North Idaho Saxophone Academy Mike Keepe Biography


I have had the pleasure and honor to work with students of all ages for over 30 years now. What a wonderful thing.

I am very grateful for the following correspondence and offerings for my testimonial page from students and parents who have since become dear friends and colleagues.



Educators don't get their due credit, and I'm about 5 years past due on thanking you for your role in my success. While music wasn't my calling, you impressed upon me the importance of dedication. You were the first person I encountered who actually mastered a skill. Intentional or not, seeing you strive towards mastery of music (and mentoring me to do the same) gave me the road map to mastering other skills that have set me apart. I had to focus on self-improvement and mastery for countless dark and cold hours in order to become a Navy SEAL but it gave me the opportunity to travel the world, live abroad, deploy with the nations best to Iraq, Afghanistan, and Sensitive Areas around the globe. I have even had to improvise more times than I care to disclose! But, I digress...thanks for being a positive force. And don't give up on your less gifted saxophone students...some of us turn out to be solid operators.

God bless you and your family!

Best Regards,
Lieutenant (Name Withheld)

I am pretty sure the first words out of my mouth during my initial lesson with Dr. Keepe were, "Don't get any ideas, I'm just doing this for fun. I don't plan to practice a ton or pursue this professionally." Skip ahead a few years and I was offered a scholarship at Berklee College of Music in Boston, MA, as well as great opportunities to study music at prominent schools such as the University of Southern California, UCLA, and the University of Arizona. In fact, I had a successful and varied career in the music industry for quite a few years - including stints at NBC, Fox, boutique commercial studios, as well as with a prominent film composer - before changing course and becoming an attorney.

I had been playing music in some degree since I was five years old, but Mike made me a musician. His ability to tune into each student, to learn their passions and quirks, is inspiring and unique. Mike's expertise is undeniable - under his instruction, and with the proper desire, you will most likely progress enough to pursue a serious career in music.  With all that said, studying with him is not just a wise choice for your own future; it is an honor that you will carry with you whether or not you choose a career in music.


What a pleasure it is to express my gratitude for my time studying with Dr. Keepe! As a performer, Dr. Keepe expresses a superb level of competency on the Saxophone, and possesses an impressive knowledge of music as a whole. Our paths first crossed my sophomore year of high school, when a particularly bad experience in an extracurricular music program had me feeling defeated. This difficult time however, became a blessing when I began to study with Dr. Keepe.

From my first encounter with him, he immediately pinpointed and began to correct many bad habits in my playing. His capacity to understand the needs of his students and adapt to them is remarkable.

Over the years, I grew continuously as a musician under his guidance; and after graduation from High School, received a full tuition scholarship to Northern Arizona University to study Music performance. I often returned to take lessons with Dr. Keepe, as I always left my lessons feeling inspired by his musicianship and guidance. Dr. Keepe was firm, yet supportive of me throughout my studies, and frequently gave me sound career advice that lead me to where I am today.

I have chosen to pursue a career in Music Therapy, and currently study at Arizona State University. It was once again, through the guidance of Dr. Keepe, that I was able to successfully audition into the program. I will be graduating in 2017 and look forward to a career helping others through music. Dr. Keepe has become my most valuable mentor. I could not be more thankful for having known him.


In just two years of taking lessons with Mike I progressed from being an average high school band student, to receiving a full tuition music scholarship at the University of Arizona.  I completed my Music degree and have been performing professionally for 10 years.  Among local musicians and educators Mike is known for consistently having some of the best saxophone students in the state.  Mike's dedication to his craft and his students is inspiring!


Before I began studying with Dr. Keepe I had little to no understanding of proper saxophone technique. Dr. Keepe gave me the tools to pursue a successful career as a professional musician by providing me simple, yet elegant solutions to common technical problems on the saxophone. Perhaps even more importantly, Dr. Keepe gave me a strong foundation in musicianship and the art of interpretation. Due to his instruction and hard work on my part, I won the Tucson Symphony's Young Artist Competition. I was also able to secure a $15,000 music scholarship of to study at Indiana University, one of the premiere music schools in the country. You won't find a warmer, more compassionate teacher anywhere. Thank you, Dr. Keepe!


In middle school I was introduced to music, as most children were, through a school music program. I found I had a natural talent for reading music and quickly became the 2nd chair alto-saxophone player in our concert band, which wasn't saying much as there were only two saxophone players! In high school I realized that music was going to be an important part of my life and that I wasn't going to get any better unless I had the proper guidance. There were only two teachers of any notoriety in Tucson, one I can't even remember his name and the other was Michael Keepe. I began attending weekly lessons and grew as a musician exponentially. Michael helped me expand my abilities well beyond anything I could have done on my own, and encouraged me when the typical high school distractions began creeping in. He even came with me to help select my next saxophone, playing each Selmer to ensure I got the very best one. 

Not only was Michael an amazing teacher but a true professional musician, even 15 years ago his abilities were almost discouraging because it felt as though his level of play was unobtainable. The kind of talent that regardless of how often one practiced you would be lucky to ever reach.  

Sadly, music took a back seat for me following high school. I often wonder how different my life would have been if the events of 9/11 hadn't affected me so personally, I joined the Marine Corps infantry two weeks after graduating high school and found myself on the front lines of Iraq in 2005 and again in 2007. I still play recreationally today and I'll never forget my time with Dr. Keepe. I will be forever grateful for the guidance and friendship.   

Sgt. Mikhail
United States Marine Corps


Being a mom has brought me many moving moments. But I have to say that the experience of my son's performance at Sunday's competition was a new level of emotion for me. He reached for that moment because of you.

See you at the concert.

I would like to take the time to acknowledge Dr. Mike Keepe for all he has done for my daughter and family over the last several years.

My daughter began playing the saxophone in Junior High School. She loved playing and continued to play into high school.  She was a member of a well-known local jazz institute. While playing there, she learned how to play in a band, but was lacking the technical knowledge and feel for her craft. Eventually, my daughter wanted to gain that knowledge.

I checked for local music instructors and was lucky enough to find Mike Keepe. I introduced my daughter to him and she has been working with Dr. Keepe ever since. Mike was firm and challenged my daughter to learn the correct techniques. He was also supportive and understanding with her initial learning curve. With Mike's instruction and support, my daughter began to thrive as a musician. After graduation from high school, my daughter was offered a full tuition scholarship to Northern Arizona University. My daughter continued to work with Mike during the summer and winter breaks while she was at NAU. She steadily improved under his guidance. He has also given her sound advice about career options and life as a musician.

My daughter has chosen a career path in Music Therapy that required her to get into the saxophone studio at Arizona State University. Once again, she worked with Mike to achieve that goal. Arizona State has a well-known and very competitive saxophone studio. Thanks to Dr. Keepe's work with my daughter, she got into the Arizona State Program where she continues to excel.

I cannot say enough about what Dr. Mike Keepe has done for my daughter. She looks to him like a family member, as do I. He has helped her mature as a musician and a young woman, and she is a far better person having known him.


Dear Mike,

Your influence on our son has gone way beyond improving his music skills. He learned so much from you and you have become a great role model for him. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts, for all you've done for him. We attribute his full music scholarship to his talent mixed with your teaching and influence. You've become such a memorable part of his life.

With Sincere Gratitude,
Lynne and Lee

My son is a sophomore at UMKC Conservatory of Music and Dance, attending on scholarship, and pursuing a degree in Saxophone Performance.  We both have Mike to thank for his success!  After attending Curry Summer Music Camp in Flagstaff, AZ his sophomore year of high school, Chase decided he wanted to seriously pursue the saxophone.  He met a fellow saxophonist at All State who was studying with Mike and she invited us to a recital he was giving.  Needless to say, Chase and I were blown away!  We approached Mike about lessons on that same day!

Chase came to Mike a little behind as far as sax repertoire goes, but Mike saw potential.  He pushed Chase to excel and constantly challenged him to progress.  While studying with Mike, my son made 1st chair alto sax for AZ All State band two years in a row, advanced to the finals in the Tucson Symphony Concerto competition, won the solo competition for the UA Honor Band festival, attended Interlochen Center for the Arts Saxophone Camp, and received scholarship offers from all three universities where he auditioned.

He continues to excel at the collegiate level, playing Bari Sax in an award winning quartet and consistently performing at a high level. He has performed as a soloist with the Sierra Vista Community Band, the Santa Cruz Summer Winds, and is the saxophonist for the Sierra Vista Symphony.

Many, many thanks to Dr. Michael Keepe for opening up the world of classical saxophone to my son and for continually challenging him to be the best he could be!