Welcome! This page will allow you to stay updated on my life as a passionate, piano-obsessed educator, artist, and traveler!
So whether you’re riding public transit and chanced upon me by accident, working through a stack of CVs in your office, or clicked an instagram or facebook link that landed you here, let’s get you a cup of coffee and get to know each other, shall we? [This is the personal conversation bit you won’t find in my bio.]
I grew up in southeast Alaska on a rainforest island. Most people think polar bears, igloos, and sled dogs when they hear I’m from Alaska…or alternatively, ask if I’ve seen that Bush people show, or if “I can see Russia from my house” [which really never gets old]. But my experience as a rugged little Alaskan child was different from the stereotypes – it’s an incredibly diverse state, after all!
The ocean and mountains were my front-window view as a child. The Tongass Narrows (the channel of water between my island and the next one) was busy with floatplanes taking off and landing, fishing tenders, seiners, and gillnetters coming into the harbor, and bald eagles and seagulls screeching as they fought over salmon carcasses. Xtra-Tuf boots and raingear were wardrobe essentials, with ~160 inches of precipitation annually. My early years were spent on the water [fishing, swimming, waterskiing], in the sky [my dad was a pilot], hiking, picking blueberries, camping, and building beach bonfires on our rocky coastline.
My mom taught high-schoolers piano lessons from our home, and by the age of 3 [in addition to dancing around the living room every time she played Scott Joplin’s Entertainer], I was crawling up onto the bench and begging her to teach me. She started working with me on a few fundamentals [2- and 3-black-key groups, basic rhythms, and technique], and I soaked it all up like a sunflower facing the light.
I continued to take lessons with my mom and perform in yearly recitals until I started junior high. I then began piano studies with a teacher who had more professional experience, Trina [Elliott] Purcell. At the local high school, Trina taught music and math classes as well as conducting choir. She challenged me with larger works than I had learned before, like Mozart sonatas, Bach preludes and fugues, and Mendelssohn character pieces. She also challenged me to think big. I was learning French at the time, and after a year of both lessons and language studies, we began having our lessons in French, to push me further. With Trina, I also started accompanying the high school choirs, and becoming involved with local jazz bands.
When Trina moved back to “the lower 48” [we do actually call it that] to finish her master’s degree, she arranged for me to take lessons with her former teacher, Christa Bruce-Kotrc. Christa had performed and taught around the world, in addition to being one of the greatest advocates for education in Alaska, and building an Alaska Music Teachers Association [a state branch of Music Teachers National Association]. With degrees from University of Colorado [Boulder], Lincoln College [Oxford, UK], and Middlebury College [Middlebury, VT], Christa pushed me harder than I’d ever worked before. I completed my senior recital in high school with her, and to this day, her spunk, wit, passion, and drive have added invaluable worth to my music education.
College degrees are available on my bio bio…but this is a sneak peek of where I came from.
Thanks for listening to a little of my story. I would love to hear yours – comment here, or send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like to share your musical journey!