SCHOOL OF PIANO
Kristina was born in Korea, grew up in the United States and lived in Istanbul, Turkey and Beirut, Lebanon. Kristina is a musician, educator, entrepreneur, philanthropist, and world traveler.
Kristina started playing the piano at eight and from very early on, music opened a whole new world of imagination and possibilities for her. When she immigrated to the US at age twelve and started learning English for the first time, music became the medium that allowed Kristina to express herself beyond any language could. Kristina earned her Bachelors in Piano Performance at University of Washington in Seattle, Washington and Masters in Intercultural Studies at Fuller Seminary in Pasadena, California.
After finishing her masters’ degree, Kristina went off to explore the world and it took her to over 40 countries. During her time overseas, Kristina had opportunities to work with world leaders, founders of humanitarian organizations, and world-class-scholars as well as refugees, the homeless and victims of traumas. Music was not always the main work she did in the places she worked and lived in, but it was the unmistakable partner in all that she did, never failing to open doors and hearts of people.
When Kristina’s life took an unexpected turn, Kristina found herself having to relocate to the Seattle area and rebuild her life. That is how Kristina returned to teaching and she is forever grateful for the gift that teaching has been to her;
My ability to express and create music has allowed me to have immeasurably meaningful experiences in my life and I am forever grateful for the gift that music has been to me. Music is magic. And the opportunity I am given as a teacher to create that for my students’ lives is a privilege I do not hold lightly. Piano teachers hold one of those odd and rare places in our society. We do not only teach but we also mentor, help, listen, correct, empathize, encourage and inspire. Our relationship with a student can last anywhere from a few months to a few years to over a decade or more. Beside my love and passion for music, it is this transformative relational aspect of piano teaching that I value as much, if not more.
SCHOOL OF PIANO
French-born musician Laure Struber is a dynamic performer, compelling teacher and a music-activist and interpreter in her community.
The daughter of a jazz musician and an artist-painter, she grew up in Strasbourg and Paris and started the piano at the age of 3. At age 6 she joined the Strasbourg Conservatory preparatory division in ballet and piano performance. While she quickly quitted ballet (because she could not differentiate her left from her right), she continued piano without interruption throughout the years, performing regularly in Strasbourg and Germany and singing in numerous choirs. Although music had always been present in her life, she initially considered embracing a career as a detective, neurologist, pilot, mountain guide or a lawyer.
But as she was about to start a training to become an international reporter, she decided to embark on a career in music, concluding that music would cover the most infinite scope of knowledge and experience. She then went onto earn a Bachelor of Arts from Strasbourg University majoring in musicology and completed a Diploma of Musical Studies at the Strasbourg Conservatory of Music in piano, chamber music and music theory, with a minor in harpsichord and early music studies.
She came to the United States for the first time when she was 20, through an exchange program between Strasbourg and Syracuse and continued her studies as a Fulbright scholar at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, earning a Mater in Piano Performance under the guidance of Professor Mack McCray.
Not yet 30 years old, Laure has performed widely through Europe and in the United States as a soloist, chamber musician and keyboardist for the Strasbourg Philharmonic Orchestra and has been the recipient of numerous awards including a France-Fulbright Alumni distinction, a Marina Grin award for “Fine pianism and selfless contribution to the musical world” and a Soroptimist prize. Most recently, she won the University of Washington School of Music concerto competition performing the Chopin E minor concerto.
Laure has been very involved as a music educator for the past ten years, teaching piano and solfège to all ages. Determined to bring music to everyone, she also created musical workshops for children with learning difficulties and from disadvantaged social backgrounds. Laure believes in a creative pedagogy that adapts to everyone in order to help the student find his or her own musical voice.
Currently a doctoral candidate in piano performance at the University of Washington where she studies with Dr. Robin McCabe, Laure serves as the lead Secondary Piano teaching assistant at the UW School of Music where she teaches group and private lessons. With a keen interest in literature, philosophy and social history, she is writing her dissertation on the manifestations of the Romantic Irony in the works of Robert Schumann.
During her spare time, Laure enjoys the outdoors regardless of the weather. She particularly likes hiking, swimming, walking or riding her bike to explore new paths in the city, discovering new sights and savors, reading, cooking, watching the English Premiere League, and being with her friends.
A retired music professor, Nile has taught, conducted, traveled and performed with school, church, and community musical groups. He currently resides in Seattle, Washington, where he teaches voice and piano. For seven years he was an instructor in the Music Together Programs at the Music Center of the Northwest and at the Seattle Hebrew Academy.
Nile holds a Bachelor of Music degree from Coe College in Iowa and both the Master of Arts and Doctor of Musical Arts from Stanford University. As a Fulbright Scholar in 1970-72, he earned a performance diploma from the Universität für Musik und darstellende Kunst in Vienna, Austria.
Beverly Huo was born in Seattle, WA and grew up in a vibrantly musical family. Every holiday in living memory included some form of joyful family music-making: her mother’s side of the family, all from the Philippines, would sing exuberantly while an aunt and uncle played guitar, her grandfather played bandoria, and her father (a South Carolina born & bred country musician) accompanied on dobro, guitar, banjo, or mandolin. It wasn’t long before she picked up an instrument herself, and began her violin training at age 10.
Beverly’s career as a music educator began at the tender age of 15 when she started teaching private violin lessons while being mentored by her own teacher. Beverly’s studio grew quickly and it didn’t take her long to realize that teaching music would be her life’s passion and calling.
She graduated from the Eastman School of Music in 2009 with her Bachelors of Music in Music Education, as well as a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature from the University of Rochester. While at Eastman, she studied with Mikhail Kopelman, former first violinist of the Tokyo String Quartet, performed in the Eastman School Symphony Orchestra, gave annual solo recitals, and taught in local elementary, middle, and high school orchestras in and around Rochester, NY.
As an educator and early childhood music specialist she completed the highest level of Orff Schulwerk training available and also received extensive training in both Kodály and Dalcroze teaching methodologies. Most recently, she has been pursuing her graduate certificate in Suzuki Violin Pedagogy from the Lamont School of Music.
In 2015, Beverly became a Music Together teacher and we are truly pleased to have her as part of our Music Together team.
When Beverly is not teaching or playing with Seattle Philharmonic Orchestra in Benaroya Hall or the Puget Sound Symphony Orchestra at Town Hall, she can be seen practicing yoga, going on walks in nature, reading voraciously and spending quality time with family and friends.
KERRY ITAMI (School of Piano & Music Technology Specialist)
Kerry Itami has taught music in Hong Kong, Oregon, Florida, and Washington State for over fifteen years in both private and studio settings. She earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Music at the University of Oregon, focusing on piano performance, music technology, and composition. To enhance the quality of her teaching, she continued her education with post baccalaureate study in psychology and philosophy at the University of North Florida.
While providing a fun, well-rounded music education to students she also creates opportunities for students to broaden their musical journey through participating in international music exams including the highly regarded Associated Board of the Royal School of Music (ABRSM) piano exam.
When Kerry is not teaching, you can often find her in her home studio, working on her beautiful paintings and art pieces.
We are pleased to have Kerry join us as a Guest Instructor and Music Technology Specialist, enriching our program with her expertise in teaching composition, music technology and exam preparation.
DEBBY BOLAND WATT (Vocals & Circle Singing)
Debby Boland Watt is a powerful vocalist, improvisational performance artist and a master teacher. As the Seattle Times observed, Debby is fast becoming the area’s best-known facilitator for Improvisational Voice & Circle Singing.
Born in Chicago, in addition to earning her Master of Fine Arts in Improvisation and Composition at Goddard College and Bachelor of Music in Vocal Jazz from Seattle’s Cornish College, Debby has studied with Bobby McFerrin, Pauline Oliveros, Meredith Monk’s Ensemble, Kurt Elling, Greta Matassa & Jay Clayton.
As a performer, studio musician and choral director, she has toured across the US/Alaska, Canada and Western Europe.
Currently, Debby teaches in numerous studios in the greater Seattle area and performs regularly with her Northwest’s premier, A Cappella Vocal-Improv Trio called Medicine Truck.
She specializes in teaching Vocal techniques that support: Jazz, Improvisation & Spontaneous Composition, Pop, Folk, Spirituals & Blues, A cappella Voice & Spoken Word.
“Debby may quite possibly be the female Bobby McFerrin of Seattle! Her singing is reminiscent of Jay Clayton, Bobby McFerrin and other true pioneers of vocal improvisation and singing. Debby is a full meal deal vocalist and unafraid to explore her instrument…in Jazz and beyond.” -J.R. (Industrial Revelation), Seattle, WA