Maple Leaf Music Lessons

Creative Music Instruction in North Seattle

Aaron Otheim

Piano & Keyboards

Since graduating from the University of Washington School of Music in 2008, Aaron Otheim has steadily cultivated an innovative presence in Seattle as a keyboardist, composer, teacher, and community organizer. Originally a classical piano major, Otheim shifted his focus to jazz and improvised music, all while assimilating sounds from the Pacific Northwest's verdant rock and experimental scene.

As an educator, Otheim has taught piano professionally for ten years. His experience includes coaching with various organizations such as SRJO Jazz Scholars and Seattle JazzED, as well as masterclasses at Central Washington University, University of Idaho, and a number of area high schools.

Otheim is also known for his community efforts as a founding member of record label Table & Chairs and principle organizer of the Racer Sessions, both of which have provided a grassroots focal point for exploratory and improvised music in Seattle and beyond.

About the Studio

I offer a creative approach that welcomes and supports many of the musical interests, needs, and goals that encompass piano study today. Combining traditional elements with present-day perspectives and tools, it is my goal to provide an open, positive learning experience that is always constructive, flexible, and person-oriented.

My teaching style values patience for the learning process, respect for individual musical preferences, and care for the emotional well-being of my students. It is most important to me that my students leave each lesson with confidence and with a greater appreciation and enthusiasm for music.


With each student, regardless of experience or stylistic focus, I emphasize the following general skill areas throughout the course of study:

  • Healthy Technique
  • Effective Practicing
  • Solid Rhythm
  • Confident Sightreading


The skills and technique acquired through studying classical repertoire introduce many essential piano fundamentals and enhance abilities with other styles. 

  • Study of Baroque, Classical, Romantic and Modern repertoire
  • Interpretation
  • Phrasing
  • Technique
  • Tone Production, Balance
  • Effective Practicing
  • Theory, Analysis


Beginners and those wishing to "scratch the surface" will learn basics that allow for fun, easy exploration of well-known tunes, jazz piano styles, and improvisation without the need to step into intricate jazz theory or concepts.

For those seeking a more in-depth track, I offer an approach that emphasizes a concrete relationship to the music, focusing on building a confident rhythm sense, knowledge of harmonic theory, and an understanding of the jazz language as it's evolved over the years.

  • Learning standards, forms
  • Different piano styles within jazz
  • Transcription
  • Piano-specific topics such as comping, voicing
  • Ear-training
  • Improvisation


In addition to learning songs from different popular styles, students can choose to focus on skills and techniques specific to various styles, artists, or bands. 

  • Common chord progressions
  • Textures, patterns
  • Accompanying vocalists
  • Learning stylistic details
  • Arranging, creating parts
  • Using synths and digital platforms

Special Areas of Study

Students may choose to integrate any of the following concentrations into their lessons as either a side or primary focus.


Learn techniques particular to playing electric pianos (e.g. Wurlitzers, Rhodes) including:

  • Style-specific chord progressions, licks, riffs, and patterns
  • Dialing in tone with effects pedals and amps


Get to know how to use and understand the methods for creating and customizing sound on digital keyboards, synthesizers, and computer music platforms. Topics include:

  • How to create different tones with filters, envelope generators (EGs), low-frequency oscillators
  • Playing multiple sounds at once through splitting and layering
  • Using Digital Audio Workstations (DAWs) for production and live performance
  • Adapting to playing non-weighted keys


Ranging in scope from casual and exploratory to more rigorous, the composition focus is tailored to meet student interests and can involve multiple styles or genres. Using models of pieces or songs that the student wants to emulate, we will analyze and discuss how to create original music.