By only working with quality, professional music teachers, we can guarantee the highest standard of music education.
About Michelle S.
Performer and Teacher Michelle Saacks is comfortable with a vast array of styles of music from Jazz to Brazilian to Classical to Blues and everything beyond! Born in Beckenham, Kent, Michelle has returned to England and settled in Cornwall after over twenty years studying, performing and teaching in New York City. Having the amazing opportunity to study and perform with many of the amazing musical luminaries who make New York a base has given her a thorough grounding in the elements that make music shine and her positive approach to performing and teaching is a wonderful way to pass on this tremendous music tradition.
A positive and nurturing teacher, her emphasis is on guiding her students to become creative musicians in their own right while having fun along the way. Michelle believes that study should be fun and challenging all at the same time and that it is important to delve into different musical genres to become a whole musician on or off the page.
Michelle is an accomplished performer and Musical Director whether performing as leader or bringing the best out of a singer or instrumentalist as their musical director.
Michelle's joy, knowledge and passion for music make being a part of her musical world a fun place to be. Her music is an amalgam of toe tapping grooves and joyfulness of being encompassing bits from Brazilian Samba and Bossa, Cuban, Blues, Latin and Jazz grooves, slow and sultry Ballads to R&B, Motown, Rock and Pop reinventions.
And her repertoire is ever growing based on the songs her students want to learn."One of the most brilliant aspects for me of music is being able to connect with people; when I can feel their energy responding in the moment to music I am creating. That's truly magical."
"Student led teaching is always interesting and it is an extraordinary privilege being a part of each of my students' totally very individual musical journeys." Michelle
Speaking for myself, I want to thank you for teaching me that music is not something to sweat over and get frustrated with. It really is about the enjoyment. You have shown me that learning to play the piano again can be fun and really is my own journey, where there is no finish line to reach. With the endless patience and encouragement you show each week, I have understood that I can play at my own pace and with my own slow growing confidence for the pleasure alone.
Thank you for your constant cheerfulness and positivity that you radiate through your teaching. Whatever our age, we are never too old to get a “Well done” sticker for our folders!!
Thank you for the gifts you gave
From all the wayward talents saved
In heart and soul you let us bathe
And share in all your joy and grace
With sorceress skills in a magic place
You set us free and you replace
Fear and doubt with light and space
A force of nature born to create.
"I'd like to say how amazing I find Michelle's teaching methods and her passionate enthusiasm for music, I've never in my life seen teaching done with such joy and creativity and pupil-led freedom. The tunes my boys were immediately composing with her and their comfort and trust in her is really inspiring for me"
Rob Higgs, June 2017
"Michelle is a fantastic teacher and has encouraged my daughter to explore music in a totally different way to previous teachers. She has taught her that playing the piano is so much more than just reading the music, so she can now create her own chord sequences from a single melody line. She is so enthusiastic and doesn't push her to do things she doesn't want to do, but supports her and encourages her to try new pieces and genres. I have also been to her for a few lessons, and wish I had been taught by her when I first learnt the piano!"
Tessa Kingsley, May 2017
"I was so pleased to find Michelle to teach my daughter piano: someone who teaches the whole person rather than to the exam, and helps students understand music from the inside by asking first what they connect to musically. And then she draws teaching points out of that passion, almost surreptitiously, so that they learn the theory of music by doing it. Plus her recital evenings are awesome - places to make friends."
Susy Marriott, parent
"Both of my girls started piano lessons with Michelle aged 6, and the eldest is now rising 9. Michelle has been everything I wish I had had in a music teacher as a child. She is a natural musician, fun, supportive and responsive. She has built a robust confidence in the girls in their own ability. She listens to their choices of where they want to go next and they actively want to perform in the recitals. There is a joy about the teaching which is a world away from my experience of being taught piano and I am very glad I found her." Cathy Alsop, Penryn, October, 2013
"Hey it's that fab female piano player - I love her to bits. She's grand!"
Leigh Wilbraham, fan
"I learnt piano briefly for a year as a teenager - unfortunately with a teacher that simply turned the pages of a kids grade one book. So I was apprehensive about restarting in my twenties! When I met Michelle I was instantly at ease and in awe of her passion and simply beautiful piano skills! She inspires me every week to work harder, but understands that life occasionally gets in the way. Michelle's teaching method is unique as she allows her students to set their own goals and choose their pieces, whilst guiding choices to ensure an achievable challenge. I feel that I have improved greatly in just a year and I hope to continue to learn with Michelle for many years to come." Becky Kinch, Falmouth, October, 2013
"She is lovely FULL STOP!!!" Will Micklethwaite, Falmouth, October 2013
"The essence of Michelle Saacks’ methods go beyond de facto “music lessons”. Rather, Michelle has demonstrated an approach to music – in by extension, living! - that infuses infectious energy, and wider perspective, into the entire process. As a lifelong performer with the highest level experience, and a genuine, pure enthusiasm for music of all kinds, Michelle’s tutelage of our daughter has gone far beyond any technical approach – though there’s that aplenty. On a practical level, Michelle has proven to be accommodating, deeply insightful, and encouraging to the extreme. In short, Michelle is a special individual, who is a rare calibre of teacher. Any student would be very lucky to benefit from her good-natured guidance!" Richard Liebowitz, Falmouth, June 2011
I will miss you dearly!!
Submitted by Patrick Paolicelli on Fri, 11 Jun 2010, New York City.
I will miss you dearly!! Had such wonderful musical experiences with you teaching me piano!! Wishing you and Reuben all the best!! Love You Much!!!
Michelle, We miss you!!!
Submitted by Marcia & Rebecca on Fri, 23 Apr 2010, New York City.
We miss you!!! We are so grateful for the wonderful community of music and friendship that you helped create.
Stay in touch.
Marcia & Rebecca
Remy and I are grateful
Submitted by The Roussetzkis on Tue, 23 Mar 2010, New York City.
Dear Michelle: Remy and I are grateful our daughter Solange had a chance to have you as a teacher; in fact, the whole family benefited from your talent. You are unique and are leaving us with a lot of energy to keep growing musically. Thank you for the joy you inspire through music. You and Reuben will be missed. All the best to you. Muchas gracias. Merci.
Submitted by Jack Crager on Tue, 23 Mar 2010, New York City.
Dear Michelle: Thank you for getting Julia to fall in love with piano. Your vast musical knowledge and fun teaching style have given her the best possible introduction to a lifetime of learning and playing. Thanks too for convincing us to get a proper piano. You & Marco make a great party-jam duo as well! Of course we'll sorely miss you & Reuben, but good luck across the pond, we will visit you there, and Godspeed!
Submitted by Rick Cherwin, New York City.
"Since I started working with Michelle as my pianist, musical director, and arranger, life has changed for the better. Under her direction, with her musical vision and ear, her ability to play in any and every genre with frightening authenticity and her knack for being smooth, rowdy, elegant, rocky, jazzy (in other words, about 10 pianists rolled into one), my songs are presented with a whole new clarity and power."
I hope we get to see you soon
Submitted by Elisa Cose on Fri, 19 Mar 2010, New York City.
I hope we get to see you soon. We look forward to visiting with you, Reuben and the Queen of England. Can you set that up? I'm a big Harry Potter fan, can you help me meet him? I mean Daniel Radcliff.
Will miss you bunches. You are the most amazing piano teacher in the WORLD!!! please don't go Michelle!
Big hug and muchos besitos
PS I'm going to send you some art to remember me by.
Dearest Michelle...thank you
Submitted by Susan Ryan on Thu, 18 Mar 2010, New York City.
Dearest Michelle...thank you for being the most wonderful music teacher we could ever have hoped for for our son Jamie, and for being a marvelous and supportive friend as well. Also thank you to Reuben for being a great friend to Jamie. You encourage your students to produce the most amazing music and you bring out the best in them. We will miss you terribly on so many levels...
Love and hugs and all that stuff...
My name is Marco
Submitted by Marco Brehm on Wed, 17 Mar 2010, New York City.
My name is Marco and I'm going to miss you even tho I know that you love Harvey more than me. Don't GO!!!!!!.
(Harvey adds, "Here's looking at you kid, we'll always have Paris"). - M
Michelle, thank you so much
Submitted by Cliff Coles on Wed, 10 Mar 2010, New York City..
Michelle, thank you so much for helping my son Malcolm grow into a fine young musician. Watching his fearlessness during a recital is a source of continual amazement to me, and I attribute it all to your comfortable, engaging style of teaching. Malcolm would NOT have responded so favorably to any other method, and he feels as comfortable taking lessons from you as he does in his own home.
You will be missed!
Submitted by Jan Carden on Sat, 25 Sep 2010.
I have known Michelle for many years. We became a musical duo about 6 years ago, performing regularly in venues in New Jersey and New York. I am a jazz vocalist and Michelle partners me on the piano/ keyboard. We have grown to become an act that is renowned. Audiences love us and our chemistry. We listen intently to each other, drawing inspiration from one another as we create beautiful music. It is a joy to work with Michelle. She is the best piano player I have ever worked with. She brings out the very best in me.
In the last year or so, we have added a fine bassist and drummer to our act and thereby have expanded our repertoire. We are able to be more free in our interpretations of standards, jazz, movie and Broadway songs. I look forward to working with Michelle well into the future.
Alicia's thoughts (as told by her mother)
Submitted by Alicia, a student of Michelle's on Sat, 20 Sep 2008.
On the first day of school this year, Ms. Cardenas asked the kids to go around the circle and explain what “helps” them learn and what “doesn't help” them learn. I'm not too embarrassed to tell you that her example of what “doesn't help” was something her mother does....However, you'll be proud to hear, I hope, that her example of what “helps her learn” came from her piano teacher, Michelle Saacks, who not only tells Alicia what notes she might be having trouble with, but also shows her on the music and piano. Alicia told the class that hearing it and seeing it was really helpful :) So hats off to you, my dear!
From an editor and mom of two rambunctious monkey boys
Submitted by Heather J. on Sat, 20 Sep 2008.
Both of my boys recently started taking lessons with Michelle, and not only are they thriving musically under her tutelage, they look forward to going to piano classes each week!
Wonderful learning experience
Submitted by Lee, a PS 163 parent: on Thurs, 20 Sep 2007.
After our moment of stage fright, Elisa thoroughly enjoyed herself, as did we. Thank you Michelle for a wonderful learning experience! Elisa used to dread going to her former piano class — now she skips there!
Michelle has a musician's intuition
Submitted by Andrew, a PS 166 parent on Thurs, 20 Sep 2007.
If a child is musically gifted, but frustrated by the fine-motor tasks necessary to perform it, Michelle sometimes calls on her cats Lilly (shown) and Tigger. Focusing on them, she says, helps center the mind while the brain processes the musical patterns the student¹s hands are learning. Michelle is both a well-rounded performer and a classically trained teacher. Most importantly, she has a musician's intuition, for left and right brain thinking, that translates quite naturally into right-and-left-hand training — one of the hardest skills for beginners to master. Once William had conquered Bach's Prelude to the Well Tempered Clavier, Michelle set right about getting him to work out, and write down, his own arrangement of a Christmas carol. See if you can read his first measure, and you'll probably recognize the song!
Michelle makes music fun
Submitted by Jack Crager, musician and parent (not verified) on Wed, 20 Sep 2006.
Michelle does what kids really love -- she makes music fun. She also does what adults want -- she teaches music theory. That's a combination that works for everyone.
My twin boys
Submitted by Kathleen, PS 163 parent (not verified) on Wed, 20 Sep 2006.
My twin boys are having a ball. They look forward to their piano lessons every week, are noticeably more ‘rhythmic’ at home when they hear music and now want to take up guitar as well. Michelle is incredibly enthusiastic – not just with the kids, but with the parents as well. She writes me progress reports. Once, she even wrote an email to me while my son was standing right in front of her. She was so excited at his playing the ‘Blues’ she told him they must share the news with mom immediately. (He was so proud!) And I also agree that the public playing (recital) is handled so well by Michelle – with great sensitivity – it’s really a life-lesson for the kids. Although I’m not sure, I think they are truly learning something. My one son who isn’t very musical is pretty bad on the piano, but HE thinks he sounds great. The other son is allegedly doing very well, but he’s too shy to play for me. Who knows? I do know that they are having a blast, the positive effect of the lessons is rubbing off on them in other ways and Michelle is great with them."
Georgia is having fun
Submitted by Rudie, PS 163 Parent on Wed, 20 Sep 2006.
I think Georgia is having a great deal of fun learning piano. Michelle is a really fun person for the kids. She’s affectionate and warm. Georgia adores her. Michelle is subscribed to some service through the internet that allows her to play any song pretty much. So if the kids want to learn a specific song (ie. Dreidel, Dreidel), or one day Michelle wants to teach them a blues rhythm, she has them listen to it several different ways if student and teacher are interested in listening. I don’t think it’s ever boring or overly teacher directed and if it is, Michelle’s ideas are fun. Also Michelle teaches Georgia how to perform in public and they did a fair bit of role playing before the first recital. I feel that these are really valuable lessons.
Georgia loves her lessons and looks forward to them every week. Michelle picks her up from school, so it’s a bit special. She also has gotten to know some of Michelle’s other students. In fact, I sent my babysitter and my two year old to pick Georgia up last week. The student for the next lesson was already there when they showed. Michelle had that student play guitar, Georgia play piano and my two year old was given some percussion. They all “jammed” according to Michelle, and she emailed me the pix. I find Michelle to be spontaneous and creative with the kids
Program Manager at PS166, New York
Submitted by Jane on Wed, 20 Sep 2006.
(From Jane, Program Manager, PS 166 Enrichment Club and After-School Program)
I have had the pleasure of closely observing Michelle Saacks at work in keyboard, ensemble and musical theater classrooms. In a lifetime of my own work with children in enriched learning environments, there are few colleagues I would praise as highly as I would Michelle. She has an extraordinary talent for working with children and young adults. Her intelligence, joyful energy, wit and commitment to teaching effectively make her an ideal candidate for the most discriminating education employer. She creates inspired, fun and academically substantive music learning opportunities. She is also skilled at integrating math concepts in her music instruction, sequencing and patterning, for instance.
My experience of Michelle’s teaching skill in other settings led me to invite her to join the teaching staff of the Afterschool Program that I administrate at PS 166. We were not surprised when the enrollment for Michelle’s first keyboard class had doubled by mid-term, based strictly on word of mouth among her students and their families. Her classes receive the highest ratings from parents and kids alike. The Program support staff and other administrators of the Program find her articulate, responsible and pleasant. I can only highly recommend Michelle. Please feel free to call me if I may be of assistance.