About Me


A native of the North Shore of Massachusetts, Julie Cleveland has been playing and composing at the piano for over 40 years. She earned her B.A. cum laude in Music from Bard College, where she apprenticed with internationally renowned composer and pianist Joan Tower. While at Bard, she also studied performance practice under the late cellist Luis Garcia-Renart, who studied with Pablo Casals and whose playing inspired Julie’s compositions for chamber ensembles featuring cello. Ms. Cleveland holds an M.Mus. degree from New England Conservatory of Music in Boston, where she studied composition with composer Malcolm Peyton. Her theory studies were with Robert Cogan and the late James Hoffman and studied interpretive analysis with John Heiss, with whom she also studied the music of Stravinsky, Schoenberg, and Bartok. Ms. Cleveland’s compositions have been primarily for chamber ensembles and solo piano. She was commissioned by Christopher Washburne through the American Music Week Foundation to compose a work for him for trombone, which premiered at the Longy School of Music. She was again commissioned by the American Music Week Foundation in Tulsa, OK, where an evening of her works was presented.

Julie Cleveland. Photo by Brendan Pike.
Photo by Brendan Pike.

Julie Cleveland began teaching while an undergrad music major at Bard College, when a friend asked her to show her some songs on the piano. After college, she landed a job in publishing at Houghton Mifflin Company in Boston, but soon realized that music was her path and passion in life. She began her graduate studies in composition at New England Conservatory, and, while on a break from studies, was hired for her first piano instructor position at the Saratoga Guitar Workshop, in 1988. After earning her master’s degree in music from NEC, she moved back home to Cape Ann and founded her teaching studio—the Cape Ann Piano Studio—in Gloucester.

Ms. Cleveland sustained serious injuries in the 1990s from over two decades of playing piano with poor technique (teachers who didn’t teach proper technique)—unfortunately a common occurrence for many musicians, injuries such as chronic tendinitis, and carpal/radial/ulnar nerve syndromes. While being treated successfully by renowned neurologist Dr. Michael Charness (Director of the Performing Arts Clinic at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston), Julie could not play piano with her right arm for nearly 6 months (while recovering she learned and performed, as well as composed, pieces for left hand alone). After a full recovery, Ms. Cleveland decided to retrain, at the age of 37, so that she could continue to play without injury, and teach her students to do the same. She sought out and had the great fortune of finding and studying with virtuoso pianist Barbara Lister-Sink, professor and artist-in-residence at Salem College in North Carolina, who founded and chairs the Injury-Preventive Keyboard Technique department. She is also the author of the well-known DVD among pianists, Freeing the Caged Bird. Julie now stresses the importance of a foundation in injury-preventive technique in her own studio, for all of her students, young and old alike. She also studied the Alexander Technique with Corinna Trabucco, who teaches group classes at MAGMA in Gloucester.

In addition to teaching, Julie Cleveland has also worked as a substitute church pianist at the First Universalist Church of Essex, the Gloucester Unitarian Universalist Church, and the Unitarian Universalist Society in Rockport, MA.

Ms. Cleveland is an active member of the North Shore Piano Teachers Guild.

Play Me I’m Yours | Street Pianos Boston Fall 2013 This piano was at Government Center.

Education and Music Training

New England Conservatory of Music, Boston, MA, 1990
Master of Music, Composition
Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson, NY, 1983
Bachelor of Arts, cum laude, Music
Longy School of Music, Cambridge, MA
Undergraduate studies in music

Emerson College, Boston, MA
Undergraduate studies in acting

Stone Stairway Stories, with Carl Thomsen, Dance
Trident Gallery Live Art Series, Gloucester, MA 2015
A December Celebration, with Inge Berge, Singer/Songwriter
Independent Christian Church, Gloucester, MA 2013
Performances of Compositions
Mobiles, for voice, horn, piano & percussion—Tuesday Night New Music
Jordan Hall, Boston MA
“American Music Week” concerts:
Grimalkin, for trombone & double bass—Chris Washburne Plays Boston
Longy Recital Hall, Cambridge MA
The Air Is Different Here, for chamber ensemble—An Evening of New Music
Tulsa Performing Arts Center, Tulsa OK
The Path at Dawn, for flute, ‘cello & piano—The Da Capo Chamber Players In Concert
Avery Center for the Arts, Annandale NY

Other Professional Music Experience

Music Director/Producer, Rockport Acoustic Music Festival, Rockport MA, 1996–1999
Substitute Pianist, Gloucester, Rockport, and Essex Unitarian-Universalist congregations, 1996–Present