“It all starts with a song” - Anonymousmary kastle jazz pop soul songwriting coach

Studying music is a lifelong pursuit and the best way to learn is under the guidance of a passionate and experienced teacher. My strengths are in songwriting, singing, and playing piano – in jazz, pop, soul, classical and everything in between. I’ve helped students from all backgrounds develop their performance skills and knowledge of music theory, harmony, and musicianship.

Sessions are conducted over Skype (or Bowen Island). Contact me for rates.

If you are interested in lessons, please contact me through the form on this website or via e-mail me at mk(at)

You can also read my blog posts for further insight and inspiration.

“Good artists copy, great artists steal.” – Picasso


1 - What topics do you cover?


  • Finding great song ideas/metaphors
  • How to write great lyrics
  • Writing effective song parts (verse, chorus, bridge, etc.)
  • Developing melodic, rhythmic, and harmonic ideas
  • Writing in different feels
  • Developing narrative through a song
  • Building harmony and cadence
  • Finding your personal voice/style
  • Arranging
  • Pre-production
  • Creating your own demos and recordings at home in Logic
  • Mindset – confidence, courage, mindfulness


  • Technique (Beginner-Advanced)
  • Classical and Jazz Harmony/Reharmonization
  • Improvisation techniques
  • Transcription
  • Ear Training
  • Sight Reading
  • Building repertoire
  • Stage Presence, Performance techniques, and Mindset


  • Technique
  • Breathing
  • Phrasing
  • Building repertoire
  • Stage Presence, Performance techniques, and Mindset

2 - How can someone “teach” songwriting?

To learn songwriting you need two crucial elements – writing your own songs, and analyzing other people’s. I can help you with both!

As artists, we are so emotionally connected to our work; we often need an objective ear to point out what’s working and what’s not. Similarly, I have spent my life continuing to hone my craft as well as analyzing great music to figure out what works, and how to incorporate it within my own style. This is my biggest passion in life.

My Philosophy

Songwriting is a very personal form of expression and one that deserves a lot of care. After decades of songwriting, I recently went back to the drawing board and completely reworked my writing process. I studied with mentors, co-wrote with colleagues, and deconstructed everything I thought I knew about writing a song.

What I learned is that we often don’t push the editing process far enough. I used to write a song, tighten it up a bit, and call it done. But now I’ve learned several new techniques to hone every aspect of the metaphor, melody, lyrics, harmony, structure, arrangement, and production. After all, if you’re truly writing your best work, it should stand up to the scrutiny!

Music is a powerful statement and it’s worth the effort to be utterly clear on what you are saying and putting out into the world.

The current neuroscience research on brain development and formation of habits can be deeply applied to learning any instrument or musical concept. In short “practice makes permanent”. The more we develop our inner ear to be clear on what sound we’re after, the more we’ll be able to achieve that sound with the most ease and flow.

Every student is unique. We’ll begin our sessions by assessing what your needs and passions are develop a lesson plan according to your musical goals.

3 - How often are the sessions?

For children/teens, I recommend sessions every week to build continuity.

For adults, I recommend sessions at least every other week, to build continuity and momentum, which leads to quicker progress and results.

Music Business

  • Grant writing
  • Branding
  • Online marketing strategy (social media, email marketing, sales funnels, Facebook Ads)
  • Touring
  • Mindset – confidence, courage, mindfulness