Skip to content

John McCarthy formed my technique and my musical values. Realistic goals and long range plans for the future were set from the beginning.  I am grateful to have such a compassionate, profound guide in my life.  Studying with John led me to realize how much I love music and that I want to have a career as a performing pianist.  He is the most influential teacher I have had during my many years of music study.

John McCarthy has been the single most influential teacher I’ve had during my fifteen years of studying music. I first met him at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music when I was only seven years old, and had just begun studies in the Preparatory Division. He immediately made my family feel welcome in the conservatory community and helped us adjust to our big move from Japan to the United States. I became his student two years later and have gained a tremendous amount of knowledge from him.

What I love most about studying with Mr. McCarthy is that he allows for each of his students to develop his or her own unique style of playing, letting them show their personality instead of setting one standard of playing and molding his students to fit that style. He has also served as a mentor and helped me focus on long-term goals for my life beyond my days as a student. Studying with him made me realize how much I loved music and that I wanted to pursue a career in it. Although I now study on the East Coast at Peabody Conservatory, Mr. McCarthy remains a close mentor, teacher and supporter for everything I do. I continue to keep a close relationship with him, and, when I play for him at home, still learn just as much as I did when I first began lessons with him nine years ago. I am always grateful for having had such a compassionate, profound teacher for these past several years.

Over the years, From the Top has presented a number of John McCarthy’s students, all of whom have exhibited the very best in classical training and the highest performance standards.  We look forward to hearing many more in the future.

John has taught me what it means to be fully dedicated to an art.  He is an invaluable guide-musically, intellectually and personally.  John patiently and profoundly educates, and my entire experience of music continues to be informed by him.  He is a true educator.

Anyone who knows John would acknowledge his integrity, generosity, and modesty. I have had the pleasure of watching my daughter grow as a musician and witnessed how eagerly she anticipated each piano lesson. I could tell that something unique happened every time, which moved her to explore more, and deepened her love for music.

Observing John teach was one of the highlights of my week, a time during which I could experience a master at his craft. His teaching is deeply informed by his intellect, and by his heart and intuition.

John McCarthy has been not only my teacher but also a mentor in all areas of my life. He has taught me to trust myself as a pianist, and thanks to him, I envision a future in which I wake up every morning to the sound of music.

Music study has become a deeper and more vibrant experience for me because of my work with John McCarthy.  Incredibly perceptive and thoughtful, he has a positive influence on everyone around him.

John McCarthy is demanding yet soft spoken in his teaching.  He appreciates and cultivates what is special within each of his students.  Thanks to John, our daughter was very well prepared for her auditions at major music schools. Many of his students commute from faraway distances with the certainty that this particular journey is well worth it!

John has the unique ability to point out a single moment in a piece that changes one’s artistic perception of the entire composition.  His guidance has helped me immensely to mature as both a person and a musician, and to have a genuinely authentic vision.

John has an abiding interest in the power of great music in our lives.  He is an inspired teacher who can integrate his subtle awareness of the mechanics of pianism to bring a student’s expressive abilities to artistic heights.  John triggers imagination, relaxation and color.

I continue to be impressed by his enthusiasm for the hard work and complexities of leadership.  John’s engagement with students and their families, and his adroit management of faculty while serving as director of Preparatory and Extension Divisions at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music was the work of an extraordinary administrator.  He is an outstanding model of fairness, integrity and artistic achievement.

I have had the honor of working with two of John McCarthy’s students at the University of Pennsylvania and at the Curtis Summerfest’s Young Artists’ Summer Program.  Mr. McCarthy’s legendary pedagogy is embodied in their passion for music, insights into the score and into piano playing, and deep intellectual curiosity about music.  It was such a privilege to witness the confluence of artistic merits passed on by Mr. McCarthy to the next generation.