Education and Background
Music School Director Emeritus Nicholas Isaacs earned an MA in Mediaeval History with additional studies in English and Philosophy from St. Andrews University, Scotland where he was also awarded the Annual Sawyer Memorial Prize for Music. He later gained his Performance Diploma from the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London; while in London he studied piano with Edith Vogel and as a vocal accompanist participated in master classes with Gerald Moore and Pierre Bernac. Awarded a full scholarship through the English-Speaking Union for graduate studies in USA, he completed his Masters and Doctoral degrees in harpsichord and piano performance in 1986 at Stanford University, where he also won the 1980 University concerto competition.
Dr. Isaacs has performed frequently as solo and ensemble pianist in concert series and festivals in London, Edinburgh, Cardiff and throughout the UK and in the San Francisco Bay Area. Also active as a conductor of choral/orchestral performances in the UK and locally, he is currently pianist/organist at Bethany Lutheran Church, Menlo Park. His professional teaching experience includes a wide range of subjects – music history, music theory and analysis, aesthetics, coaching and conducting ensembles, world music survey, as well as piano instruction. He has been faculty member at Santa Clara University, Foothill College, and United World College of the Atlantic College, Wales, as well as being guest lecturer in the UK, USA and Canada. As a teacher and administrator, he has extensive experience in curriculum development with the International Baccalaureate and the Music Teachers’ Association of California and has received recognition from the Council for the Arts in Palo Alto (Mid-Peninsula) and Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors.
Dr. Isaacs is Director Emeritus of the Music School at CSMA.
“There is no greater pleasure or benefit in life than involvement in making music. Early development of skills and knowledge will enhance this immeasurably. I believe all lessons should be productive and enjoyable. Both teacher and student need clear goals, whether modest or ambitious, and for school-age students the family should be involved in influencing or following the student’s progress, motivation and level of commitment. Daily practice is essential for a student to make the best of their talent and at the same time fluctuations in progress are a natural part of the learning cycle. Listening to music and learning about music history and theory are vital ingredients in a musical education. Exams are useful markers and motivational tools, though not essential unless the student has more professional ambitions. Above all, the student should bring enthusiasm and love of piano/music to their lessons, and the teacher should provide skilled guidance, challenge, and encouragement along the way.”