Tampa Bay Music Academy is excited to welcome Sara Maniscalco to our teaching staff! Sara joins us from New York where she spent several years as a faculty member at Westminster Conservatory of Princeton and will be teaching piano for TBMA. She has a master’s degree in piano and has been teaching since the age of 16.

Sara’s teaching career began as a result of her natural love for her instrument. When she was 16 years old, her teacher moved and Sara began teaching some of the students she left behind. It wasn’t long before word got around and Sara began teaching others in her neighborhood, developing her first teaching studio. “I think teaching is often a very natural outcome of being a musician,” Sara told us. “You love to play and practice, and then there are others around you that want to learn, so it feels very organic to begin sharing what you know.” That’s the kind of teacher whose love for music will be contagious, helping students develop the life-long love of playing that we value so highly here at TBMA.

We wanted our students and their families to get to know Sara a little bit before she begins teaching, so we asked her to talk about her musical career, teaching philosophy, and recommendations for students:

TBMA: What is your favorite musical memory?

Sara: The night of my Master’s Degree recital was very special to me. My grandparents came, as well as many of my cousins, my aunt, and of course, my parents and sister. I had dear friends fly in from Taiwan and Chicago, and a cellist friend from Spain performed my encore with me. Current and former students attended. Sharing my music with so many people I love was truly one of my favorite memories.

TBMA: What is your favorite musical work that you have personally performed?

Sara: Always a difficult question! Whatever I am working on at the moment always seems to feel like my “favorite.” Performing Chopin’s Étude Op. 10, No. 12 (“Revolutionary”) and Brahms’s Rhapsodie Op. 79, Nr. 2 was very exciting. They are works I often return to privately. I also enjoyed performing Saint-Saëns’s Allegro Appassionato – what a fun piece!

TBMA: What do you love about teaching?

Sara: I love that the art of teaching an instrument is really something that has not changed much in the last several hundred years; it’s very similar to an apprenticeship. It often takes time to see real “results,” but the end is breathtaking. Instilling in a child the truth that discipline, patience, and hard work is often necessary for excellence (in a world that is very much about instant gratification) is important and I think the classical world is in a unique position to do just that. I love watching my students light up when they have found a piece they want to play, and then helping them settle in to the difficult work of mastering it.

TBMA: When do you recommend starting private music lessons?

Sara: I have found that young children (under 7) often benefit from group music classes. The exposure to different instruments, along with singing and movement really opens their ears and lets them learn and play alongside their friends. I would say 6 or 7 is an ideal age to start private lessons. Students have an easier time with private piano lessons if they are already reading, and can learn and practice somewhat independently from their parents.

TBMA: What brought you to TBMA?

Sara: When I decided to move to Tampa from New York, I wanted to teach at a reputable music school with a serious piano program, so I sent my résumé to TBMA first. I feel very blessed to join the faculty!

We are thrilled to begin working with Sara and to offer her expertise and love of music to our students and their families. Welcome to TBMA, Sara!