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Private Lessons

I’ve been teaching private lessons  for over 11 years and currently, I teach from my private studio in the Dogtown Arts District of Oakland.  I have a passion for teaching music to students of all kinds: beginning through advanced, including adult beginners. I perform and teach classical, experimental, and improvisational styles.

I believe that learning how to play music is more than the technical process of taming your instrument. I believe learning music is a way of exercising and developing thought patterns. Being able to solve rhythm and intonation problems requires a certain kind of thinking and self-awareness. I believe that these kinds of skills are helpful in many aspects of life. I find that having an awareness of sound opens the senses and encourages students to perceive more of every kind of interaction with information.

As a teacher, I try to create an environment where we can work in a focused way to notice fine details of sound. After a few initial lessons, students find it easier to get into that mental space, and tend to have more fun learning music. Taking time to listen to music is also very important. I set some lesson time for listening sessions and discussion. Students become engaged in what they are listening to when they have a short, informal reflection immediately following the listening. Listening exercises also develop another avenue, or relationship with music for the student.

Please read on for more information about my teaching methodology, training and background, lesson policies and rates, instrument rental options and some helpful links for reference.


Beginning cello lessons utilize sheet music reading skills. I teach from a variety of method books, including: String Builder, Essential Elements, and Easy Popper Etudes. Our main goals include developing proper posture, bow hold and musical notation reading skills.

I tend to structure these lessons to include and encourage instrument exploration, when students can get to know their instruments outside of structured technique. This is when we would also talk about other kinds of music, listen to recordings, and share exciting musical experiences from the previous week. Students are invited to bring any music they have from other performing ensembles to go over in their lessons. This includes school orchestra, parish youth group, etc.

I have of my students write in a practice journal, where they keep a record of practice times, any problems they may’ve had with an assignment, and any ideas they have about music and how it fits into their lives.

At the intermediate level, I have each student work from a scale book, which outlines fingering techniques and bowing exercises. We work on left hand strengthening techniques, exercises, repertoire, aural skills and performance practice. Each student also prepares a solo from one of the Suzuki books, or from *ASTA solo recommendation book. They would perform this piece for orchestra seating auditions and for our studio semester recital.

*ASTA is the American String Teachers Association and has served as a wonderful resource for me as a teacher. You can read more about this organization here, at ASTA’s website

Advanced students begin to work on standard repertoire, study the Solo Bach Suites, and continue work in exercise and scale books. I’m happy to prepare students for any auditions they are interested in taking, including area orchestras, school orchestras, competitions, or college auditions.

Weekly lessons depend on private practice. I spend a great deal of time working with students on “how to practice”, which helps them become more self-sufficient learners and this boosts self-esteem. Students are invited to bring any music they’re interested in learning, or have been given to practice in other performing ensembles to go over in their lessons.


Improvisation lessons are designed to foster the creativity of the student and allow for space and time to manifest musical ideas. These lessons are for intermediate to advanced students of cello, violin and bass, with a solid foundation of how to play their instrument.

Studio Recitals:

All of my students participate in a solo recital twice a year. Participation in these recitals is highly encouraged. This is an opportunity for students to perform in a formal setting for friends and family, in many cases to work with an accompanist, and have the experience of preparing a piece (or set) over a long period of time. Most recitals are held in community locations, such as local churches and community arts centers. Accompanist and space rental fees are communicated well in advance, prior to the recital date.


Here are my standard rates for private lessons:

30 minutes* » $45 » 3 lessons, $135/mo.
45 minutes  » $60 » 3 lessons, $180/mo.
60 minutes  » $75 » 3 lessons, $225/mo.

* For beginning students only

My studio is on a seasonal term system, where students commit to 3 lessons each month (instead of 4 lessons/month). The idea behind this is that, families will always have a consistent payment schedule, but a little more flexibility in their schedules. Each term, there will be some “no-show” lessons that can be applied in the case of illness, emergency, vacation, heavy testing or other reasons. There won’t be any need for make up lessons. There won’t be a 24-hour cancellation policy — you can apply the no-show within 24-hours.
I ask all of my students to sign a letter of commitment, stating that they commit to taking lessons through the term for a minimum of 3 lessons per month. If you attend all available lessons, you’ll have the option to take the last lessons of the term if you’d like and settle them separately, or begin a small vacation, before resuming for the following term.


Contact Me


Crystal Pascucci began to play the cello when she was eight years old. She studied music performance as an undergraduate at SUNY Fredonia with cellists, Natasha Farny and Roman Mekinulov, and improvisational master, David Rudge, where she received a Bachelor’s of Music. In 2006, while living in Brooklyn, she studied privately with Marion Feldman at New York University. In 2008, Ms. Pascucci earned graduate professional degree in cello performance at the Hartt School of the University of Hartford, studying with Mihai Tetel. During this time, she continued studying free improvisation and performance art with Robert Black.

Ms. Pascucci attended Mills College, graduating in 2013, and studied with Joan Jeanrenaud (Kronos Quartet) and improvisation with Fred Frith, Roscoe Mitchell, and Zeena Parkins. She currently resides in Oakland, CA and is working as a composer, improviser, cellist and teacher.

As a performer, she is most active in the contemporary and experimental music communities. As a composer, she has researched vocal transcription and performative scoring of vocal inflections and rhythms. She is an active performer of free improvisation. She has performed with Roscoe Mitchell, Pamela Z, William Winant Ensemble, the late David Wessel, Ellen Fullman, Greg Saunier, Gino Robair, Zeena Parkins David Behrman and the Paul Dresher Ensemble. She’s been a featured performer at Soundwave Festival, Hot Air Festival and Switchboard Festival. Crystal writes for and performs with Two Aerials and frequently performs solo cello with electronics. Being a specialist of chamber music, she has worked with Nonsemble 6, Magik*Magik Orchestra, Oakland Active Orchestra and was commissioned by Transient Canvas (Boston) to write a new work through affiliated, Guerrilla Composer’s Guild (SF). She is a curator and organizer for Oakland Active Music Series, in Oakland, CA. Crystal was an artist in residence at Lijiang Studio in 2015 in Yunnan, China where she collaborated with local artists to compose “Lijiang Flute Poems for Mixed Quartet”. She premiered the work in New York as a participating artist in the Lijiang Studio Index, a gallery show as a musician in residence, in September 2015.