The Musical Neighborhood

Seattle Symphony will return to Beneroya Hall this fall, but it will be a little different!

In addition to the ones I’ve listed here, keep an eye out for the Northwest Sinfonietta, Seattle Youth Symphony, KING FM, the UW President’s Piano Series, the Seattle Rock Orchestra, and Early Music Seattle.

If you’re interested in podcasts, consider:
Marvellous Musical: geared for kids and featuring stories about composers like Haydn, Liszt, and Ethel Smyth.
NACOcast: Sean Rice’s popular exploration of classical music and its composers. A recent episode focuses on the relationships of Brahms and Clara and Robert Schumann.
The Compline Choir: Every Sunday at 9:30PM the Saint Mark’s Compline Choir sings and chants an a capella service to close out the day.
That Classical Podcast: Kelly, Sascha, and Chris talk to you about classical music whilst making you laugh and learn.
Classics for Kids: Updated monthly, each 6 minute episode focuses on one composer, topic, or piece.
The Piano Puzzler: Composer Bruce Adolphe’s mission is simple: disguise a popular tune within the style of a classical composer. The challenge is both to identify the tune and to name the composer Bruce Adolphe is imitating.

Seattle has had a vibrant musical community from its inception. Whether the Ladies Musical Club, the Seattle Symphony, or newer groups like the Seattle Modern Orchestra, there’s a lot to explore and inspire!

Seattle Symphony

Founded in 1903, Seattle Symphony provides world class music live from Beneroya Hall. Their recordings have received 12 Grammy nominations and 2 Emmy awards, but one of my favorite things about the symphony is their family friendly programming. They have concerts for all ages throughout the year, and some lovely videos on their YouTube Channel. Check out Symphony Pianist Jessica Choe’s introduction to the piano!
The Seattle Symphony will stream concerts live 2020 -2021 season, but are still working out the details. Keep an eye on their website for details.

Philharmonia Northwest

Established in 1976, the Philharmonia Northwest combines a passion for symphonic music with commissions of new work and sometimes unconventional presentations. Julia Thai helms the organization, and they have free tickets available for students under 16 with every adult ticket purchase.

Seattle Chamber Music Society

One of my favorite groups, the Seattle Chamber Music Society puts on two month long festivals each year–one in the winter and one in the spring. These always include family concerts, usually performed for free in a park. SCMS performs a diverse range of music from baroque to contemporary, commissions local composers, and highlights work from usually marginalized groups.

The Ladies Musical Club

Founded in 1891, the Ladies Musical Club has been bringing music into schools, libraries, art museums, and other spaces for over 100 years. They put on more than 50 free concerts every year and take pride in introducing opera, art songs, and chamber music to music lovers all over Western Washington.

Seattle Modern Orchestra

A newcomer on the Seattle scene, the SMO is dedicated to music from the 20th and 21st centuries. They commission and premier new works, operating “at that exciting cusp between old and new, between tradition and innovation” (Vanguard Seattle). They have presented several concerts virtually, including excerpts from Olivier Messiaen’s Quartet For the End of Time, written and premiered while the composer was a prisoner of war in a Nazi camp.

The Royal Room

A unique venue in Georgetown, The Royal Room hosts jazz, pop, indie, and classical artists. They are still streaming performances during quarantine. Keep an eye on their Piano Starts Here series.


A musical community needs technicians and instruments to play well!

Piano Tuners

Mike Gill, a.k.a. “Blind Mike” is known around Seattle for his friendly, professional service and expertise. Some musicians refuse to use anyone else!
(206) 789-2632

Richard Weeks tunes and repairs pianos from Seattle to Olympia and has kept my pianos in good working order for years.

Piano Purchasing

Whether you are looking to purchase your first instrument, or upgrade, there are a wealth of options available in the Seattle area.

For those of you interested in a keyboard: make sure that it has weighted keys, is full size (88-keys), and has at least two pedals. Take a look at the Yamaha P125, the Roland FP 30, the Roland FP 10 ( a bit more compact than the FP 30), and the Casio Privia.

If you’re looking for a piano, you’ll need to make a few decisions before popping down to the store.

First, do you want an upright, or a baby grand, or grand? If an upright, I recommend an choosing from among models that are over 44″ tall–you’ll get a better sound. If a baby grand, something over 5′ at least, or the sound will be worse than a tall upright. All full size pianos are the same width, but you’ll need to think about depth with a baby grand or grand. Try measuring your space, and add 18″ to 24″ for the bench.

Next, you’ll want to decide if you want a new or a used piano. Most of the time I recommend used, because there are many really lovely instruments available.  Prosser Piano in Shoreline and NW Pianos in Bellevue usually have an excellent selection.  A-1 Pianos in Bellevue not only sells but also rents and moves pianos. I’m partial to Kimball, Baldwin, and Yamaha (my favorite is Mason & Hamlin if you’re looking for something on the higher end).  Campbell and Kohler are also solid.  I haven’t enjoyed playing the Kawais or Young Changs I’ve tried–I find the sound thin and the action too shallow.   Stage 7 Pianos does a phenomenal job of restoring older pianos to beautiful condition–and they have taller uprights in addition to grands and baby grands.

If you don’t mind putting in a little extra work, you can also get a decent piano on Craigslist/Nextdoor.  If you go that route, ask me for a list of things to look for, or you can ask a piano technician with you to look at it.  

Piano Movers

Once you’ve bought a piano, you have to get it from the seller to your home, up the front walk (or steps) and into the house. I highly recommend Martinson Piano Movers. They are by far the most reputable and respected piano movers in the Puget Sound. Make sure to book your appointment well in advance! As I mentioned above A-1 Pianos also moves pianos and does excellent work protecting and caring for the instruments in their charge,

“Where words leave off, music begins.”

– Heinrich Heinei