Inclusive music lessons done differently.

What's unique about us?

We're unfazed.

At CMS, we can say with full confidence and enthusiasm that students of ALL abilities are welcome. We don’t just “try our best” with students with special needs - we are trained, equipped, and thrilled to work with them.

we presume competence

We don’t focus on deficits and drill endlessly to “overcome” them - we seek out strengths and teach to those. We don’t shy away from stims or “different” ways of moving and communicating. We talk to students with age-appropriate language and expect them to succeed.

We're flexible.

Learning music should be fun - if it’s not, then we’re not doing our job. We realize that many different paths lead to the same destination, so we use a student-centered approach to guide our way.

We're sensory-friendly

Every aspect of the studio is designed with accessibility and sensory needs in mind. Did we HAVE to invest our time and money in changing all 50 overhead lights in our studio from harsh, flickering fluorescent to warm LEDs? No, but we know that fluorescent lights are linked to poorer outcomes in educational settings and can wreak havoc on sensitive sensory systems.

We keep the studio space open and clear of obstacles, and we keep our “clutter” out of sight to give curious eyes a chance to focus. 

We understand that some students learn better when they’re on the move. We have bouncy balls, stretchy bands, and fidgets available for when stillness is not what the body needs.

We're safe

We follow best practices to minimize the risk of spreading illnesses like covid-19. To keep our air clean, we leave our doors open and/or run our Brondell Pro - a class 2 medical device with a plasma generator, and one of the only air purifiers certified by the FDA to capture and kill coronavirus.

we're invested

We invest in our teachers. All of our teachers go through the training course developed by our founder and director, Selena Pistoresi, who is a leading expert in teaching piano to students with disabilities. All of our teachers meet regularly with the director and engage in ongoing professional development.

Hi, I'm Selena, and I’ve been teaching piano since 2008. I'm the founder and director of Cultivate Music Studio, a course creator and trainer of teachers all over the world, an author of piano method books for students with disabilities, and a speaker at conferences and on podcasts for music teachers. I teach full-time in the Bay Area in my bustling studio of 50+ students, and almost all of them have disabilities or special needs. I'm also currently working on a Master's degree in Music Education with an Autism Concentration at Berklee College of Music.

In 2013, while finishing my Psychology and Music degree, I got a crash course in the field of special education - with a twist. I joined a brand new, nonprofit inclusion school in Silicon Valley as the program coordinator and music specialist.

There, I developed a music curriculum for students age 5-14, all with different diagnoses, all in the same room at the same time. I also taught private piano lessons to the students throughout the school day. 

I observed that many of my students, although considered to have disabilities and sometimes labeled as “severe” or “low-functioning", were musically gifted and truly enjoyed music. I was surprised to find that most of them, especially those with autism, had perfect pitch.

Though their musical potential wasn't always obvious, I could see it once I knew where to look. I realized that teaching one-on-one piano lessons to neurodivergent students was my favorite part of my job.

In 2015, I left the school, and Cultivate Music Studio was born!

Over the last 6 years, we've served hundreds of students locally and around the world, in person and online. We've cheered for each other at semiannual recitals, laughed together at thousands of lessons, and smashed through dozens of musical and non-musical goals.

In 2021, we moved into a big, beautiful new location in the Rose Garden neighborhood of San Jose, California. We've grown to a team of 6 teachers and now offer private lessons in piano, voice, guitar, bass, ukelele, music production; group lessons for babies, toddlers, preschoolers, and 5-6 year olds; and summer camps for children up to age 10.

Meet Our Team

Selena Pistoresi

Founder, piano teacher

Effie Cheung

Piano Teacher

Tristen Laufenberg

Group Music Teacher

Alex Delgado

Voice Teacher

Ricardo Silvestri

Guitar, uke, Bass, Voice, Production Teacher

Stanley Do

Piano Teacher

Erik Neumann

Guitar, Piano Teacher

Charlotte Parque

Piano Teacher

how It works


Choose your instrument or class.

Select your instrument, class, or camp. Please note which instruments are available as in-person and online lessons.


Fill out our quick registration form.

Tell us a bit about you so we can set you up with lessons that make your heart sing.


Schedule your first lesson.

You'll be contacted by CMS to schedule your lesson - no payment required!