Photo by Chaunce Shrewsbury: Emily Mitchell, a private music teacher in Eatonville, plays the piano at Emily's Music Studio, which she opened in 2016 after years of teaching.
Photo by Chaunce Shrewsbury: Emily Mitchell, a private music teacher in Eatonville, plays the piano at Emily's Music Studio, which she opened in 2016 after years of teaching.

Through years of hard work, musicians Tom and Emily Mitchell are using their passion for music to inspire the next generation and connect with community.

After years of teaching private lessons, Emily Mitchell opened Emily’s Music Studio in 2016 near the Eatonville Community Center. Tom Mitchell is a music education teacher for Firgrove Elementary.

The Mitchells graduated from Pacific Lutheran University in 2010. While Tom Mitchell enjoyed the classroom setting and obtained a degree in music education, Emily Mitchell found her strength in teaching one-on-one. She switched from a degree in music education to a bachelor of arts in music with plans to work privately.

Following graduation, Emily Mitchell began teaching private piano lessons at Yenney Music in Olympia, where she and her family from Tumwater had regularly shopped for years.

Teaching private lessons at Yenney Music “took me on a really interesting journey that I probably wouldn’t have gone on had I stuck with the music education program,” Emily Mitchell said.

Yenney Music, for a time, opened a storefront on the Microsoft campus in Redmond where Emily Mitchell had the opportunity to meet people from all over the world. It was an enlightening experience teaching such a diverse group of people and learning new things, she said.

In 2013, Emily Mitchell began teaching lessons from home, and as her students increased in number, and the community encouraged her to find a space outside her home.

After contacting the Eatonville Learning Center about available space to teach lessons, she transformed a building they were using for storage into what is now Emily's Music Studio.

Emily Mitchell teaches piano, voice, ukulele and guitar lessons. Tom Mitchell often drops in and helps on the guitar, his specialty. The couple have hosted summer camp the last three years and directed a play each fall. This summer, however, they will be taking a break.

Normally open 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. four days per week, Emily Mitchell has switched to Zoom meetings for students retained during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Under normal circumstances, Emily Mitchell also provides a self-designed program called Mountain Mini Music, a music program that targets newborn- through preschool-aged children and focuses on the musical experience rather than performance.

Although most of her students attend Eatonville school district, Emily Mitchell offers lessons to anyone wanting to learn. From her four to five student Mountain Mini Music class to retired individuals, she is eager to teach those willing to walk in the door, she said.

Emily Mitchell comes from a family line of musicians and is excited to inspire the newest generation with her knowledge and wisdom, she said. Emily Mitchell has been in orchestra, choir, band or theater her whole life. Her skills on the ukulele come from her grandfather who was the president of the Washington Bluegrass Association for a time and had his own bluegrass band for many years.

Tom Mitchell said that inspiring the next generation is one of his driving motivations, as well. Unlike his wife, Tom Mitchell picked up music on his own, sharing his affinity for music with only a few family members.

Tom Mitchell said he has played music for as long as he can remember. He played guitar with friends, in several rock bands throughout high school and for a lot of weddings. Unlike his wife, however, music wasn’t the first topic he tackled in college. He loved music, but teaching it was not something he had thought about.

“I didn’t think I had it in me. I didn’t think I was that good to teach it,” he said.

During a stint at Central and Pierce College with a focus on biology, Tom Mitchell took a music theory class and was encouraged by his instructor to go to PLU for music education. She saw what he was capable of and pulled him that direction, Tom Mitchell said.

“I never thought about being a teacher, but it just came naturally and I fell into it — it was a calling,” Tom Mitchell said. “It’s the best thing that ever happened to me.”

Tom Mitchell said he loves playing classical music but would never want to tour as a classical guitarist. It’s too competitive, he said. His love for music is about what it does for the community.