Susan Lewis

Susan L.

Portland, OR
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Lesson Details

Music Theory

Levels Taught:
Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced
I have been teaching music theory for about 20 years. This can be a gateway to arranging, composition and improv plus improving sight-reading skills. I use the many excellent materials from the Associated Board of the Royal School of Music. Students can earn certificates of completion from grade 1 to grade 8. Several practice tests are available to ensure success if a student chooses to participate in the music theory exams.

I customize my teaching to the goals of my students. I can be fun and laid back or very strict and rigorous. I use various methods designed for the goals of my students. I provide performance opportunities through out the year so they can share the joy of music and accomplishment with their friends and family.
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Susan teaches



Susan passed a background check that includes a SSN verification, national criminal record check, and sex offender registry search. Learn More
Susan delivers an exceptional lesson experience and ranks in the top 15% of our teachers nationwide.
Teaches students:
Ages 5+

Teaching since:
January 1991

Hi, my name is Sue L. I perform professionally with Cascade Chamber Orchestra (classical) and Mango Nights (World Music and Jazz). I've been teaching all strings for about 20 years. In the first few lessons students learn how to get get big, beautiful tone by learning various bowing techniques that are easy to learn with a little daily practice.

Then I teach how to read music and play songs in a variety of styles: Gypsy, classical, bluegrass, contemporary classical, rock and more. The album I use for this is a beginning book called VIP Strings composed by my mentor Dr. Lyons. The book comes with a play along piano accompaniment CD that makes practicing fun! Along with this I teach music fundamentals like scales, music theory and ear training.

For more serious students, I use materials from the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music and prepare them for one to two exams a year. The exams test playing abilities on 3 songs plus scales, arpeggios, ear training and music theory. Students that pass get a beautiful certificate for each level, grades 1 to 8.

I earned my music degree from Portland State University in 2006, graduating with honors. In 1996 I won two Medals of Distinction for violin performance and music theory and then in 2001 I received a Merit Award from the Associated Board of the Royal School of Music, London, England for viola performance. I've been blessed to be able to perform in a variety of ensembles and genres such as musical theater pit orchestras, string quartets, the Vancouver Symphony, and rock, jazz, tango, Middle Eastern and blue grass/folk bands.

My biggest thrill is to be able to transmit culture to the younger generation through music.

*** Lesson Details ***
I offer the following for my violin, viola, cello and bass students. Most of all, it is the joy of music making that I want to share with my students.

Private and group lessons
Two recitals a year
Special performance opportunities throughout the year
Classical, jazz, fiddle, rock, tango, sacred, Celtic, folk
Music theory
Customized lesson plans using various methods old and new

I endeavor to provide a fun, non intimidating environment for students while motivating them to achieve their highest potential by providing many performance opportunities throughout the year. Some of my students have appeared as special guests with my band, Mango Nights.

Included with weekly private lessons are once a month group lessons where students can learn essential ensemble skills and have fun meeting other students.

Beginning students learn several simple songs that teach great tone and rhythm using classical, folk, blues, rock, ragtime, bluegrass. Students learn concepts such as syncopation, rhythm, note reading, articulations, dynamics, asymmetrical time meters and and more. Each book comes with a CD with piano accompaniment which makes practicing at home enjoyable.

Students are gradually introduced to scales, arpeggios, music theory, ear training and sight reading. All this works together to produce "the complete musician". The complete musician is a person who has excellent rhythm, pitch, note reading skills and creativity, a person who can enjoy and appreciate music in it's various forms over a lifetime whether it be for personal enjoyment or as a career.

For more serious students who have the goal of auditioning for university scholarships, top youth orchestras or becoming a professional musician, an accelerated intensive course is available in partnership with the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music. In this program, the student is prepared for a once a year rigorous exam requiring the playing of select pieces, scales and arpeggios, sight reading and ear training. The candidate performs for the visiting Associated Board Examiner from London England and is graded on a point system. Upon passing the student receives a beautiful certificate and additional awards for high scores. Once a year at a separate time, a written exam for music theory is taken. The exams are graded 1 to 8 and can be classical or jazz depending on the candidate's choice.

*** Studio Equipment ***
electric piano, separate room for lessons, off street parking,
Convenient close in location

*** Travel Equipment ***
Small amp, Mac laptop and metronome.

*** Specialties ***
I teach many styles and genres such as Classical, Folk, Bluegrass, Celtic, Rock, Jazz, Tango and Middle Eastern.

Ensemble playing with other students.

Professional opportunities playing for weddings and other events.

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Mar 2011 - Present
Cascade Chamber Orchestra

A professional classical/semi classical ensemble which performs for weddings and special events.

Violinist and arranger for Mango Nights Band
Sep 2010 - Present
Mango Nights Band

A popular Portland based band featuring jazz, tango, Middle Eastern and other forms of world music.


Music degree
Sep 2003 - Jun 2006
Portland State University


Merit Award for Grade 8 Viola
May 2001
Associated Board of the Royal School of Music

Grade 8 is the highest grade and represents an advanced level of skill in performance, sight reading, scale and arpeggio studies and aural training.


Merit Award for Viola Performance
May 2001
Associated Board of the Royal School of Music
Distinction award for Music Theory
Sep 1999
Associated Board of the Royal School of Music

Photos & Videos

Instructor Sue Lewis with students 14yo Al Rhoads (cello) 14yo Selea Frost (violin) and14yo Autumn Sevy (piano) performing at the Bridgeport Church in Portland Oregon for June 2013 student recital.
Violin solo performed by 17yo Silvana performed at Bridgeport Church for Sue Lewis Student Recital, Portland Oregon June 2, 2013.
Solo piano performed by 14yo Autumn Sevy with student string ensemble, from right to left, 14yo Selea Frost, 14yo Maria Than, 15yo Natalie Jaeger and 15yo Al Rhoads.  Conducted by instructor Sue Lewis at the Grotto Festival of Lights in Portland Oregon December 8, 2013.
Photo by Susan L.

Photo by Susan L.

Photo by Susan L.

Photo by Susan L.

Photo by Susan L.

Photo by Susan L.


8 Reviews

Write a Review
Sofia Apr 28, 2017
Upright Bass · In studio

Sue was fantastic and had just the right balance of instructions, stories, demonstration, and playing. She made the lesson fun and productive!

Leah Mar 25, 2016
Cello · In studio

She was very helpful and knowledgeable. She also knows different styles of music beyond classical. I am an adult student and I felt right at home with her.

Hue L. Feb 28, 2016
Violin · In studio

Ms. Susan is very experienced, fun and flexible. Highly recommend her.

Sasha S. Sep 22, 2015
Cello · In studio

Susan is a great teacher. Really knows how to make the lessons fun and easy to learn and is always open to me asking questions. I recommend her for any student

AprilS Jun 25, 2012

Susan is a great instructor! She's very helpful and positive. And she lets you move at a pace relative to your abilities. I enjoyed my lessons with her very much!!

GloriaB1 Apr 17, 2012

Very Encoluraging

Susan is so encouraging & gets excited because I'm excited to learn to play the piano. She's very patient with me...which is a huge plus! She also has a way of breaking the music language down so that I can relate to it. It's sort of like word association. That works!

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NickK Apr 10, 2012

helpful and flexible

Susan is a wonderful instructor. She was flexible with my crazy schedule. She gave me enough work to not get boerd between lessons but not to much work. I always look forward to my lessons.

ReneeM Jan 22, 2011


Hey susan is great she is well educated patient and makes it fun for my daughter Sofia. We like her alot.

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