Faculty Highlights: Chris Vincent (Music Center Chorale)


As choir director at the Music Center of the Northwest, I am not a music teacher in the traditional sense; I do not teach regular music lessons. I do, however, have many opportunities to help our students learn important aspects of musical performance. I help our choristers better understand choral singing, and singing in general. Every chorale rehearsal includes lessons in more efficient choral and vocal technique, context and background of choral literature, and expressing the meaningfulness of vocal lyrics.

I like to think that all of the students I work with can benefit from my experience. Making music brings me great joy and gives more meaning to life. I want show our students the way to the same joy and meaningfulness.

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Faculty Highlights: Jenifer U (piano)


Jenifer U is a Seattle-based performer and educator. With over two decades of experience, Jenifer strives to create a fun and educational atmosphere with high expectations for students of all musical capabilities. Her teaching focuses on cultivating a life-time love of music, while motivating each student to bring out their musical excellence.

Jenifer’s piano students are regularly selected to perform at the Music Center Honors Recitals and are frequently awarded “superior plus” ratings at the National Guild of Piano Teacher’s auditions.

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Faculty Highlights: Naomi Tran (cello)


In her own words:

"With cello lessons, I seek to help students enjoy music as they gain more technical and musical understanding. I want to support students at whatever age or ability in their own goals and interests in music. My focus is on helping students to love playing music wherever they are at, and to encourage them to take ownership of their own pursuit, so that it can grow into a more long-term passion, regardless of whether they choose to enter the profession."

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Faculty Highlights: Regina Thomas (Voice)


In her own words:

“I teach because it gives me great joy to help a student explore and expand students' musical knowledge and ability.

I teach the art of singing and all that goes with it, including:

  • Vocal technique (breath support and placement)

  • Understanding and expressing musical style(Musical Theater, Jazz, Opera, Classical Song, Folk)

  • Stagecraft and character study

  • Movement

  • Ear-training

Students not only learn how to sing, but they learn how to present themselves in front of people, appreciation of different styles of music, greater confidence and poise. They also experience the deep satisfaction of having achieved goals through study, practice and hard work.”

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Faculty Highlights: George Steward (Traditional and Suzuki trumpet)


In his own words:

“When I work with students, I especially enjoy seeing them discover the excitement of learning new skills and making music. Seeing children, and adults grow in confidence is my highest goal. I’m a teacher, not a critic. My job is not to correctly identify what students are doing wrong; rather, it is to guide them into solid playing and performing in ways that grow their confidence.

I received my Suzuki training and became the first Suzuki trumpet teacher in the United States in 2016. I had no way of knowing how much I would love working with young children. I find working alongside parents to build a love of music at an early age to be extremely rewarding. It’s wonderful to help build a lifelong love of music, as well as solid approaches to building new skills. I also love helping students find ways to meet challenges with a positive attitude. It means so much to help them see that, when faced with new challenges, they can meet them and have good ideas on how to proceed.”

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Faculty Highlights: Jennifer Sheridan (Suzuki & traditional violin)


In her own words:

“Creating a music community and educating young people to express themselves through music participation and performance has been my life’s work. I specialize in both individual and group string instruction using a combination of Suzuki and traditional teaching techniques. I am committed to making music a collaborative experience and creating an environment for each individual student to evolve through music making. I am very excited to be part of the Suzuki Academy of Music Center of the Northwest teaching violin to all ages and abilities.”

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Faculty Highlights: David Shere (Guitar, theory, composition, Jazz combos, piano)


In his own words:

“Music Center of the Northwest is a self-determining, supportive, open environment where, no matter what your musical interest is, you can find an outlet for it. I teach here because I have been able to build my own jazz, rock, and guitar program from scratch (in collaboration with our previous executive director Michael Alstad) and I have had a blast doing it. I would also like to thank our current executive director Chas Arnold for continuing to support my vision.

Guitar is my main instrument (electric and acoustic, classical and pop); my studio includes electric bass, beginner and intermediate level piano, and beginning drum kit. I also teach jazz and rock ensembles, jazz and classical music theory, basic audio engineering, and have a Ph.D. in music composition.”

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Faculty Highlights: Nathaniel Schleimer


In his own words:

“There is nothing like the sound of a musical ensemble. The feelings that can be evoked from the melodies and harmonies emanating from a well prepared group of musicians are beyond words. The process of preparing music for performance is so uplifting from the perspectives of the ensemble members and conductor. This is why I feel so fortunate to be the director of the Swing Machine and Sax Ensemble at Music Center of the Northwest.”

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Faculty Highlights: Doug Reid


Doug Reid, Chair of the Music Department at Shoreline Community College, is well known as an educator, clinician and performer throughout the Northwest. Under Reid’s leadership, the Shoreline Community College music program has received widespread recognition including invitations to perform at the Washington Music Educators Convention, the North American Saxophone Alliance, and the North Texas Invitational Jazz Festival. Professor Reid is a graduate of North Texas State University and has guest conducted honor groups in California, Washington, Oregon and Victoria, BC.

Faculty Highlights: Grant Reed (Trombone/Low Brass)


In his own words:

"Music is one of the most indescribably powerful and moving things in the entire world, and above all, I wish for students to simply enjoy playing and experiencing this wonderful gift. The trombone is merely a means to an end in this regard; yet its rich, powerful, and versatile sound is what particularly draws me to it. My fundamental approach to playing is simple: producing the best sound on every note, as easily as possible. I think it is necessary to have the greatest sound that you can possibly make on the trombone in one’s head from the very beginning, and to this end, I strive to play as much as possible for and along with students so that they may develop their own ideal sound concept. I, of course, couple this with instruction on all of the other fundamentals of trombone playing and music making such as scales, rhythms, playing in tune, proper breathing, etc. But never forget that the goal is to play music with and for others, and that making a statement with the music we play, in a way expressing our deepest emotions, is what this is truly about!"

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Faculty Highlights: Tara Neill (Music Together)


Tara is thrilled to be joining the team at Music Center to offer Music Together® classes. Tara graduated from Seattle Pacific University in 2013, with a Bachelor’s degree in Music Therapy. She completed her clinical internship at The Center for Discovery in Harris, New York, a national specialty center for children and adults with significant disabilities, medical complexities and autism spectrum disorders. Here she specialized in improvisational music therapy. After returning to the PNW and becoming a board certified music therapist, Tara began working with individuals in a variety of settings, including: children and adults in medical settings, older adults, and children and adults with disabilities.

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Faculty Highlights: Aaron Nation (Suzuki & traditional cello)

Aaron Nation.jpeg

Aaron began his musical life on the violin at a young age, switching to cello during high school with a year of study with Richard Aaron. In the years since, he has performed in a variety of settings, from musicals and ballets, to chamber and orchestral music, as well as with rock bands. In 2005 he took his first Suzuki teacher training in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and teaching music has been a part of his life ever since.

In 2012, Aaron graduated magna cum laude from Seattle University with degrees in both psychology and music. Not surprisingly, he takes as much interest in the ways that music can help develop a whole person as he does in the music itself. This said, when you dive into the world of music, you find one of the most incredibly enriching environments available for helping people, both children and adults, live life to their fullest satisfaction. 

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Faculty Highlights: Robert Murphy


In his own words:

“Music is a wonderful gift that has shaped my life in beautiful ways. The Suzuki philosophy seeks to develop beautiful human beings through the study of music, and I take great pleasure in teaching Suzuki violin at the Suzuki Academy at Music Center of the Northwest."

More about Robert:
Mr. Murphy, a McNair Fellow, began violin studies in his hometown of Columbia, SC. He received his Bachelor of Music in performance from Youngstown State University and a Masters of Music in violin pedagogy and performance from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. He studied violin with Myron Kartman, Bernard Zinck, Katherine Rapaport, and string pedagogy with Darcey Drexler and Mimi Zweig. He has played in masterclasses for Jamie Laredo, the Cleveland Duo, and Robert Hanford.

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Faculty Highlights: Leslie McMichael


Harpist Leslie McMichael feels lucky to be doing what she loves for a living. She has taught harp at Music Center since 2010 and strongly supports the school’s core belief in the transformative power of music. Leslie joined the Seattle Symphony as a Teaching Artist in 2015 and also includes performance, teaching, recording, and composition in her musical pursuits. Leslie’s versatility takes her from touring with silent film performances to playing for local weddings. A graduate of Wellesley College, Leslie has pursued Suzuki Method training with Mary Kay Waddington at the American Suzuki Institute in Stevens Point, Wisconsin, and now directs a thriving Suzuki harp program in the greater Seattle area.

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Faculty Highlights: Les Martin (Suzuki piano)


In his own words:

“It is my great pleasure to teach piano in the Suzuki Academy at Music Center of the Northwest. As one who has embraced the Suzuki philosophy, my first priority is not to develop professional musicians, but to nurture loving human beings and to help develop each child’s character through the study of music.  When we nurture a child and help them to develop a beautiful heart, the music they make will flow from that heart and spread that same beauty in our world.

Teaching and creating music could not be more gratifying or personally invigorating. Music-making calls upon our imagination and creativity; our spontaneity; our fine-motor skill; our sequential memory; our creative problem-solving abilities; our sense of spatial awareness – as well as our own self-awareness – as we actively listen and discern ‘in real time’ to bring music to life.”

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Faculty Highlights: Steven Luksan (Traditional and Suzuki Piano)


In his own words:

"My goal is to inspire students to become lifelong musical learners and to encourage each student’s curiosity so that he or she becomes a well-rounded musician in addition to being a skilled pianist. The study of music can teach us many valuable things, such as how be self-disciplined, how to be part of a team, and how to get in touch with our own creative side. These benefits of studying music are made richer and more meaningful by discovering the context of the music we create, by listening to others perform music, by learning music history and theory, by learning about music composition, and by learning how to play music in an ensemble."

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Faculty Highlights: Cassie Lear (Flute)


In her own words:

"My teaching focuses on creating an environment tailored to every student’s individual needs by working with them to identify and achieve goals. Playing music is a joy on its own, but also reinforces skills such as nonverbal communication, anticipating problems, and practical problem solving. Music students also learn the value of practicing consistently instead of cramming at the end – flute is one thing you cannot possibly succeed at by last-minute practice! I love teaching music and appreciate the moments when a student succeeds at a hard passage they’ve struggled with, when they feel that they’ve given a meaningful performance, and when they can look back on all they’ve learned and feel proud of their hard work."

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Faculty Highlights: Shiho Kurauchi


In her own words:

“I teach a traditional Japanese 13-string instrument called the Koto at Music Center. I enjoy teaching as Music Center because there is a wide range of music classes, and the organization is committed to its mission to engage with the community. In my lessons, I try to create a positive learning environment to encourage my students to enjoy studying and practicing music. This approach is especially effective with children.

In the past I have taught at a middle school located in Japan, as well as at Nikkei Manor in Seattle. I also have taught my own private classes. In addition to classes and lessons, I have done demonstrations and performances of Koto at several preK-12 public and private schools in the Seattle area, as well as at public libraries.”

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Faculty Highlights: Nina Kemel (Piano)


Nina Kemel, a native of St. Petersburg, Russia, has devoted her entire career to teaching and nurturing pianists of all ages and levels. Ms. Kemel holds Bachelor and Master of Arts degrees in Piano Performance from one the most legendary music schools in Europe, the Rimsky-Korsakov Conservatory of Music in St. Petersburg, Russia. After completing her studies, Ms. Kemel launched an impressive career as a pedagogue, having taught at the St. Petersburg Conservatory of Music, as well as at two prestigious conservatories in Israel, one of them being the famed Tel-Aviv Conservatory. A resident of Seattle for over 20 years since her international teaching career, Ms. Kemel has been a private instructor and coach in many music schools in the Seattle greater area and has always been admired and cherished by all her students as both a warm and encouraging teacher of the highest quality. Having taught students in three countries, many of her students have been extremely successful in their pianistic careers, having been awarded numerous prestigious prizes, awards, and scholarships.

Faculty Highlights: Yvonne Hoar (Piano, Theory, Composition)


Yvonne Hoar graduated from University of Idaho with degrees in Elementary Education and Music (Organ Performance) with composition as a minor. She holds organ performance certifications from Italy including Vacanza con la Musica Antica (Mentione di Merito) and Corso di Organo degli Incontri Musicale. Yvonne has performed and accompanied on both piano and organ for many years in the northwest/northeast United States and Italy. She has held many organist/music positions in churches for nearly 30 years and is presently at Sand Point Methodist church. Yvonne is an active composer and has written music for instrumental solos including piano, organ, trombone; duets for piano/voice, piano/trombone, organ/recorder, organ/English horn, organ/congregational singing and various chamber groups ranging from string quartet, woodwind quintet to a nonet for mixed winds, strings and piano.

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