About the Studios

McGowan Studios provides lessons in piano, flute, saxophone, voice, violin, and cello for children and adults. Through an emphasis of traditional classical music literacy, students gain note-reading, listening, theory, composition, fundamental technique, and performance skills that will enable them to independently express themselves musically, artistically, and confidently throughout their lives.

Resources and Facilities

Conveniently located in Perrysville’s business district, all students and instructors interact in a clean, well-lit, professional environment that is a learning resource center for music, complete with computer/keyboard lab, acoustic pianos, and a centrally located room for parental involvement and observation.

Instructors

Lili Cai, PianoKyle Davies, PianoJanet Kane, Voice | Samuel Mickler, SaxophoneMichael McGowan Miller, Founder | S. Andrew Smith, Piano | Wayne Smith, Guitar | Abigail Tuffiash, Flute

Lili Cai, Piano

Lili Cai holds a Bachelor of Music degree in performance with an emphasis in pedagogy from Colorado State University, and an Associate of Music degree in piano education from Guangdong Women’s Polytechnic College in Guangzhou, China.  While pursuing her degree in China, Lili also worked at the YoYo Piano Studio in Guangzhou where she assisted in implementing the Faber & Faber Piano Method.  Lili was fortunate to make this method the focus of her research as this studio was the first in China to adopt the Faber & Faber Method.

Lili enjoys teaching all age ranges and levels of ability from 4 years old through adult.  She has experience teaching both group and individual lessons, and strives to develop a love of music, confidence, and discipline in her students.

Kyle Davies, Piano

Kyle earned a Master of Music degree in Piano Performance from Syracuse University.  During his time at Syracuse, he served as both affiliate artist and graduate teaching assistant.  Kyle attained his Bachelor of Music degree from Susquehanna University and was awarded the Mary G. Steele piano scholarship and Herb-Deibler piano award.

Kyle possesses extensive experience in solo and collaborative performing and has concertized in several states.  During his training, he briefly studied and performed at the Mozarteum Conservatory in Salzburg, Austria.  Adding to his instruction, Kyle attended the Brevard Summer Music Festival held in North Carolina.  He also participated with the PA Academy of the Arts, based in Lancaster, in a concert series which culminated in multiple performances in China.

He spent several years in Chicago as a professional pianist, where he taught, concertized, directed and acted as organist/pianist of Lake Bluff United Methodist Church.  Noted collaborations during this time in Illinois included the Greater Chicago Opera Guild, the Devonshire Cultural Center, the Beverly Theatre Guild, the Metropolis Performing Arts Centre, the Singing Men of GNN and Members of the Chicago Brass Band.  He also worked with many instrumentalists and vocalists on joint musical projects.

Currently he serves as music director at Perry Highway Lutheran Church in Wexford, Pennsylvania as well as Saturday Vigil organist at St. James Catholic Church in Wilkinsburg.  He is currently a member of the Pittsburgh chapter of the Tuesday Musical Club, the American Guild of Organists, the Pittsburgh Piano Teachers Association and the National Association of Pastoral Musicians.

Janet Kane, Voice

Check back soon for new information!

Samuel Mickler, Saxophone

A native of Pittsburgh, Sam earned his Bachelor of Music degree in Performance from Duquesne University studying with world renowned classical saxophonist, James Houlik.  While active in many chamber, jazz, and contemporary groups, Sam was also the winner of the prestigious Duquesne University Concerto Competition and won a scholarship to the Peabody Conservatory of Johns Hopkins University.  He currently lives in the North Hills and continues his passion for live music through innovative interpretation and convincing performance.

Michael McGowan Miller, Founder

Michael McGowan Miller, pianist, is equally at home as soloist, chamber and church musician, accompanist, and teacher. He has traversed the musical spectrum from playing and conducting musicals, to accompanying ballet and tap genres; from hymns for Sunday service to evening social engagements.

A native of Youngstown, Ohio, Miller began his piano training at age 7, and was winner of several local and regional competitions, including 1st place in the Youngstown Philharmonic Piano Competition. He is an experienced performer and teacher, having studied piano performance at Kent State University and completed his Bachelor of Music degree in performance at Baldwin Wallace College Conservatory of Music in Berea, Ohio. Miller earned his Master of Music degree in performance and Piano Pedagogy Certification from Carnegie Mellon University. His skills draw from a wealth of revered performers and teachers including Robert Hopkins, Lois Ozanich, Stephane Lemelin, Robert Mayerovitch, Mary Dobrea-Grindahl, Ralph Zitterbart, and Hanna Li.

Miller specializes in piano instruction through a wide base of skills in theory, composition, listening, music history, and performance that develop a complete, well-rounded musician. Utilizing modern group class lesson and traditional individual lesson settings, students will learn to perform various styles of music from classical to current, in addition to learning to create their own works that will enable them to express themselves musically.

Miller has over 17 years teaching experience. For 11 years, he served on the faculty as the group instructor for the reputable Preparatory Department at Carnegie Mellon University, working closely with its director, Hanna Li. In 2011, he founded McGowan Studios in the Perrysville neighborhood of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and currently serves as vice president of the Pittsburgh Piano Teachers Association.

S. Andrew Smith, Piano

S. Andrew Smith is a well-established pianist and piano teacher in the Pittsburgh area. A native of central Pennsylvania, he studied at Oberlin Conservatory of Music with Sedmara Rutstein, and at Carnegie Mellon University with Enrique Graf. Andrew lives in Highland Park and maintains an active studio of private piano students. He has also taught at Carnegie Mellon’s Music Preparatory School since 2004.

When he is not teaching others to play the piano, he is the accompanist for the Eastern Area Youth Chorale, based in Penn Hills, PA. With EAYC, he has toured within the United States and abroad, with trips to the United Kingdom, France, and South Africa. Additionally, Andrew has served Community House Presbyterian Church as keyboardist since 2009 and choir director since 2013.

Andrew teaches all ages 5 to adult, using a traditional pedagogical approach. Students will learn to read music as well as appropriate technical skills. His students perform in recitals twice a year, where they are expected to play to the best of their abilities. Students who work hard will discover the joy of making music and sharing it with others.

Wayne Smith, Guitar

Wayne Smith earned his Bachelor of Arts degree from Alderson Broaddus University and attended post graduate studies at the University of Pittsburgh.  In addition to teaching both acoustic guitar and electric bass, Wayne also teaches songwriting, theory, and improvisation through a variety of styles ranging from Rock, Country, Bluegrass, Blues, Jazz, Slide Guitar, to any style in between.  Wayne has many years of experience and enjoys working with students of all ages and all levels from beginner to advanced.

Wayne has performed up and down the East Coast, in both large and intimate venues, including The First Niagara Pavilion, and the famous jazz club, The Knitting Factory in New York City.  He has recorded at most major studios in Pittsburgh with a large variety of artists.  He maintains an active performance schedule by freelancing at regular venues including Christ Church at Grove Farm, and also performs jazz and original music at local festivals and clubs.

 

 

Abigail Tuffiash, Flute

Abigail Tuffiash graduated from The Hartt School in West Hartford, Connecticut with a Bachelor of Music in Flute Performance. In addition, she holds certifications in the Suzuki flute method. Her extensive pedagogical experience includes the instruction of students from age three through adult as a private flute teacher, classroom music instructor, ensemble coach, conductor and music theory instructor at several institutions including: The University of Hartford, Mt. Lebanon Montessori School, Pittsburgh Music Academy, Holy Family Institute, Musik Innovations and McGowan Music Studios. Her students secure top seats in all major PMEA honors bands, perform in student orchestras and enter collegiate music programs. Abigail’s pedagogical insights are born out of extensive formal private and master class instruction with many of the world’s most esteemed flutists and pedagogues, some of whom include: Sir James Galway (world renowned soloist), Bernard Goldberg (PSO), John Wion (NYC Opera), Rhian Kenny (PSO), Ransom Wilson (Yale University), Bart Feller (NJSO), Louis Moyse (prolific composer/flutist), Toshio Takahashi (founder Suzuki Flute School) and Katherine Hoover (composer/flutist).

Abigail has performed as a soloist, orchestral and chamber musician, locally throughout Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia and Connecticut and as far reaching as Germany, Austria, Switzerland and the Czech Republic. As a performer, Abigail is most interested in the schedule and opportunities provided by small ensemble performance. Notably, she performed with the Adaskin String Trio in Hartford, CT. She was also selected as a semi-finalist by the famed Emerson String Quartet in competition. She is a twice named winner of the Duquesne Young Artist Competition. Abigail earned a performance scholarship to the Hartt School and was also honored with a performance scholarship by the Eubie Blake Scholarship Fund. In addition to teaching and performing as a flutist, Abigail deeply enjoys serving as a cantor for services at the Church of the Assumption in Bellevue and organizes music for services held for her daughter’s local homeschool co-op.

Abigail recognizes the need for diverse teaching methods that suit each student’s learning style, goals and personality. Abigail firmly believes that with professional instruction in an optimal learning environment, proper tools, and student dedication, every person can enjoy a deeply meaningful development of musical literacy. Her educational philosophy centers around creating an encouraging, structured environment based on knowledge of each individual student’s goals, abilities and learning needs. She strives to strike a balance between challenge and student ability to create a productive tension between the analytical and intuitive aspects of playing. Instruction is tailored to support each student’s continued growth as a musician with the goal of fostering a lifelong love of music.

Performance Opportunities

Recitals

There is one regularly scheduled solo recital in each semester that is open to all students.

Participation is not required but participation is strongly encouraged. Solo pieces for these recitals must be thoroughly learned and must be performed without the use of the printed music. For a successful performance, students should expect to practice on a regular basis (at least five days per week), for a minimum of 30 minutes per day, for at least six weeks prior to the performance. When deciding on whether to participate, parents should consider their child’s activity schedule as it may conflict with the recommended recital preparation. Students new to the studio are encouraged to attend at least one recital strictly as an audience member prior to performing at a recital. Recitals last about one hour and attendance of each performer is required for the duration of the recital. Recitals are held at the Kean Theater at St. Barnabas in Gibsonia.

National Federation of Music Clubs (Festival)

McGowan Studios is a member of the National Federation of Music Clubs. NFMC is an organization that offers a wide range of musical resources and events. One such event is an adjudication that is held in the late winter (late February or early March) known as Festival. Generally, students prepare required pieces for an event (solo, duet, concerto, theory, etc.) and each student is judged and ranked (superior, excellent, satisfactory, etc.) on their performance. Participation is not required and additional fees do apply.

Community Outreach

Students who have achieved Young Artist status (completion of Music Tree Level 4) are encouraged to participate in performances outside of studio recitals and Festival. Generally, Young Artists may be called upon throughout the year to perform for a specific audience or event. Because these occurrences can arise on short notice, participating Young Artists are expected to have at least three pieces in their repertoire that can be reviewed, prepared, and performed with minimal time and effort.