Suzan Garau

Suzan G.

Portland, OR

About Suzan G.

Background check: Last verified 08/08/2015
Suzan passed a background check on 08/08/2015 that included the following:
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Suzan teaches: Ages 5 and 75
Teaching since: November 1988
Last sign in: Yesterday


I started learning piano as a child, but it was in high school that I realized I really wanted to pursue playing keyboards, because it allowed me a way to express myself. I was hooked. Later on I attended Mt. Hood Community College, played keyboards and sang in choirs and vocal jazz. After graduating on the President's List with an Associates Degree in Special Studies Music, I directed the college Gospel Ensemble for two years before working full-time at a large local church, where I was a Music Director, Worship Leader, and keyboard player. In addition to vocal and keyboard work, I enjoyed directing large and small choirs and ensembles, band directing, orchestra conducting, and arranging many styles of music. It is exciting to experience what can happen when people work together musically--the whole becomes even greater than the sum of the parts!

I've been teaching piano for 20+ years now, and I love partnering with students to help them grow musically and realize their dreams. Some of my students have gone on to be professionals or teachers, and some are playing the music they love with their friends. Others are playing in their churches or in bands, and some play simply for personal enjoyment.

If we get the opportunity to work together, you (or your child) will discover that I am patient and encouraging. My desire is to bring your musical goals into focus through education and creative participation.

What is your dream? Playing classical, rock, playing in a band, writing your own music? I'd love to help you realize that dream!

*** Lesson Details ***
I believe piano instruction should be fun and casual, yet challenging and inspiring. In our lessons, you'll learn proper technique, sight-reading, improvising, and the music theory behind it. I utilize popular piano methods and contribute additional resources, and I design lessons to help you reach your music goals, whether your dream is to play with others, write your own music, or play your favorites for personal enjoyment. You'll explore many music genres, from classical to rock to jazz, including a large dose of your preferred styles. If you play an electronic keyboard, we'll incorporate features of your instrument to increase your rhythm and song-writing skills. Aspiring songwriters can learn skills like chart writing and computer notation. You'll learn how technology--even your smart phone--can help!

The student is responsible to purchase required books--usually lesson and theory, and occasionally a recital book. These usually cost between 5 and 7 dollars each and can be purchased locally. Bring lined paper with you for your lesson notes. I'll supply staff paper, music and any additional lesson materials, as needed. I will encourage you to purchase a metronome (the musician's friend) if you do not have an instrument with rhythms or metronome.

*** Studio Equipment ***
I teach both at students' homes (on your instrument) or at my home, where I have a Yamaha CP70 electric grand piano. The lessons are in the front living room, where seating is available and parents are welcome to observe the lesson. I have a laptop with Sibelius Notation and YouTube at the ready, as well as a mic, mixer and speakers, should they be needed. There may even be a studio cat nearby to inspire you!

*** Travel Equipment ***
If lessons are at your home, it is important that you have a practice instrument, which we will use in our lessons. If you need to purchase a piano or are exploring the world of electronic keyboards, I can help you with the many choices available and recommend instruments in your price range. I can also help you become familiar with your keyboard and those features that will be useful to you.

*** Specialties ***
For individual lessons, I prefer using the Alfred Method (beginning through intermediate), and have also used the Bastien method, and some others. I teach both sight-reading and/or improvisational skills, along with musical theory, according to the student's needs and goals. I'm comfortable in multiple styles (classical, pop, rock, folk, some jazz and blues).

Photos and Videos

Jakob, wonderfully motivated and committed to growing, at his second piano recital. He has had just under two years of lessons.



Feb 2014 - Present
Jazz and Boogie Bands

Two versions of this band, one that focuses on Creole-style jazz, and one that also includes early rock and boogie stylings.

Keyboards, Back-Up Vocals

Sep 2013 - Present
Girls Night Out

Keyboards and backing vocals for all-girl start-up band, as of September 2013. Band designed to perform for corporate functions and limited venues in and around Northwest and Central Oregon. Styles include rock, dance, disco, R & B.


May 2011 - Present
Sanctuary Presbyterian Church

Accompanist for choir and church services; play and music direct contemporary worship band; some vocal/keyboard music performance. Serve on Worship Committee.

Music Director

Jun 1990 - Jul 2010
East Hill Church

Direction of performance, band and choir, some orchestra, arranging and charting, coaching, keyboards, administration and team development.


Associate of Arts - Special Studies: Music

Sep 1985 - Jun 1987
Mt. Hood Community College

Languages Spoken


Fluent / Native Proficiency


Limited Proficiency


Bachelor of Arts, Special Studies: Music

Jun 1989
Mt. Hood Community College

President's List

Write a Review

11 Reviews on Suzan G.

Victoria S. Oct 10, 2015
Piano · In studio
Verified Student
A perfect fit for our daughter! She felt right at home with Suzan. She was so excited to share what she had learned with the rest of us. I feel this has sparked an ongoing interest in music. Suzan is personable, friendly and warm. Making us feel comfortable from our first contact. We couldn't be more pleased to know our 9 year old daughter is in such caring hands.
Jane Y. (Ridgefield, WA) Oct 7, 2015
Music Performance · In studio
I have had the pleasure of playing in very complex musical collaborations with Suzan G. a couple of times recently and am thrilled to find out that she is a teacher with Takelessons. I am a TL music teacher, and having seen her live and in person and discussed the theory of the music we are performing, I can highly recommend her.

Suzan is thoroughly knowledgable about music theory and composition and movement. Her piano skills are excellent especially when seen in the arena of jazz improve composition on the fly with a group of professionals. She can sight read complicated charts and sing beautifully at the same time, for songs she has never done, and these are the challenges that true musicians thrive upon.

As a TL teacher of children also, I can see that Suzan is very family friendly and cheerful, kind and helpful. All good signs of an excellent teacher! Your Kids will love her.

Way to go, Suzan, and keep up the great work!
Renee M. Mar 12, 2014
Verified Student
what an experienced teacher and wonderful person!

Suzan is such an experienced teacher and she has a passion for music and you feel that. She is kind and such a lovely person. My daughter loves her piano lessons with suzan. She puts together nice recitals for the students and gives all them such an individual attention you feel like the only student. She is also an inspiration to my daughter as an accomplished musician and as a human being. We love suzan! We feel like shes part of the family! ♡♥♡♥
Zhanna B. Jan 17, 2014
Verified Student
The best teacher!

Suzan the best teacher ever! My 9 years old girl say after each lesson. What i can add more?
Michele A. Dec 9, 2013
Verified Student
A1 Teacher

Suzan is an excellent teacher with vast experience. She is always positive and willing to go at a pace that is comfortable for me, while encouraging me to stretch! Thank you so much, Suzan!
Michael D. Oct 28, 2013
Verified Student
Great Teacher

My daughter is 11, and Suzan has been great with her. She is always looking forward to going to her lessons, and she has come a long way in just a short amount of time. My daughter loves the atmosphere, and Suzan has always been very flexible and accomidating. I highly recommend Suzan as a piano teacher.
RuthL1 Jan 7, 2012
Great Teacher

Suzan has been a great teacher and is always very encouraging. My kids really enjoy going to piano lessons.
JacquelineL Dec 11, 2011
Learning to play at 52 years old

Suzan is a great instructor. I think it is her teaching skills that commit me to practice and to learn more about music. I look forward to my next lesson.
KerryT Aug 17, 2011
She is wonderful and care. We really like her. My daughter very very excited every time she came over to teach a lesson.She is flexible and gentle teacher. Kerry, Steven, & Christine.
DebbieS3 Aug 14, 2011
I am thoroughly enjoying my lessons with Susan G. She is a very easy person to take instruction from. I always have a good time while she is instructing me on the proper techniques to use. She answers my questions fully and in language I understand. I know through her instructions that I am becoming a decent piano player.