMA has been a great place for my student to grow as a musician. They have given great instruction in person and online over the past few years and we’ve seen tremendous growth from their coaching. Additionally, they’ve been flexible and accommodating as our schedule inevitably changes.

- Andrew S

I had been taking live lessons in the CMA for over an year, when the COVID-19 happened and we moved to the virtual lessons. I think the experience so far has been very smooth and once I setup my home the piano and video, I personally felt the arrangement is even better than earlier. Virtual teaching has also improved the instruction process. Some examples: I generally ask the instructor to record the video for some difficult passages, which has been really helpful to refer back later when practicing. The instructors also have multiple cameras which I are being used effectively for instructions and I haven't felt any deficiency so far. I was also encouraged to start using digital apps which I think has added an extra dimension to my learning. Finally, it's good to get lessons while sitting at home as I had to drive back from work and find parking late in the evening. I think when the situation ends, it might be good to have a few physical lessons from time to time (perhaps more so for very young students) but I would overall prefer to have most of the lessons virtually.

- Budha

My teenage son has been drumming with his teacher Ruby via Zoom since the spring. Once they got the settings worked out (just took one lesson), he's really enjoyed continuing their lessons together. She continues to introduce new curriculum and to offer feedback in ways that allow him to grow as a percussionist.

- Julia B

My two kids - 13-year-old clarinet player and 9-year-old piano - have enjoyed the online lessons. It cuts down on the stress of having to get to and from the physical lesson! In pajamas, no problem. Get a quick practice in before the lesson. After the lesson, they have a chance to practice what they just learned. For the piano player, she likes playing on her own instrument. For the clarinet player, the acoustics can be challenging but with pre-recorded material, he can play along and it makes it sound so much more musical than playing by himself. The teachers are just as caring, patient, full of encouraging words and fun!

- Aya S

Nindy is the best!!! She helps me record the lesson and gives a lesson summary. Totally great and highly recommended.

- John D

Whether instruction occurs in person or via Zoom, the thing that matters most is the quality of the teaching. My experience over several years at CMA has been excellent, and this has continued since we went to remote instruction. Mason has been patient, organized and thorough. The pace of the lessons corresponds well with my ability to absorb information. If I have questions outside of the lesson, he is quick to get back to me with exactly the information that I need. The use of Google Docs to record the details of the lesson plan provides a great summary of what we agreed upon for homework, and I don't need to take notes during the lesson, which means we can spend the entire time with me playing or with him demonstrating -- and this is important for a 30-minute lesson. I am happy with the progress I am continuing to make and feel more confident with the expanded freedom Mason has given me to address the challenges of improvisation.

- Bob R

Our son was hesitant to begin virtual piano lessons at the start of COVID closures, but decided to test it out. His reluctance faded after the first lesson; he was happy to sign on for future lessons and even created his own specialized setup to engage with Brendan. I appreciate the thoughtfulness and flexibility Michael has already injected into this unplanned virtual experience and am sure there will be great advances with this new focus on the ALL virtual experience.

- Jeff L