Vanessa Sheldon

Vanessa S.

Palm Springs, CA
100% Satisfaction Guarantee

100% Satisfaction Guarantee

We know that starting lessons is a big step and we want you to feel confident booking with us. If you are not completely satisfied, we'll help you find a new teacher or you can receive a refund for any unused lessons within the first year from the date of purchase.

Lesson Details



Vanessa delivers an exceptional lesson experience and ranks in the top 15% of our teachers nationwide.
Teaches students:
Ages 5+

Teaching since:
March 1998

A concertizing musician since age 9, I hold a Bachelor’s and Master’s of Music in instrumental performance from the California State University Los Angeles, where I was named the CSU system's youngest to receive a graduate degree. In 2005 I earned a Doctorate of Musical Arts from the University of Arizona, where I was the Graduate Teaching Assistant. I have also been honored as the University of Arizona's youngest doctoral graduate, receiving my degree at age 19.

I have performed as a member and guest soloist with countless chamber ensembles, orchestras, and bands across the United States. Highlights of my international tours include concerts in Shanghai, Seoul, South Africa, Madrid and at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. In addition to playing for such notables as Oprah Winfrey, Maya Angelou, Tippi Hedren, Barbara Sinatra, and Florence Henderson, I have played as an honorary guest at UCLA, the Colburn School, UC Santa Cruz, for the Japanese Ambassador and Embassy, and appeared as guest artist with the Anderson String Quartet, Barry Manilow, and most recently with Il Divo, as well as made several television appearances. My extensive performing experience means that no matter your skill level, as my student I will have you performing, sharing your music with others, and becoming an artist.

I have been the recipient of numerous awards for both my musical and academic performance, including the Valeria Finzi Memorial Harp Competition two years consecutively, the Sally Casanova Pre-Doctoral Fellowship, and have been named as a Medici Scholar and on the Who's Who Among American Women and National Dean's List. I am also active as a composer, arranger, and transcriber, and have taught for the past 16 years. Teaching has always been a special joy of mine, and I have experience teaching students of every age and skill level. I believe in an individualized approach for each student and love to inspire students with my own love of music and lifelong learning. I have worked as a teaching artist with the McCallum Theatre Institute (with elementary-age children) and an instructor for the Osher Institute (age 55+). With a solid background in Classical masterworks, my technical skill and artistic vision allows for interpretations of a variety of music spanning Celtic, Latin, pop, jazz, and rock genres. I teach piano, harp, music theory and musicianship at Mt. San Jacinto College, music history at College of the Desert and provide private instruction from my studio in Palm Springs.

*** Lesson Details ***
What do you want to learn? If you are passionate about music and interested in improving your skills I will mentor you to help you achieve your personal goals. I will personalize our curriculum depending on your experience level, needs, and desires. I believe in a well-rounded approach so we'll focus not only on leaning the notes, but the inflections and expressions of music, performance techniques, technical dexterity, music theory, and music history. In this way not only can you be a skilled performer, but an informed one as well, no matter what your age. My students are my highest priority- I love working with children, introducing them to music for the first time, as well as with the adult student who "always wanted to take lessons" but hasn't been able to yet. Furthering the talents of experienced musicians is also a pleasure. I will be honored to help you in your musical journey!

*** Studio Equipment ***
Studio: quarter grand piano, pedal harp, Celtic harp, electroacoustic harp. There is an adjacent seating area so parents are always welcome to sit in on lessons.

*** Travel Equipment ***
Under special circumstances I am happy to travel to students who have their instrument and related equipment.

*** Specialties ***
I teach both Classical and popular styles and can specialize according to my students' needs/interests.

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Assistant Professor of Music
Aug 2012 - Present
Mt. San Jacinto College

Adjunct Faculty, Music
Aug 2005 - Jul 2015
College of the Desert


Doctorate of Musical Arts
Aug 2002 - May 2005
University of Arizona
Master of Music
Sep 2001 - Jun 2002
California State University, Los Angeles
Bachelors of Music
Jun 1998 - Jun 2001
California State University, Los Angeles


Fluent / Native Proficiency


Excellence in Music Education
Aug 2011
CA Congressman Jeff Miller
Leni Arnham Classical Performer Award
Jun 2009
Miss America Organization
Youngest Doctoral Recipient
May 2005
University of Arizona
Valeria Finzi Memorial Harp Scholarship
May 1997
American Harp Society


National Association for Music Education
Jan 2013

Founded in 1907, NAfME is among the world’s largest arts education organizations. NAfME advocates at the local, state, and national levels; provides resources for teachers, parents, and administrators; hosts professional development events; and offers a variety of opportunities for students and teachers.

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Music Teachers National Association
Jan 2013

The MTNA was founded in 1876 with the goal of advancing the value of music study and music-making to society while supporting the careers and professionalism of teachers of music. With nearly 22,000 members in 50 states—and more than 500 local affiliates—the MTNA is the preeminent source for music teacher support, where members embody like-minded values and commitment to their students, colleagues and society as a whole, while reaping the rewards of collaboration, continuity and connection throughout the lifetime of their careers.

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National Education Association
Aug 2009

The National Education Association (NEA), the nation's largest professional employee organization, is committed to advancing the cause of public education. NEA's 3 million members work at every level of education—from pre-school to university graduate programs. NEA has affiliate organizations in every state and in more than 14,000 communities across the United States.

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American Harp Society
Jan 1995

The American Harp Society (AHS) is a non-profit organization whose mission is "to promote and foster the appreciation of the harp as a musical instrument, to encourage the composition of music for the harp and to improve the quality of performance of harpists.

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Photos & Videos

Music video to an original composition written and performed by Dr. Vanessa Sheldon and Ken Glaser, filmed on El Paseo, Palm Desert, and at the aerial tramway in Palm Springs, California.
Dr. Vanessa Sheldon performs her own Phrygian mode composition on Celtic harp.
90-second version of Mchedelov's finale arranged and performed by Dr. Vanessa Sheldon. Recorded on an Arion at the Salvi harp store in Anaheim, CA.
The popular aria from Lakme arranged for harp solo by Vanessa Sheldon
A live performance of Vanessa Sheldon playing her interpretation of Elton John's "Daniel" on harp.
Photo by Vanessa S.

Photo by Vanessa S.

Photo by Vanessa S.

Photo by Vanessa S.
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2 Reviews

Write a Review
Lindsay Oct 5, 2017
Harp · In studio

I am an adult student, new to music in general. I have been taking harp lessons with Vanessa for about 10 months now and she is absolutely wonderful. Vanessa is extremely knowledgeable about harp, music, and pedagogy. She is also very patient, helpful, and flexible. Vanessa is professional without being stuffy and I always look forward to my lessons! I feel that I have progressed so much and wouldn't have been able to do that without Vanessa.

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OscarG May 22, 2011


So far Dr Vanessa is doing an excellent job, my daughter really enjoys learning with her.

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