Our Team

Our distinguished team members are highly skilled experts in their fields, master teachers, and compassionate and dedicated individuals. We boast a collaborative team that is multi-cultural and multi-lingual and are committed to fostering truly an exceptional environment for our students. Our team members go through a thorough interview process and extensive training period and report to each other in order to maintain the standards and ethics set by the school administration.

 

DIRECTOR 

Kristina Lee

GUEST INSTRUCTORS
Kerry Itami
Julio Jáuregui
Debby Boland Watt

KRISTINA LEE 

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.

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KERRY ITAMI 

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.

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JULIO JAUREGUI

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.

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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

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