San Pedro, CA


Results Oriented Professional

800+ Hours
4.9 average from 252 ratings
— Doug, Palos Verdes Peninsula, CA on 10/2/17


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Hood College for Women, Frederick, MD
Applied Music
Indiana State University - correspondence course
Platt College, Cerritos, CA


Hood College for Women, Frederick, MD (Applied Music)

Indiana State University - correspondence course (Other)

Platt College, Cerritos, CA (Other)


As a former professional performer, I know the importance of a confident and appealing presentation. Whether it is performance in the classroom or in a professional setting, speaking clearly, using correct grammar, and sequencing are of utmost importance. As a teacher in private settings for most of my adult life (piano, voice, art, performance) I found it a natural transition to the fields of English, grammar and speech. I have worked with students from the age of 4 to people in their 70's, all wanting to improve their ability to communicate, whether in music, art or the English language.

My approach is always to provide a comfortable setting and an element of fun in learning. This is easily achieved by intuiting the comfort level and personality of the student. My first session with a student is largely spent assessing their individual needs and goals. Thereafter, I formulate a lesson plan to give direction to the attainment of these goals.

I am comfortable, and enjoy, working with ESL students, and have been teaching and tutoring them for over 10 years. I have considerable experience with those of Brazilian, Cambodian, Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Spanish and Portuguese, French, Russian, Vietnamese, language backgrounds.

I place a great deal of emphasis on reading comprehension, because I believe that is the key which unlocks the door to all learning. My aim is always to coach and encourage my students to achieve their goals because they truly desire to go forward in their lives with confidence.
As a former professional performer, I know the importance of a confident and appealing presentation. Whether it is performance in the classroom or in a professional setting, speaking clearly, using correct grammar, and sequencing are of utmost importance. As a teacher in private settings for most of my adult life (piano, voice, art, performance) I Read more

24 hours notice required

Travel to your home greater than 7.5 miles; SAT & ACT Test preparation; special needs tutoring are subject to negotiation. Music lessons: $38.00 for 30 minutes or $70 for 60 minutes.

Travel Radius
Travels within 7 miles of San Pedro, CA 90732
Background Check: Passed


- Doug, Palos Verdes Peninsula, CA on 10/2/17

"Knowledgeable tutor"

- Rika, Torrance, CA on 8/18/16

"Very knowledgeable, organized and professional"

- Dawn, San Pedro, CA on 7/15/16
PATRICIA replied on 7/18/2016

Thank you for your nice review, Dawn. I appreciate the fact that you selected me and we're pleased with the results.

"Patient and caring tutor"

- Sandra, Rancho Palos Verdes, CA on 2/12/16
PATRICIA replied on 7/14/2016

I learned English for four years in my school in Fribourg (Switzerland), but it was difficult for the American people to understand me because of my accent and my pronunciation. During my English class in San Pedro with Patricia Merrill, I studied how to pronounce the longs and shorts vowels correctly witch helped me greatly to speak in a way that Americans can understand me. She also gave me confidence to have conversation with the people.

"Talented, Wise Music And Voice Teacher Who Challenges You To The Next Level"

- Felix, Redondo Beach, CA on 8/25/14
PATRICIA replied on 8/25/2014

Dear Felix,

Thank you for your very kind remarks. I very much appreciate the time and thought you put into your comments. I truly hope that your injury heals and your health situation will allow you to resume lessons at some point.

Best regards,


"Great Tutor!"

- Xiomara, Redondo Beach, CA on 11/24/13

"Good teacher!"

- Jing, Palos Verdes Peninsula, CA on 9/20/13

"The great tutor I have been looking for"

- Binh, Torrance, CA on 6/3/13
PATRICIA replied on 7/18/2013

You are a wonderful student and a talented, hard working woman. I have the greatest respect and admiration for you.

"The perfect teacher I've been looking for"

- Chansik, Las Vegas, NV on 1/4/13

"Great Tutor"

- James, Long Beach, CA on 12/26/12

"Great Teacher!"

- Ana, Torrance, CA on 12/18/12

"Patricia is a not only a good teacher but also a good singer."

- Sage, Rancho Palos Verdes, CA on 6/1/12

"Great tutor"

- Marisela, Bellflower, CA on 2/19/12

"GREAT tutor!"

- Josalyn, Culver City, CA on 11/29/11

"Great Tutor"

- Kayo, Redondo Beach, CA on 1/21/11

"Excellent Lesson"

- Roshanak, Rancho Palos Verdes, CA on 1/18/11
Elementary (K-6th),
Elementary Math
Elementary Science
Art History,
Test Preparation:
ACT English,
ACT Reading,
SAT Reading,
SAT Writing,
American History,
Art History,
Music History, Social Studies,
Special Needs:
Elementary (K-6th),
Elementary Math, Elementary Science, Phonics,
Study Skills
Elementary Education:
Elementary (K-6th),
Elementary Math, Elementary Science, Grammar,
Study Skills,
Vocabulary, Writing

Approved subjects are in bold.

Approved subjects

In most cases, tutors gain approval in a subject by passing a proficiency exam. For some subject areas, like music and art, tutors submit written requests to demonstrate their proficiency to potential students. If a tutor is interested but not yet approved in a subject, the subject will appear in non-bold font. Tutors need to be approved in a subject prior to beginning lessons.

ACT English

The ACT English Test consists of 75 questions to be answered in 45 minutes. The questions are multiple choice, and they measure an individual's knowledge of English grammar, usage, sentence construction, punctuation, organization, and style. I like to use the most recent guidelines available when tutoring my students for test preparation, so I will be using the Princeton Review's Crash Course for the ACT, 3rd Edition, as a main source for studies and question and answer sessions with my students. I supplement this with AP English exercises to ensure that my students have a solid base from which to answer test questions. I alternate between verbal and written exercises to keep the process interesting and relevant.

ACT Reading

I am a firm believer in the importance of reading for content and comprehension, so that is the approach I take when tutoring this subject. I teach my students how to look for key words, key sentences, order and flow of paragraphs and how to scan for speed. All of this is done without sacrificing the most important element: comprehension of content. I provide passages for the students to read, followed by a series of questions which tests their understanding and retention of the material. Gradually, I increase the difficulty or complexity of the passages to raise the level of proficiency for the student.

American History

American (or U.S. History) is a subject which can seem overwhelming because of the amount of data it covers. I like to teach from a chronological outline, which highlights the most important and significant events as they occurred. I enrich the experience by introducing carefully selected anecdotes and experiences which amplify the understanding of key events.

Art History

Although Music was my major and Art my minor in college, I actually graduated with enough credits in Art to consider it a major as well. I took classes in Art History, Art Appreciation and Studio Art which included sculpture, jewelery design and crafting, as well as painting in oils and other media. Many of my pieces were sold, even before I graduated, including one which was bought the President of the college. I have taught art in private studios for over 20 years, incorporating all aspects of the history, appreciation, as well as the creation of it.


I have been drawing since I was old enough to hold a crayon. I graduated from college with enough credits in applied (studio) art to count as a major. I directed an art program for teens and adults in Palos Verdes, CA, for almost 10 years. I believe in teaching the basics to provide a solid foundation for future goals such as painting or sculpting.

Ear Training

Ear training is probably the single most important aspect of music lessons, whether in voice or instrument. As an instructor of both piano and voice, I emphasize ear training right along with the most basic exercises. When I was a music major in college, my classmates and I were frequently tested on our ability to pick a tone "out of the air" to develop or refine perfect pitch. Some people are born with perfect pitch, but others must work to develop it. Once mastered, it enables a student to sight read easily and as a result, auditions become much easier. Vocal harmonizing requires a good ear. Instrumentalists benefit in improvisation and "jam sessions," as well. I am dedicated to assisting musicians of all ages and levels of experience in achieving a "good ear."

Elementary (K-6th)

My experience in teaching K-6th includes 4 years at a private learning center in Torrance, CA, teaching this age group English, reading and speech. The majority of these students have been ESL students from Asia, so my skills in communicating are very high. I enjoy teaching children in these very formative years.


I provide a solid approach to the English Language Arts in terms of grammar, syntax, composition, comprehension, writing and literature.


I have taught English to Korean children aged 5 - 11 in a private learning center for four years. Early on, I was asked to develop a program for Speech Instruction at this school. I did so, and it has become a very popular program. I have also worked with adults, who need to improve their communication skills, especially for employment purposes. Since I have facility with a number of languages, myself, I am able to easily learn how the vocabulary and pronunciation of words in various languages can impede the learning of spoken English. This ability facilitates the development of exercises and modalities to correct these speech problems. As a result, my students gain greater confidence in speaking in front of and to others.

General Music

General music can include basic music theory and music appreciation as well as the fundamentals of reading music and learning such things as time signatures, key signatures, tempos, and categories of music. Depending on the particular interest of the student, this program can be customized to include instrumentation and/or vocal music. It can include music appreciation and investigation of music of various cultures.

I graduated from College with a degree in applied music in piano and voice. I received departmental honors and went on to sing with the San Diego Opera Company as well as numerous choirs and choral groups as a professional soloist. All that I have learned and used in my professional career as a performer, I have used to create a learning method that fosters the appreciation, history and understanding of music as well as its application vocally and instrumentally. I use a combination of audio and visual techniques in addition to exercises to acquaint the student with various genres of music.


Grammar is as important to speaking and writing English as oxygen is to the air we breathe. Grammar refers to the way we need to put words together in a sentence to make sense and to do so accurately. The best scenario is starting with a student in the early grades of elementary school, but, since that is not always the case with tutoring students, I put great emphasis on communicating with proper grammar while I am teaching it. I will correct a student"s verbal English as I am teaching the written form. I start with various simple exercises of matching noun and verb forms, and gradually increase the complexity of sentence formation. I use repetition of correct grammar in the form of word searches, puzzles, and short stories. Flash cards are especially useful for the younger students. I like to incorporate brief question and answer segments in each session so both the student and I know that learning is occurring and progress is being made.


As a student, I was taught the Palmer method of handwriting in my early years. This is a form of cursive (joined writing) that is still used today. A simplified variation (D'Nealian) is a bit simpler, and a style I can teach as well. Cursive writing is preceded by printing in Upper and lowercase letters. I have a variety of worksheets for students to trace and learn the handmovements for these different styles of handwriting. Gradually, they no longer need to trace and are able to create the letters on their own.

While studying drafting, prior to working in architecture and space planning, I learned the block style of printing (all Capitals) which I am also able to teach.

I have taught pre-school and school children how to form their letters to print and to write in cursive in a private learning center which catered to Asian children. These children had to learn how to write the English Language, as well as speak it. My methods, with the appropriate worksheets were very successful.


I grew up in a home surrounded by fine literature. Between my mother's and father's collections, I was introduced to leather bound, gold leaf embossed, original and limited editions of works by Thackeray, McCauley, Shakespeare, Winston Churchill, Abraham Lincoln, The Orators of Rome, Gibbons History of Rome, etc.

I was never at a loss for some wonderful and inspired reading. I continue my love of poetry and fine literature to this day. I have written numerous poems, several of which have been published. I enjoy working with students who long for a deeper understanding of great literature.

Music Theory

Music theory is the study of how and why music works and explains the fundamentals of rhythm, melody, harmony, structure, form and texture. I teach music theory as an integral part of all music lessons, whether I am teaching piano or voice lessons. I like to use visual aids to help the students better understand the musical terms, and I like to show the relationship between music theory and notation and mathematics. Students who tend to be analytical can relate to this style rather easily. Students who are more conceptual respond to my demonstrations using voice and piano. I emphasize the aspects of music theory as building blocks to a better understanding of music. Written exercises and flash cards are some of my useful tools in teaching music theory.


I received my first easel and set of oil paints when I was 7 years old. I had been drawing since I could hold a crayon. Although my declared major in college was music, I graduated with enough credits in art to consider it a major as well. While I was still a student, the president of the college bought one of my paintings that was part of an exhibit.

Since then I have done commissioned portraiture and various other styles of painting. In 1995 I began intense training with a Master Portrait Artist and was subsequently hired by him to direct an art program in one of his studios. I taught drawing and painting there to 60 students a week for almost 10 years. During that time I had several of my paintings published in limited editions. Some of my work can be seen on my website. I believe in the importance of accurate drawing before venturing into other areas of visual art.


Learning phonics is the key to learning to read and to the correct pronunciation of most major languages of the industrialized world. I begin the study of phonics with youngsters by picture/word association and beginning sounds of the letters. We start with the consonants and blends and then include the vowel sounds, differentiating between the short vowel sounds and the long vowel sounds. For some ESL students, blends and digraphs present challenges, so I work with mirrors and sometimes drinking straws to help them learn the placement of the tongue and its activity within the mouth, against the teeth and the hard and soft palate. Repetition memorization of verses and tongue twisters all make the process fun and effective for the students, regardless of their ages.


My older sister was given piano lessons, and I watched from the doorway so I could learn too. I was self taught until I went to college and, based on my skills in sight reading was accepted as a music major. I received my BA in piano and voice, and actually was the first music major in 69 years to qualify for an Honors thesis and Town Hall performance. I taught piano to local youngsters while I, myself, was a student. I have taught piano privately for a majority of my adult life to this day.


The first thing I look for when proofreading is the grammatical presentation. If the grammar is not correct, the content will not be read with the intended message of the writer. We all know that "we only have once chance to make a first impression," so it is vitally important to make that first impression the best in every way.

Correct spelling is vitally important. Instant grammar and spell checkers do exist on the internet, but they are not 100% accurate all the time, and do not always correct content within the particular context of the written material. That is why a human proofreader is necessary. I provide the human critical eye.

Style presentation is another feature that I focus on, because of the need to get the reader's attention, and to hold it. I work with my students to make the graphic presentation as appealing as the content.

I believe that following these three steps in proofreading will produce great results.

Public Speaking

From years of experience appearing and performing in public, I have defined and refined my approach to public speaking. In tutoring others to speak publicly, I work with the student to defeat his/her fears using a combination of breathing and visualization techniques. I teach the student how to create rapport with the audience by means of eye contact and simple gestures. I teach the student important organizational skills which will limit endless hours of preparation. Lastly, I coach the student on how to prepare for questions that might come up in response to the presentation.


I believe that the ability to read is the most important requirement for learning any and all subjects, so I really focus on this subject. I use a combination of phonics and visuals to aid the student who is struggling with reading. Flash cards used in conjunction with vocabulary drills can be most effective in helping the student to increase his ability to read. Learning how to read the words is only a part of the whole, however. Being able to comprehend and remember what has been read is the goal. I teach the student how to scan for key words and sentences without losing content. I like to use reading materials that make the learning process fun.

SAT Reading

Because comprehension is so important, I focus on developing the ability to scan and assess main points, key words and phrases quickly. This skill enables the student to read large amounts of copy in a limited amount of time, and quickly zero in on the crucial content. I demonstrate the importance of using the process of elimination to answer the tricky multiple choice questions, and I show the student how to develop this skill. I teach the student how to quickly and accurately decipher the unimportant details from the important ones, so as to help him/her get to the subject, theme, tone, and audience of the material.

SAT Writing

Because the writing portion of the SAT consists of an essay and multiple choice questions, I first try to assess the student's strongest and weakest areas, so that I can focus my tutoring in the areas that need the most help first.

Since the essay prompt is assigned, I coach the student to write persuasively on the topic given, regardless of how much information he or she may know on the subject. The key is to take a position and strongly argue or support it. I concentrate my efforts in the areas of organization, sentence structure, topic development, vocabulary and proper grammar.

In the next two sections, which are multiple choice, I work with the student to effectively use the process of elimination in helping to determine the correct answer. Since many of the questions will have errors of grammar, I make sure that the student is strong in this area. Subject/verb agreement is one of the major stumbling blocks for students, because the errors can be very subtle. I work with the student to be confident about this aspect of grammar and sentence construction.

Sight Singing

Since sight singing requires accuracy in 3 main areas: Rhythm, Melodies and Custom modes, I incorporate all three into my method of teaching. I teach rhythm by breaking down and illustrating time signatures with the most common meter (4/4) and gradually advancing to the more complex meters such as 6/8, 9/8, and 12/8. Once there is an understanding of, and ability to recognize and tap out the correct rhythms, randomly, I more into the next segment which is Melodies. I teach this by beginning with solfeggio (learning the notes of the scales by using the syllables: do, re, mi,fa,so,la,ti). Gradually I teach the student to learn the intervals from unison to octave. This requires training the ear, using repetitive exercises. When both rhythm & melody are under control, I move to Customized, or Complex combinations of rhythms and melodies.

Social Studies

As I college graduate from a liberal arts college, I of course, was required to take Social Studies. Now that this subject is taught throughout elementary school and secondary school, I prepare teaching plans based on the grade level of the student. Frequently I am hired for Study skills which results in my tutoring diverse subjects including Social Studies. My lesson plan for each student is a result of research and printed documents, as well as links to sites online which can amplify and enrich the students' text books and class notes. I am knowledgeable on Geography, History, Civics, Government and Current Events.


There are various methods that can be used to acquire the skill of spelling successfully. I assess each student's ability in reading and phonics prior to determining the best method. For some students, seeing the whole word and writing it a number of times is the way to learn the correct spelling. A combination of reading, phonics and repetition will produce good results. I provide monitoring and testing to assure success in this field.

Study Skills

Because I excelled in my own studies throughout grammar school, high school, college and post graduate work, I believe I am qualified to assist students in their efforts to achieve maximum results in their study efforts. I can guide them and help them to develop the skills to get to the heart of the problems or questions asked and show them shortcuts to finding answers or solving problems of critical thinking. I will show them how to organize their study time to prioritize and get the most out of their allotted time.

I encourage the use of planners to help the students see what assignments and tests are upcoming, so they can plan their study time accordingly.


Since the TOEFL exam requires proficiency in four main components: LISTENING, STRUCTURE, READING, and WRITING, I focus my instruction in each of these areas in a coordinated way. Each session with my student involves practice in the listening and understanding of the spoken language, with repetition and correction of any phonemes or words which have not been pronounced correctly. The lesson also includes practice in reading and exercises to determine the level of comprehension. The written portion of the instruction incorporates grammar, style and topic recognition and comprehension. Homework is assigned to provide a steady basis of study for the student.

Voice (Music)

I was a music major in college in both piano and voice. My vocal studies were conducted with a visiting professor (Joseph Victor Laderroute) from Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore, MD. In the Spring of my graduation from college I gave my Town Hall performance, in which I read from my honors thesis, played piano for 20 minutes and sang for 20 minutes.

Subsequently, I sang with the San Diego Opera Company, and had such supporting roles as the High Priestess in Aida. I also was active in musical theater, performing the roles of Laurie, in"Oklahoma," Marsinah in "Kismet," Julie Jordan in "Carousel," to name a few.

I was a professional church soloist for the First Congregational Church in Mission Hills, CA for 8 years and did numerous solo performance in concert.

I have taught singing lessons for most of my adult life.


In tutoring for the SAT writing section, I start by assessing the student's proficiency of English Grammar and overall writing skills. I teach the student to take a "prompt" and develop it into a well written essay in a limited amount of time using simple methods to organize information; to write catchy and interesting topic sentences: to check for grammar errors to avoid poorly constructed sentences. I show the student how to identify poorly written sentences and how to improve them. I use a similar technique in showing the student how to identify poorly written paragraphs, and the ways to improve upon them.

Hood College for Women, Frederick, MD
Applied Music
Indiana State University - correspondence course
Platt College, Cerritos, CA


Hood College for Women, Frederick, MD (Applied Music)

Indiana State University - correspondence course (Other)

Platt College, Cerritos, CA (Other)


We asked Patricia to come in and help our son, a 5th grader, with his handwriting. All I can say is that the results were just amazing. Patricia taught our son how to cursive handwrite in just over 2 months! She’s incredible. Really. She pushed him but was not pushy and her demeanor was perfect. I would highly recommend Patricia to anyone who is seeking a professional to help with handwriting and

— Doug, Palos Verdes Peninsula, CA on 10/2/17

Hourly rate

Standard Hourly Rate: $50.00

Cancellation: 24 hours notice required

Travel to your home greater than 7.5 miles; SAT & ACT Test preparation; special needs tutoring are subject to negotiation. Music lessons: $38.00 for 30 minutes or $70 for 60 minutes.

Travel policy

PATRICIA will travel within 7 miles of San Pedro, CA 90732.