Cape Ann Piano Studio Reopening

Julie Cleveland has returned to in-person teaching for fully vaccinated adults and kids 12 and up who are fully vaccinated and whose other family members are (except of course children under 12).

Parents of children age 7/2nd grade (in the fall) through age 11, please contact me to discuss your comfort level with in-person teaching this summer until the Fall Quarter begins in Sept. Visit my website for more info.
I also continue to teach via Zoom as an option as I have for all of my current students since March of 2020. However, I’d rather students came in person. 🙂

Julie Cleveland, piano instructor on Cape Ann, takes lessons online for both kids and adults


All of my teaching has moved to online lessons for children and adults via Zoom. Although online lessons are not traditional lessons(!), during these trying and challenging times, young people out of school on creative activities outside of online school, too. As I teach teens, I know that some are having a real difficult time during this. I believe music will not only help them with their stress, anxiety, depression; it may help your whole family to cope. And you can take a time out for the duration of the lesson, I got it. 🙂
If you haven’t already seen the video (see below) of the Italian people singing together from their balconies when this all started, it is truly inspiring and moving and shows how the power and joy of music keeps us all connected and “alone together.”

If you’d like to see a Zoom lesson in progress, please visit my Kids’ Lessons page here.

And contact me here to learn more about my online lessons for your child or for your tween/teen. They also include video check-ins half way through the week and soon, possible get-togethers to share the music they are learning and playing during “group” lessons online.
Stay safe, and consider adding the joy of learning piano. Of course it’s not the same, I long for when that time will come.
Miss Julie

As with my young students, all lessons are online for adult students as well. Please contact me here for more info. And visit my page on lessons for adult students here.


Give the Gift of Piano Lessons to Your Child This Holiday Season

From now until December 20, the Cape Ann Piano Studio is offering a 20% discount off of the remaining Winter Quarter at the studio for school-age children (10 45-minute lessons). This offer applies to both beginner and transfer students. Lessons begin January 7.*

Please email or call for more information.

A young student plays a duet with his mom at our first-ever annual Holiday Pizza and Piano Party. 🙂


*This discounted offer is for young students only.
Adults seeking lessons, you can learn more by visiting my Adult Lessons page, and please contact me if you would like more information.

Cape Ann Piano Studio Annual Spring Recital!

Tomorrow is the Annual Spring Recital of all of my piano students, and all are welcome! Come and listen to students play pieces from Michael Jackson to Igor Stravinsky! Then hang out for juice or coffee and treats downstairs.

Cape Ann Piano Studio Annual Spring Recital
Saturday, June 17, 4 p.m.
First Universalist Church of Essex.
Free and open to the public, handicapped accessible.
For more info, call (978) 491-1658

And this year the students practiced 9,227 minutes and raised nearly $400 for the elephant orphans, so we will be fostering 8 babies, rescued and cared for by The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust. Learn more about the vital and dedicated work that they do at their Facebook page, where you will find wonderful videos about all that the Trust does: today’s video is all about the orphan babies and what their days are like!


Last year’s Spring Recital

Little Dupotto, she’s one of our elephant fosters.

Annual Practice for the Elephants – You can still be a matching donor!

Cape Ann Piano Studio’s Annual Practice for the Elephants has just ended—my students practice for the month of May each year for this worthy cause. They practice to raise money to foster baby elephants, who have been orphaned due to the illegal poaching of elephants for their ivory tusks.
Keep reading to find out how you can match the students’ earnings!

Last year’s Annual Spring Recital

About Practicing for the Elephants

Students earn two cents for every minute practiced over the course of 4 weeks. At the end, we total up the minutes to figure out how much each student has raised. Students’ sponsors can be parents, grandparents, teachers and friend, aunts, uncles, anyone!

If any of you would like to be a matching donor for a student (average money raised per student is about $10-12) please contact me. Your match makes each student feel even more proud of their accomplishment. 🙂
It’s $50 a year to foster an orphaned elephant at the DSWT. Your contribution matching a student’s total earnings for practicing for a month goes to an important cause: saving the African elephant from extinction.

If you’d like to be a matching donor for a great cause, please contact me and I will pair you up with a student! 

Water Color by Angela Sheldrick

Why Pianos and Elephants?

As pianists we are very aware of the history of using ivory for piano keys and that the manufacture of pianos once contributed to the trade in ivory. But today, piano technicians use polymers and mixtures of plastics to create the look and feel of ivory for our piano keys, bypassing entirely the illegal trade in ivory elephant tusks

Where Our Donations Go

The donations collected go to sponsor abandoned baby elephant cubs whose mother or father was killed from illegal poaching of ivory in Africa. The orphaned baby elephants are raised and kept safe for later release by the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust Foundation in Nairobi, Kenya where it operates the Tsavo East National Park.
Please also visit the The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust website.
The DSWT on Facebook:
Here’s another website,, where you can take action toward ending the ivory trade.

Elephants We Have Fostered

Barsilinga (boy)
Barsilinga (boy)

Rorogoi (girl)
Rorogoi (girl)


Chemi Chemi (boy)
Chemi Chemi (boy)


This wonderful and amazing contest was created by fellow piano instructor, Penny Lazarus.

Julie Cleveland’s Students Perform at Shalin Liu Piano Recitals

This past Sunday, 5 of my students performed as part of the North Shore Piano Teachers’ Guild Piano Recitals at the Shalin Liu Performance Center in Rockport.
Congratulations to all of you, I’m so proud of all of your hard work exemplified in the outstanding performances you gave!! —Miss Julie 🙂

Here are two of my students’ performances, I’ll be posting the rest shortly, enjoy!





How to Practice Anything (especially the piano)

This blog post by a fellow piano teacher is wonderful, I can say that her advice here is invaluable. (Beta-tested it this summer.) 😉

This is wonderful reading for not only parents, but for older students, too. And piano teachers!

Here is the link. You can also download it here as a PDF to print it out to read it again and again.

How to Practice Anything
by Regina Ngo

Regina Ngo
Regina’s Music Studio, S. Pasadena, CA

Free Jazz Concerts and Classes This Week at Shalin Liu

Check it out! Rockport Jazz Camp for kids ages 11 to 18 (two of my students are there!) is taking place all this week at the Rockport schools, a collaboration with Rockport Music Shalin Liu Performance Center.

There are several free performances this week:

Wednesday, 7 pm: Alexa Tarantino Jazz Quintet

Thursday and Friday at 2 pm: Jazz Improvisation Master Classes (I’ll be at one or both of those for sure)

Saturday, 10 am: FIVE PLAY jazz quintet performs a free, family concert.Jazz-Camp-160-alt

Click HERE for info on all the events



And, upcoming on the 27th, and I’m sorry I’ll miss this one, but students will be performing with members of the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra!

Saturday, August 27, 3 PM

MASTERCLASS: Members of the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra

Location: Shalin Liu Performance Center
Members of the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra will work with Rockport Jazz Camp students on such topics as improvisation, large ensemble performance, and instrument-specific techniques. Later that evening, student musicians from the Jazz Camp will participate in the Rockport Music Gala later that evening by providing musical entertainment as patrons stroll to Millbrook Meadow from the Shalin Liu Performance Center. Free, no tickets required.
Runtime: 1 hour

And…this concert costs money but this band is the quintessential Cajun band, Buckwheat Zydeco, I’ve seen them play and they are awesome:

This Friday, 8 pm:

Watch them on YouTube here:





Acoustic versus Digital Pianos

Just updated this article I wrote for my website a million years ago (well, maybe not THAT long ago) and thought I’d publish for anyone who cares to read, but especially for people considering taking piano lessons and wondering if a digital is “ok for now.” 🙂


Acoustic versus Digital Piano FAQs (or the Plight of the Poor Piano)

by Julie Cleveland

Do we need an acoustic piano for lessons?

Technically, no. You can use a digital piano. A digital piano has 88 weighted keys and pedals. Many teachers don’t care if you have a digital or a piano. I am not one of those teachers. I teach piano, not digital keyboard. So you need a “real” or acoustic piano. Why? Because when you sign up to learn to play the piano, or sign up your child, you’re not studying digital keyboard, or taking digital keyboard lessons, you are signing up for piano lessons. If you are going to invest hundreds—thousands—of dollars over the long haul for your child to become a pianist (if he or she practices!), then make the investment sound and invest in the piano from the get go (as there is “relearning” for students who have been on digitals, or less, for years).

Is an acoustic piano better?

Yes. There is no comparison. Nothing replaces the feel and sound and, of course, the emotional experience of playing a real piano. The wood and strings and metal of the piano create vibrations that go up into your body as you play. You cannot get this experience on an electronic instrument. (A violinist doesn’t learn to play on an electronic violin.) When learning on a digital piano, the emotional reaction with the instrument is not the same. Sometimes it’s lacking. Oftentimes students on digitals too long lose interest. That’s because they are not having an emotional, musical experience with their instrument. Professionals use digital pianos because they have to, for recording, for gigs, etc. I don’t know too many pianists who go into a room and choose the digital over the piano to play on.

A wonderful video to watch is Seymour Bernstein’s You and the Piano, in which he, a concert pianist, describes the piano beautifully.

We live an apartment/condo/house and don’t have room for a real piano.

The truth is that the difference in size (cubic space) between an acoustic upright piano and a digital keyboard is only in inches. The measurements below include depth and width. (Height is moot, unless you have wainscoting or shelving all the way around your house that comes way, way out from the wall, or live in an apartment or condo with 6-foot ceilings.)

An upright acoustic piano measures about 60 inches long.

A digital piano measures about 54 inches long.

An upright acoustic piano measures about 46 inches deep, which includes the space of the bench from the piano when seated to play.

A digital piano measures about 43 inches deep, which includes the space of the bench from the piano when seated to play.

We can’t afford a real piano.

If your child takes to lessons and is excited and learning you have to be able to afford it. Why? Because if you’re laying out hundreds—thousands—of dollars for the piano education of your child over years, then you must also invest in a piano. It would be foolhardy not to.

Sometimes, actually, real pianos are less than higher-end digital pianos (which are the only ones you would want to purchase anyway). Craigslist always has acoustic pianos for sale, no matter where you live on Planet Earth (as does eBay). Some are great, some are ok, some are horrible. It’s exactly like buying a used car. Bring a piano technician with you to assess the piano. I’ve italicized this sentence because it is so important and so often folks skip this step; just like buying a used car, you need a pro to look under the lid and tell you whether it’s worth the money. (I can recommend two excellent techs that I work with).

Buy Larry Fine’s The Piano Book, or visit his website, to help you learn about new and used pianos. Visit piano stores and play different brands (I can recommend shops). Often stores will let you rent a piano by the month, for a low cost (Williams Piano Shop in Brookline). And recruit me to help you. Why? I will always help someone in need of a real piano. Plus I love to shop! Hunter-gatherer instinct.

Pros and cons – acoustic versus digital pianos:

Acoustic Piano        Digital Piano

Needs to be tuned.       Never needs tuning.
Is a real piano.              Is not a real piano.

Why are you so against digital pianos?

It’s not that I am against them, it’s that I am for acoustic pianos. Having played a real piano since the late 1960s, and many various keyboards and digital pianos since the 1980s, I am in a position to have an opinion about it. I speak from experience. I don’t own any stock in a piano company, get kickbacks from piano dealers or shops, and I am not anti-technology. I have been accused of being old-fashioned on the subject. But if I, a pianist for over 45 years, and a piano teacher for nearly 30, don’t stick up for real pianos, who will?

All electronic keyboards are just toys.—Keith Jarrett

Tokyo ’84 concert: Over the Rainbow. (He moves around a lot, but, well, he’s Keith Jarrett.)
Click this link, close your eyes, breathe, and listen. You won’t regret it.

The piano.

Click here for a PDF version of this article.


Cape Ann Piano Studio Annual Spring Recital Tomorrow!

My young piano students will be performing in their annual spring recital on Saturday, June 11, from 4–5 pm at the First Universalist Church of Essex.

It’s free and open to the public, all are welcome to attend! The church is also handicapped accessible. We have a reception afterward downstairs, all are welcome there, too.
Students will be playing almost all contemporary composers’ pieces and songs, as well as arrangements of Mozart and C.P.E. Bach.

Come take and break, and put a smile on your face watching kids share their joy playing piano for all of us! 🙂

Performance from last year:

Cape Ann Piano Studio Annual Spring Recital
June 11, 2016, 4–5 pm
First Universalist Church of Essex
57 Main Street
Essex, MA 01929

Performance from last year’s recital:

For more info, click here, or call 978-491-1658.