Foothills Academy Instructors

Catherine Lowell - Academy Director and Piano/Vocal/String/Guitar Instructor

I have 35 years experience as a professional classical, jazz, blues and improvisational pianist/organist, with a background in solo performance, ensemble, accompanying, song writing-arranging and  studio musician work. I have taught music and piano in the private school Bellevue Christian, and currently teach orchestra and accompany choirs throughout the Northshore School District.

I currently perform with the Sammamish Symphony as principle pianist and ensemble cellist, 
and as Accompanist for Columbia Choir 

I teach piano and cello - I was very blessed as a child, to have parents that provided me such a wonderful musical education, and now with my own academy I can share this with others.


“Music speaks differently to each of us and from the beginning we do not know which path it will guide us on; be it the desire of performance, the longing of composition, or the joy of listening. I experience no greater joy as a teacher than seeing the small spark of curiosity that lies within each of us erupt into a flame that will burn forever, guiding us on that chosen path." - Catherine

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Emmy Hoech-Violin/Viola/Cello String Instructor

I grew up in Colorado and moved to Seattle after graduating from the University of Denver. My professional career involves performances with full orchestras as well as intimate chamber groups. For the last 15 years I have been actively involved with the Orchestra Seattle along with teaching privately and in the Northshore School District orchestra program.




"Music improves discipline, problem-solving, critical thinking as well as increases coordination, memory, focus and listening skills, all the while building self-confidence". - Emmy

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Aliena Lowell - Voice and Piano/Keyboard Instructor

I am in my second year at the University of Washington studying neurobiology and biochemistry, as well as minoring in music.  I have accompanied choirs from the time I was in 5th grade, including my junior high, high school as well as the University Chorale and Columbia Choir.  I have toured Europe as the jazz pianist for the Washington Ambassadors of Music and performed in seven different countries.  I currently am the pianist for the Sammamish Symphony, the University of Washington's musical theater program and sing first soprano in the University Chorale.  

" In music there is no such word as 'unable'. Everyone is able to experience music in their own way". - Aliena




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Piano Lesson Fees and Policies

Tuition Fees:

Monthly Tuition, September through June: 38 lessons per year

30-minute lessons - $128
45-minute lessons - $192
60-minute lessons - $256


In-Home Lesson Fee:
$12/month per home, not per student

What is included in Tuition:
Private lesson planning
Use of music library
Studio Supplies
Three 60-minute tutoring/collaborate/jam session on a quarterly basis per calendar
Performance opportunities within community
Collaborative music opportunities
Practice rooms
No Registration Fee




Quarterly Friday Evening Music Session:

We offer a quarterly (3 times a year) 60- minute collaborative music session for missed lessons or for the opportunity for students participating in collaborate music to rehearse/and or jam or tutoring.
These sessions are included in the tuition.  Where a make-up time cannot be found, this session will be used as such.


Recitals/Performance

Goals set and achieved are important in building self-confidence. Listening and encouraging peers is an integral part of music appreciation, as well as recognition of hard work and a job well-done. To achieve this, Foothills Academy holds a Christmas/Holiday recital and an end-of-year celebration along with several performance opportunities throughout the year.


For Parents: Swimming Lesson Analogy 

I am always told, "my child loves lessons, but doesn't practice".  Be patient if your student is in a slump! Keep in mind the big picture.  I think of swimming lessons: "How is it we learn to swim with only weekly 1/2hr lessons and no pool to practice in?" Your student continues to learn and be exposed to a new skill. Often not until they reach their teens does it become a passion, but they have learned the art of note-reading and hand/eye coordination. (think of all those "garage bands" we started in high school)

Now, if we are looking at "Olympic Gold", then we better swim every day several times a day.

The following stages are what I have observed over my 40 years of teaching:

The 6 stages of piano study

Stage 1 (ages 4-6): “Listen to me play, everybody!”
In this pre-piano stage, children love to make sounds on the piano just for the sake of being able to make sounds themselves.  The concept of music is fascinating and they enjoy being able to be in control and produce sounds out of an instrument with their own hands.  Children typically learn through peer group interaction and like being in groups, hence their motto: “listen to me play, everybody!”
Stage 2 (ages 7-8): “Not now, later.”
Once piano students enter the beginner and late beginner stages, they find that playing the piano actually takes practice.  This is different than before, when playing the piano was fun and like playing a game.  All of a sudden, motivation levels have dropped because now piano actually takes work.  Note reading is difficult and each lesson is getting progressively harder.  The student gets discouraged.  The lesson time is often spent with the teacher practicing with the student what they were supposed to practice at home.
Stage 3 (ages 9-10): “Look mom – with my eyes closed!”
Students have gotten past the difficult stage of note reading and music concepts begin to make sense.  For some reason, something has “clicked” in the students’ minds and they figured out note reading through ‘every good boy does fine’ or other means.  Usually at this stage the student’s goal is to play as fast as possible or play pieces memorized with their eyes closed, in attempts to show off to family and friends.  At this age, students enjoy flashcards as a means of learning, showy pieces, and tunes they recognize.  Regular practice time can still remain a challenge due to distractions at home (i.e., video games, television, internet, friends, etc.).
Stage 4 (age 11): “Why can’t I have good music – like rock or pop?”
At this age, the adolescent child begins many changes, and it can be quite difficult to continue with piano lessons.  Their world is moving out of the family structure and into a world of peer association and approval.  Students are in the early intermediate stage and teachers often begin introducing students to easy pieces from the classical era (i.e., Minuets, Sonatinas, etc.).  This type of music is so far out of line of what the student enjoys to listen to on a daily basis.  The student wonders why they can’t play “cooler” music like the Harry Potter theme song or the rock song they heard on the radio.  The student gets discouraged, do not care much for their progress at the piano, and playing the piano is no longer cool.
Stage 5 (ages 12-14): “I want to quit.”
After Stage 4, students often have resentment towards learning the piano.  It takes away from the student’s free time, it is hard work to learn the music concepts, and requires a lot of practice that the child does not have diligence for.  The teacher has expressed some frustration toward the child and the parent is placing pressure on the student to keep practicing, furthering the child’s resentment towards music lessons.  The student is not playing music he or she likes anyway, and figures the easiest thing to is to quit lessons.  Unless the parent continues to force the child to go to lessons, many students quit at this age.  Parent involvement and support is very important at this stage to ensure that the student continues learning.  Even if the parent just has the student merely “show up” to the weekly lessons until the student passes the growing pain hurdles, that is better than the student quitting on his or her own terms.  This is the stage that adults who once learned piano often look back on later and regret that they quit.
Stage 6 (ages 15-16): (If you get past the growing pain hurdles) “No more kid stuff.”
After a rough patch of frustration by the student, parents, and teacher, the student will begin to gain an appreciation for classical music in the advanced repertoire.  Students will begin to feel satisfied from their ability to play difficult pieces, and the teacher will begin guiding the student on artistry and interpretation aspects of music pieces.  The students are approaching adulthood and begin to take on responsibility without reminders.  Usually they are taking piano lessons because they want to.  The student and teacher begin to develop a strong bond of mutual respect and students can become very close to their piano teachers.