Stephanie (she/her) has been singing since the age of 8. In 1998 she discovered guitar and started writing music. She’s been performing in Portland since 2005 and teaching guitar and vocals since 2018. Stephanie gets to know her students, puts them at ease, and helps them find their musical path. Steph can guide even the most slippery fish into a solid musical foundation to help build good habits that will serve musicians for life.
What age were you when you first started taking music lessons?
8 years old
Tell us about an early music lessons experience that helped shape you as a musician or teacher:
Brian Swingle was my toughest vocal instructor. I travelled from Portland to Salem once a week to see him and he told me that I had a voice made for opera. He was an old school teacher and didn’t ask me what I thought of that, but I’m so grateful he made that call and forced discipline on me. I tend towards building trust, connection, and self determination, but I try to remember to occasionally make a “Brian Swingle Call” knowing that we don’t know what we’re going to be good at until we try it.
What are your favorite bands or musicians?
Ani DiFranco was a big influence. I discovered her in high school and it was the first time I’d heard raw, in-your-face lyrics. I love Talking Heads. David Byrne is not only a great musician, but he gathers the very best musicians around him to support a shared vision. Tom Waits is another musician who never seemed to fit the mold or care about the mold.
Do you have a highlight of your music career so far that you would like to share?
Performing at The Crystal Ballroom in 2019 was a big highlight for me, as well as opening for Bria Skonberg at The Old Church. In 2019 I had two residences at Al’s Den and created a very cabaret environment with live visual artists, poets, and musicians. It was the best kind of artistic chaos. Despite playing at some bigger venues though, my favorite moments with music have been small open mics. Open mics are like going to church for me. No headliners, no money…just people at all levels of performance coming together to share their art.
Describe your ideal student.
My ideal student is new guitar student, preferably a child (4-12). I also love teaching adults with I/DD. I’m not a great teacher for students who are looking for heavy theory. I’m self taught and have found that I’m at my best creatively when I’m learning by doing. That has influenced my teaching style. I have creative and fun methods of connecting with students and building trust.
Describe what your students should expect in their first few music lessons.
Students can expect a Getting-To-Know you portion at the beginning of the lesson. Depending on the students level, I like to cover the basics like the anatomy of the guitar and different playing styles. I am results-oriented, and after learning about the student’s interests I like to dive right in to learning songs or writing songs, depending on what they want to do. I will occasionally do some light theory drills, just enough to support what we are learning.
Why did you want to become a music teacher?
I never sought out teaching music, but when I started teaching private lessons and working with adults with I/DD at PHAME, I found I had a knack for it, specifically being able to change gears and game plans quickly under pressure.