Debby Boland Watt
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.
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 through the Suzuki method. At age 6 she entered the Strasbourg Conservatory Preparatory Division in Piano Performance and continued her musical training without interruption throughout her childhood, performing regularly in France and Germany and singing in many choirs. She earned 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. Laure came to the United States for the first time when she was 20, through an exchange program between Strasbourg University and Syracuse University and continued her studies as a Fulbright scholar at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, earning a Master in Piano Performance under the guidance of Professor Mack McCray.
She settled in Seattle in 2014, serving as the lead Teaching Assistant for the UW School of Music Secondary Piano program. During her studies with Dr. Robin McCabe, she won the University of Washington School of Music concerto competition performing the Chopin E minor concerto.
Most recently, Laure earned her Doctorate in Musical Arts in Piano Performance at the University of Washington in 2017. She wrote her dissertation on Marie Jaëll’s breakthrough research on hand’s physiology.
In the past decade, Laure has performed widely through Europe and in the United States as a soloist, chamber musician, keyboardist for the Strasbourg philharmonic 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. She played master classes for Ethery Jakeli, Awadagin Pratt, Pierre Goy, Jean-Yves Thibaudet, Garrick Ohlsson, Boris Berman and performed in major venues, such as: the International Festival of Contemporary Music MUSICA, the Cincinnati College Conservatory of Music Art of the Piano Summer Festival, the Zephyr International Chamber Music Festival in Italy or Meany Center for the Performing Arts. She collaborated with many chamber music colleagues at the piano, fortepiano and harpsichord and played for established ensembles, including among others the Strasbourg Philharmonic Orchestra, the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber Orchestra, the San Francisco Conservatory Baroque Orchestra, the Seattle Philharmonic Orchestra, and Inverted Space ensemble.
In parallel, Laure has been very involved as a music educator for the past ten years, teaching piano to all ages. Determined to bring music to everyone, she also created musical workshops for children with learning difficulties and from disadvantaged social backgrounds. She recently joined the teaching staff of Kristina Lee Music LLC, where she fosters a powerful culture of creativity and independent spirits in her students.
During her spare time, Laure enjoys the outdoors, running, biking and swimming, gardening, reading fiction and history books, travelling, cooking, art shows and following the English Premiere League and the NFL.
Julio Jáuregui is a highly acclaimed, multi-talented musician, composer, arranger, recording engineer and producer. Born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Julio grew up in Mexico City. Born to a pianist-teacher mother, his musical education began at age six focusing on the importance of rhythmic structures in a group format. He attended the National School of Music from 1984-1987 where he studied percussion with the National Symphony percussionist Julio Villegas and performed with the National Symphony Orchestra.
In 1990, Julio moved to Eugene, Oregon, and studied jazz piano with Gary Versace and jazz improvisation with saxophonist Steve Owen. Julio finished his bachelors in music with emphasis on ethnomusicology at the University of Oregon.
Julio has been a member or musical director of many types of ensembles (latin jazz, salsa, folk, funk, jazz), including Caliente, Sandunga, Combination to Go (with Santana’s drummer/percussionist Mingo Lewis), La Mayor, Atmosphere, and when moving to Seattle in 1997, Latin Expression, Matices, and Cambalache with Camilo Suarez.
In 2001 Julio joined forces with singer and long-time friend Carlos Cascante and formed Tumbao, a Latin sextet, and have produced multiple albums with them including “Recuerdos” and “Hablando en Serio”.
Julio is at the forefront of the Latin music scene in the Pacific Northwest, actively recording, mixing and producing Latin recordings. Some of his outstanding achievements include Ear Shot Jazz award for best recording of the year (2012), musical director for Seattle’s Century Ballroom “Musica Vitae” show and composing a song on a Grammy award CD for New York based Spanish Harlem Orchestra. In 2017 Julio was musical director of a show called “Soy Cuba” that sold out at Seattle’s Triple Door. Julio also teaches as a substitute for Jovino Santos Neto at Cornish School of Music School, leading his Latin Ensemble and rhythm class. Julio also teaches a Latin Jazz ensemble at the Night Jazz School in Seattle.
Father of two, loving husband and a faithful son, Julio is also a photographer and an aspiring chef and is the Arts Commissioner for Pierce County District 2.
DEBBY BOLAND WATT
A strong vocalist, improvisational performance artist and master teacher, her unique musical vision embraces classical, folk & spiritual, pop, jazz & free improvisation, a cappella circle singing, spoken word & poetics.
Debby has performed with Bobby McFerrin, Rhiannon, The Boston Pops, Tacoma Symphony Choir and Julian Priester to name a few. Under the tutelage of Meredith Monk’s Ensemble, Pauline Oliveros, Greta Matassa, Jay Clayton, Dee Daniels, Madeline Eastman, Nancy King, Rebecca Paris and Kurt Elling, her intuitive jazz and improvisational skills have flourished, making her an engaging musical treat for any audience.
Debby’s journey began in Chicago, eventually settling in Washington State where she started her classical vocal training at Western Washington State University. After several years she moved to California joining music groups that toured across the lower 48 and Alaska, Canada and Western Europe. For the next 30 years, she’s worked as a vocal performer, choral director, studio musician and teacher.
In 2010 Debby earned her Master of Fine Arts – Interdisciplinary Arts Degree from Goddard College studying Performance Art, Improvisation and Compositional Studies after having graduated Cum Laude in ’07 from Seattle’s Cornish College of the Arts in Vocal Jazz. Currently, in addition to working with us, she teaches creative approaches to Voice at area schools such at UW’s Experimental College, Dusty Strings Music School and Annie Wright School.
You may have enjoyed Ms. Watt at: Tulas, Egans, Faire Gallery, Jack Straw Studio, Good Shepherd Center, The Upstage, Fremont Abby, Soundbridge. Benaroya Hall, Ballard Homestead, SeaMonster, Sax on 6th, Maxwell’s, Solstice Cafe, Capital Hill Arts Center, Giraffe, Hugo House or Lucid Jazz Lounge.
“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
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.
Steven Damouni is an active performer of both contemporary and traditional repertoires. He holds a Bachelors of Music in Piano Performance and a Masters of Art in Music from Washington State University where he graduated Magna Cum Laude. Steven has performed in masterclass for many prominent teachers including: Nelita True, Doug Humphreys, Robert McDonald, Stephen Drury, and Jonathan Feldman among others. In the summer of 2015, he participated in New England Conservatory’s Summer Institute for Contemporary Performance Practice where he performed the Concord Sonata of Charles Ives in masterclasses and at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. He has won numerous regional and state competitions and is equally at ease as a chamber musician. He is currently pursuing a Doctorate of Musical Arts at the University of Washington where he is studying with Dr. Robin McCabe.
Steven has taught both class piano and private students at the University of Washington and Washington State University. He incorporates solfege and music theory into his teaching from early on. As an avid performer of contemporary music, he encourages students to study as many different types of music as possible.
Outside of music Steven spends many of his weekends hiking in the Cascades and the Olympic Mountains. In addition, he enjoys swimming, playing soccer and jogging at least once a week. He also cooks and eats flavorful foods as much as possible.