Michael Lee, Pianist

DMA, MMus, BMus


Michael Lee enjoys an active and wide-ranging musical career as both a solo and collaborative pianist. He has performed throughout North America and Europe, has given premieres of new works, studied at eminent music festivals and has worked as a répétiteur and music director for several opera productions. Examples of activities include concerts around Ontario and throughout the southeastern US; performances with the Newfoundland Symphony Orchestra and Symphony Nova Scotia; a recording project comprising major works written by BIPOC composers, generously funded by ArtsNL; and an artistic residency at the Lunenburg Academy of Music Performance (LAMP).

On top of his performing career, Michael is an equally passionate teacher dedicated to fostering a new generation of musicians. He has worked as an Instructor at the University of Toronto teaching both undergraduate students as well as students in the Piano Pedagogy Program; as a Visiting Instructor at Memorial University of Newfoundland; as an adjudicator for music festivals; and has been involved in many outreach projects with the primary goal of improving educational accessibility in rural and under-served areas. Furthermore, he focused his doctoral dissertation research in a niche of educational psychology to explore strategies to maximize student potential.

Michael was born and raised in beautiful St. John’s, Newfoundland & Labrador. He holds a Doctor of Musical Arts in Piano Performance and a Master of Music in Piano Performance & Pedagogy, both from the University of Toronto, where he studied with the eminent Romanian pianist, Marietta Orlov. He completed his Bachelor of Music in Piano Performance from Memorial University of Newfoundland, where he also received the University Medal of Excellence for graduating with the highest academic standing. He has received full scholarships for his studies at each institution.

When not at the piano, Michael can be found hiking where the air gets thin, reading in a quiet space or in the kitchen working on a new cooking experiment. On a regular day, Michael does not refer to himself in the third person.


My doctoral dissertation centered around using educational psychology research in mindsets as a framework to analyze the performance process of undergraduate music students. Below is the abstract and a link to my full dissertation.


American psychologist Carol Dweck coined terms for two dichotomous theories of intelligence––entity and incremental theories––which depict the general trends of learners. Fixed mindset learners internalize entity theories and view their intelligence or ability as a fixed, stable unit that is incapable of growth past the individual’s own genetic limitations. Growth mindset learners believe in incremental theories and see their intelligence as dynamic, wherein their abilities are a direct product of their efforts. Dweck argues that adopting an incremental theory of learning (a growth mindset) can be beneficial to the learning process. Combining this body of psychological literature with auxiliary areas of psychology (e.g. self-determination theory), I conducted two case studies to analyze how these beliefs manifested in second-year instrumental music majors at Canadian post-secondary institutions. Through a six-week research period of one-on-one lessons, independent practice sessions, and interviews, I investigated the participants’ respective upbringings, their methods of framing goals, and their responses to challenges and criticisms with the aim of understanding how music students’ beliefs about mindsets affect their learning, as well as how music teachers may be able to maximize growth-oriented thinking in their interactions with students. After an analysis of the data, I concluded that the nurturing of growth mindsets had a positive effect on the students’ respective levels of patience, self-compassion, and resilience in dealing with the learning challenges inherent in music performance. The data highlighted how the participants’ implicit theories of intelligence were instilled in them by their parents and educators throughout their childhoods, and how growth-minded beliefs may be further nurtured through empathetic and process-oriented guidance.

You can read my full dissertation here.


I am available for performances (both solo and collaborative), private teaching, guest lectures and much more.

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