Clara Constance Stickney is a musician and teacher based in Portland, ME. Dedicated and passionate about helping people learn, she offers both traditional and adaptive music lessons to people ages five and above on the piano, fiddle, and occasionally the folk harp. Clara performs throughout New England and beyond with multi-instrumentalist Jamie Oshima in their band “Joy Compass.”
Beginning her formal music studies at the age of 6, Clara was accepted and performed with the Portland Youth Symphony Orchestra, Maine All-state Orchestra, Maine All-state Choir, and received first place in the Maine chapter of the National Association of Teachers of Singing Vocal Competition. She began playing the violin, piano, and SATB vocal music for private events while still in high school.
Clara studied classical piano, violin, harp, and music pedagogy while minoring in music at the University of Southern Maine where she graduated in 2015. She has had the opportunity to learn from PSO harpist Jara Goodrich, Fiddleicious founder Don Roy, BSO cellist William Rounds, contra dance fiddler Becky Tracy, and world-renowned folk harpist Maeve Gilchrist. Clara appears on Don Roy’s latest CD “Franco American Fiddler.”
Accepted into the competitive Graduate Degree program in Occupational Therapy at the University of Southern Maine, Clara earned her Masters Degree in 2016. During her coursework Clara had the academic freedom to study and explore the relationship of music and music learning to the human body and brain as well as many other topics that continue to greatly inform and enrich her teaching of music. Some of these include; motor skill acquisition, innate sensory preferences, learning styles, ergonomics, client-centeredness, human development through the lifespan, activity analysis, adaptation and compensation techniques, cultural competence, and therapeutic use of self. Clara is a National Board Certified and Maine State Licensed Occupational Therapist.
Clara teaches private lessons and small ensembles both in her home studio and in other venues. Her teaching philosophy is centered around empowering people of all ages and abilities to be able to play the music that they dream of playing. She teaches basic skills on each instrument (technique, music reading etc.) while leaving space for students to continually define what they wish their musical journey to be.
Though all private music lessons involve some form of adaptation to be tailored to the individual student, “Adaptive music lessons” are geared toward helping people with unique challenges or disabilities learn to play an instrument in a unique way. This could involve changes in positioning, presentation, or simply a change of pace. Clara’s extensive knowledge of disability and adaptation from the field of occupational therapy makes her uniquely suited to offer adaptive music lessons.
Clara has chosen to be a music teacher and brings great passion, enthusiasm, and love to her job.
"Clara has been teaching music to our family at home for three years now and has become a beloved part of our lives. Our oldest son has cerebral palsy, and Clara's combination of expertise as a musician and an occupational therapist is a perfect match for him. Soon our younger son wanted his own lessons, too, and after a year of cheering on the sidelines, I had the courage to ask for my own adult lessons, because Clara is such an engaging and approachable teacher. She has a special ability to challenge her students to improve while also truly enjoying themselves and the music. There is always plenty of laughter, collaboration, and enthusiasm in our living room while Clara is here!" -Jessica
"Clara is a wonderful teacher who is devoted and caring. She works individually with each student to highlight their strengths and subtly work on their weaknesses. She builds confidence in each student and shares her love of music with everyone. Kylie always leaves Clara’s lessons with a bit more knowledge – and always a much sunnier disposition! Clara brings out the best in everyone around her and makes people gravitate towards her with her beautiful smile and positive words. Thank you always Clara – you make the world brighter!" -Amy, mother of teenage violin student
"Clara has been teaching my children for the past 8 years. I've been impressed with her patience, persistence and sense of humor when dealing with my three boys. Their progress under her teaching has been wonderful to watch and I would highly recommend her!"
10 THURS PICD Open Band leader Portland, ME
26 SAT Dance Caller Workshop Portland, ME
20 WED Contra Dance Amherst, MA
21 THURS Contra Dance Portland, ME
All Images by Robyn Nicole Photo