Teaching and Presenting Highlights Michael Stegner

Teaching Bio

Michael Stegner grew up in a home with two music educators as parents. After years of classical piano lessons, he attended the University of Miami in Florida where he received a B.M. in Studio Music and Jazz (piano). After travelling and performing original music around the US for a few years, Stegner moved to Seattle. He began combining his classical training, jazz training and experiences of performing nightly on the road into a comprehensive teaching philosophy. His teaching studio filled up quickly and he became in-demand as a presenter at teacher conferences both locally and nationally.

teacher2In 2016, he launched a blog focused on teaching, pedagogy and performance. The blog garnered nearly 3,000 users in its first year. That same year, he released the first four levels of his teaching method that has been tested at his school since 2007.

Teaching Highlights

  • In 2003, founded the Creative Music Adventures music school in Seattle where students of all ages were asked to be able to perform traditional piano music as well as modern, jazz and improvised music.
  • In 2016, released the first four levels of his teaching method that was written and tested at Creative Music Adventures (and elsewhere) since 2007.
  • Since 2009, students have accepted over $1,000,000 in music scholarships to universities and conservatories.
  • Students have received eight Student Downbeat Awards in the middle school and high school categories of performance (piano and jazz voice), jazz composition, music engineering and original composition.
  • Former students have headlined mid-sized jazz festivals in the US and Canada with their own groups. They have performed in large jazz festivals in the US, Canada and Europe as leaders of their own groups.
  • Several students have performed at Lincoln Center in New York and been awarded Outstanding Soloists during the Essentially Ellington festival hosted by Wynton Marsalis.
  • Former students have toured as sidemen and women for arena tours and smaller venues for acts in many genres including rock, pop, hip-hop and jazz
  • Former students have been featured soloists or producers on singles by Macklemore and Travis Scott.
  • For over 10 years, taught between 30-40 private students a week at Creative Music Adventures.

Presented at the Following National Conferences

  • 2007 – MTNA National and CFMTA Conference – Toronto, ON
  • 2008 – MTNA National Conference – Denver, CO
  • 2009 – MTNA National Conference – Atlanta, GA
  • 2013 – MTNA National Conference – Anaheim, CA

Presented at the Following Local and State Meetings and Conferences

  • 2002 – WSMTA State Conference in Tacoma, WA
  • 2002 – Edmonds Chapter Meeting in Edmonds, WA
  • 2003 – Snohomish Chapter Meeting in Snohomish, WA
  • 2003 – Eastside Chapter Meeting in Bellevue, WA
  • 2004 – WSMTA State Conference in Spokane, WA
  • 2004 – District I, II, II Conference in Marysville, WA
  • 2004 – Seattle Chapter Meeting in Seattle, WA
  • 2005 – TMTA (Texas Music Teacher Association) State Conference in Texas
  • 2008 – District V Conference in Wenatchee, WA
  • 2008 – Edmonds Chapter Meeting in Edmonds, WA
  • 2013 – Seattle Chapter Meeting in Seattle, WA
  • 2015 – Seattle Chapter Meeting in Seattle, WA
  • 2015 – Seattle Pacific University Lecture in Seattle, WA
  • 2017 – WSMTA State Conference in Shoreline, WA
  • 2017 – Vermont Music Teachers Association in Burlington, VT
  • 2018 – MTAC State Convention in Orange Grove, CA

band_sFrom 2003-2007 Michael worked as an education clinician for Roland US. During that time he traveled the US and worked with teachers on ways to integrate technology and teaching.

Student Performances…

Beginning group lessons traditional style (from Michael’s teaching method)…

Beginning group lessons pop styling…

Beginning group jazz style (learned from Sonny Rollins recording)

Intermediate group pop style (learned from recording)

Advanced high school combo (student composition and improvisations)

High school jazz piano student

High school band coaching (this was a grant program in Seattle where kids learned songs from recordings, arranged them and performed them)

Workshop Topics for Conventions and Teacher Meetings

Improvisation Basics – Improvisation doesn’t have to be a separate, daunting activity in lessons. It can be taught as part of standard piano repertoire with no extra layers added. This workshop takes the mystery out of having kids learning how to improvise melody, harmony and rhythm.

Creative Fearless and Fantastic Performers – Performance opportunities inspire students to become the most amazing versions of themselves. This session breaks down creative ways to prepare students for performances so that it becomes a joyful experience that often results in students sounding better in front of an audience than they do on their own or in lessons.

Building Excitement in Your Studio (So Students Skip All Other Obligations to Come to Your Lessons) – Have you ever felt like your lessons with students take a back seat to all of their other activities? This workshop will talk about concrete ways to flip the script so that students put their time with you above all other options they have in their busy lives.

Workshop Formats

These can be one-off sessions at shorter meetings or combined as multiple sessions throughout a day or weekend.

60-minute session: A 50-minute presentation followed by a 10-minute Q&A.

75-minute session: A 60-minute presentation followed by a 15-minute Q&A.

Masterclasses: These are typically after one of the presentations above. Often there will be a presentation, a break of some sort and then a masterclass with students at various levels. Masterclasses can be standard format or based around helping students improvise and play more creatively with pieces they’ve prepared.

Performance: A 60- to 90-minute performance of original piano music and songs. In the past, groups have used these events to raise money. Through tickets sales to students, families and people in the community – these can be nice community-building events that raise funds for your group/association.

Book and Method Presentation: Michael’s teaching method and books are a little different than the other options out there. Therefore there is a quick overview that takes between 5-15 minutes. The books and method aren’t mentioned during any of the presentations. This is a separate demonstration that allows travel and lodging expenses to be offset by book sales.


“I am a conservatory trained classical pianist that is actively performing and teaching.  I was searching for ways to expand my knowledge and expertise by exposing myself to a different musical language (jazz).  For the past year I have been working with Michael Stegner weekly via lessons on Google Hangouts, as I live in Washington State.  Michael is a phenomenal musician and so fluent in many different styles.  This study has opened up a new musical world that both challenges me and enhances my current knowledge.  He explains things in several different ways, and introduces concepts in a thoughtful fashion.  I feel like I have added another important layer to my playing, and I look forward to our weekly lessons.  Most of all, I trust that he considers my musical development a priority and keeps me feeling upbeat about the progress because it is so much different than classical study!  The online format has worked very well as we can connect from the comfort of our own studios.  Online billing is extremely easy too.  Please feel free to contact me personally if you would like any more perspective from a classical background!”

“Having taken lessons from many music teachers over the course of ~10 years (for both piano and saxophone), I can confidently say that Michael stands out from the rest and is an extraordinary person to study with. I was able to progress both on the technical side of my playing, further my understanding of theory, and apply the theory to improve my solo-ing over the course of lessons with him. Certain aspects of jazz can be intimidating to take on, but Michael was able to build up my skill level in incremental steps that felt achievable. This made each lesson feel like a small ‘win’, as progress was clearly showing and confidence-boosting (which is important as a student)! Also, he is just an extremely kind person, so the lesson environment is very welcoming and supportive. It keeps things fun while still being productive.”

Max Levin – Keyboardist, Producer, Music Director & Artist Management

“I am a classically-trained pianist who runs my own teaching studio in Western New York and also performs as a collaborative artist and accompanist. I had a desire to bring creativity into my musical life many years ago and it wasn’t until I found Michael’s blog and artistic voice that I found someone who I felt would be an excellent fit as a mentor-teacher in learning how to create and improvise music at the piano. I have been taking weekly online lessons with him via Google Chat since April 2017. My lessons with Michael are challenging and inspiring. We always move at a good pace and I feel that the improvisatory nature of the lessons is a good indication of the practice – flexible, reacting to the moment and yet provides great structure. Michael as a teacher is aware of all of this and can come from different angles if he sees that one approach is not connecting, a sign of a good teacher. He shares musical experiences that provide context and encourage one in this process. One of the most important qualities I have found in him as a teacher is that he creates a space for me to discover things on my own musical journey. He provides guidance but with the awareness that he wants me to discover things in my own time and pace.

As a result of Michael’s direction, guidance and teaching I am creating music at the piano that I could only imagine when I started learning these new skills. The technical and musical skills I have gained from his expertise continues to provide inspiration for what I know will be a ever-growing love for music and that to me is priceless.”

Sarah Maybee – Pianist & Teacher

“I took online sessions with Michael. When I first contacted him, I was pretty lost and confused about where to go musically, and I needed direction. I’m very happy that I found him at that time. He was extremely patient and understanding, and offered his expert guidance. We covered several topics such as music production, teaching studio management, creative exercises, composition and many other things that a life in music encompasses. Michael has done it all in his career and possesses a wealth of information. I never felt aimless during our sessions. He would target what he found to be my interests and went from there. I especially liked that Michael was comfortable jumping from things like nit-picky music theory to broad, philosophical life questions. He was a musical-life coach to me, but he also possesses the skills to be a focused teacher for singular subjects as well. I highly recommend working with Michael, especially if you were like me! It was a tremendous help and I cannot thank him enough. Thanks, Michael!”

Shawn Schlogel – Pianist, Teacher & Touring Musician

“As a piano teacher, I strive to structure my lessons with fun in mind. After attending countless conferences, meetings, and seminars, I was constantly being reminded of the rigid methods that teachers have stuck to, methods that often focused on drilling with intense repetitions. I was in search of a more innovative approach that wasn’t afraid to break the molds of traditional teaching methods.
I started online sessions with Michael in April 2018 and reaching out to him has proven to be one of the most rewarding decisions I have made in my career. Through our online lessons, Michael has helped me in so many ways including structuring lesson plans, behavior management, and exploring creative ways to teach. He always has answers to my endless stream of questions and explains his reasoning thoroughly. Michael has an attention to detail that speaks volumes about his passion for teaching and music. I’ve grown more confident as a teacher after meeting with Michael and my students have also shown greater motivation when it comes to playing and practicing on their own.
Besides improving as a teacher, working with Michael also continues to inspire me to think deeply and explore what I could do as a musician. I highly recommend working with Michael. He has played an essential role in my growth as a teacher and musician.”
Jaemee Kim – Pianist & Teacher in Bellingham, WA

“One of the things I loved about taking lessons with Michael is that he really made me think outside the box and apply my knowledge in unique yet unconventional ways. For instance, I struggled with improvising at faster tempos in high school, mostly because I thought I couldn’t “hit all the changes correctly.” I remember bringing this up to Michael during a lesson one day, and instead of teaching me licks and melodies that would work over the chord changes, he put the metronome on 200 bpm (much faster than I was used to playing) and instructed me to play consistent eighth notes at that tempo but without worrying about any harmony or chord changes on the page (playing freely). This, in turn, helped train my ears to hear melodies and harmonies that weren’t in my vocabulary before.

Michael taught me that developing ones own sound or voice doesn’t come from copying others, or showing someone what’s “right” or “wrong”. It’s about providing someone with the tools necessary to be creative and explore the endless possibilities that come with being a artist. I realized, with Michael’s guidance, that I could expand my musical knowledge by utilizing the creative tools he gave me in ways that I desired. Teaching someone a song is one thing, but teaching someone how to apply musical knowledge is a whole other ballgame and Michael has seriously mastered this. I feel lucky to have been able to take piano lessons with him.”

Danae Greenfield – Pianist, Composer & Teacher in NYC

“It is rare to find a music teacher who is versatile and open-minded yet also a high-level expert at each of the genres they teach.  Michael is one of these teachers.  From classical and jazz to singing-songwriting, composition, arranging, and production, Michael is a true master of so many musical disciplines.  And he doesn’t see boundaries between these genres – rather, he encourages students to appreciate the connections between them.  I never fit into traditional music lessons, because I wanted to explore different kinds of music and discover my own voice.  Michael has guided me through so many musical adventures, from preparing for classical piano auditions to learning New Orleans style boogie-woogie and going into the studio to record original singer-songwriter music.  In addition to being a technical genius and well-respected educator, Michael has a deep understanding of the creative process and the highly personal journey that every musician takes.  His sensitivity and thoughtfulness impacts each of his students in a unique, unforgettable way.  Furthermore, Michael provides invaluable coaching for music educators.  His perceptiveness and “sixth-sense” when it comes to teaching never fails to amaze me.  Michael is an educational innovator who thinks outside the box and brings a much-needed fresh perspective to music education.   Michael has helped me find my confidence as a musician and teacher, and I am forever grateful for his patience, generosity, and wisdom along the way.”

Anna Freedman – Pianist, Teacher, Songwriter & Vocalist

Original Piano Music & Recordings

Prelude in E – Click here for free sheet music

Aiko’s Dance – Click here for free sheet music

Two Step – Click here for free sheet music

Galloping Gorilla – Click here for free sheet music

An Untimely Event – Click here for free sheet music