As a piano teacher, I strive to offer the same things to my students that my wonderful music teachers offered me – AND MORE.
Music was a central part of my life from a young age. As a child, and throughout my university studies, I was fortunate enough to study under incredible virtuosos and prolific mentors. Make no mistake- not all musicians are good teachers – I was VERY lucky.
These teachers encouraged me to take every opportunity to find my strengths and accentuate them, and find my weaknesses and improve upon them.
In piano lessons, we work hard to fill up a tool box for each student with theory and technique and knowledge of styles and history. I also help point each student in the direction where they can apply the life skills they learn in lessons to their own interests and dreams . . . no matter where they end up in life.
In the small town I grew up in, a lot of homes had old pianos – the big heavy kind from the 1800’s – sitting in corner, broken keys covered in dust. Nobody seemed to actually know how to play them, yet they kept them in their homes anyway. They were mysterious to me, and the rare moment when a grownup allowed me to let my teeny fingers dance across the keys, I felt a strong connection to the instrument and the sounds coming out of it.
My first formal introduction to music began in public school, at age 5. I was fortunate enough to live in a town with a very strong music program, which began at the kindergarten level, with Kodaly/Orff general music classes. We sang, we danced, we played with rhythm instruments. Every time we had music class, I was happiest.
I began playing the viola through a program run by my elementary school in 4th grade. It was fun, and ultimately something that became a large focus in my life. But there was always that love for piano looming…
Finally, after much begging, I was gifted a toy: a 77 key, Casio keyboard. A John Thompson method book fell in my lap somewhere along the way, and I taught myself how to play for a little while, until someone in my family realized I should have some lessons and I was enrolled at age 11 at a local music studio.
At age 13, I switched to a more professional piano teacher who happened to be a neighbor that lived a few houses away. He introduced me to Chopin and at this point, I had grown out of the Casio keyboard. A spinet was purchased for our family’s formal living room – a Victorian styled room that people were rarely allowed to sit in, except for on very special occasions or when I practiced.
My piano lessons were always something I took very seriously (as much as you can as a teenager), and loved, but to the dismay of my devoted instructor, I was not the student who stayed inside and practiced for 6 hours a day. He had high expectations – he was strict and his training methods were straight out of Russia. His use of incredibly creative metaphors was weaved between lessons on technique and cursing in Russian at me. It was an intense time in my musical learning, and I was both thankful for him and fearful of him.
In addition to studying piano in my late teens, I participated as a violist and violinist in many performance groups, including sitting second chair in the Worcester Youth Symphony (WYSO), and as a pit musician in many amateur musical theatre productions.
I went on to study Music Composition at Chapman University, where I continued to hone my musical skills, studying piano and composition under the late Dr. Michael Martin, and viola under the highly respected Julliard Graduate, Mr. Robert Becker. I have always had a knack for multiple instruments, so I added cello, voice, and classical guitar to my list of instruments I am capable of!
College was when I was able to be a little more free to explore some of my other musical interests. I formed a band with some other musicians at my school, and got to play rhythm guitar, go into the recording studio, and even play at our Homecoming celebration at Chapman U.
The idea of being a piano teacher had never crossed my mind until well into college. From the moment I taught my first lesson in 2003 at Olympia Russian Conservatory in Fountain Valley, I realized I had found my true calling. I was appointed as piano, music theory, and strings teacher at the small Orange County music studio and my roster of students grew exponentially.
I graduated from Chapman in 2005 cum laude with a gray key award and continued teaching piano, violin, viola and even classical guitar. Not much later, I realized I could run the show myself, so I moved on to start Irvine Music Lessons.
Now that I had vocal experience, I also participated as an accompanist at Chapman University, Fullerton College, Fountain Valley High School, and for private voice teachers Stephanie Williams and Dr. Susan Ali.
Currently, I am teaching piano lessons in Long Beach.
I live in Alamitos Beach with my two little doggies, and I spend my free time hiking, practicing photography, going to concerts with friends, making my own hand poured candles, and volunteering in my community.