I'm a lifelong, award-winning pianist, classroom teacher, Adjunct Professor, self-taught DJ, and runner. How did this happen? A spark of curiosity, a nurturing family, and the dedication to improve. I gravitated towards the piano at age 3, and began formal lessons at age 6, starting with Yamaha group lessons. However, I only became passionate about the piano at age 16, when I willingly quit lessons for 3 months to free myself from the obligations of practicing. Does that resonate with anyone? In that time off, I embraced my new freedom but taught myself pieces I finally wanted to learn, struggled, and then begged my parents to sign me back up for lessons. And with that, a curious and more serious mindset was born.
I went on to earn a Master of Fine Arts and Bachelor of Music in Piano Performance, minor in Biology, and certificate in Ethnomusicology from the University of California at Irvine, graduating Phi Beta Kappa cum laude and as a Leo Freedman Scholar. It was here that I gained experience accompanying the UCI Chamber Singers and University Choirs, something very scary since I'd never done that before. Another curiosity spark in seeing what pianistic skills can do. In 2006, I had the opportunity to join Video Games Live in performing a symphonic concert series in Asia, Canada, Europe, and the United States. Going from a practice room of 1 to a crowd of thousands was a blast!
My former teachers have shaped me to where I am today: Lorna Griffitt, Myong Joo-Lee, Ory Shihor, Valentina Gottlieb, Scott McBride Smith, and Marilyn Shields. I am grateful for their expertise, encouragement, and for showing me what quality over mediocrity means. They helped me capture First Prize at the Southern California Junior Bach Complete Works Audition, earning the Yvonne Gordon Gold Medal, the SYMF Open Chopin (my favorite composer), the CAPMT Bartók State Finals, and being a finalist in the UCI Concerto Competition, among others.
But music goes beyond the awards, for me I cherish the mindset for success, however one defines it. I'm active in the community, serving on Board of Directors for my local MTAC branch, evaluating for the Certificate of Merit exams, and organizing student recitals. I currently teach at Citrus College and the Orange County School of the Arts. So, my students come from all walks of life. Some have received awards in competitions and were invited to perform at Carnegie Hall. Others feel a sense of joy performing for their school talent show. Another student whom I taught briefly ended up winning America's Got Talent in 2019. But no matter what, I hope I can spark curiosity for learning, improvement, and creativity.
I recently had an article published in the California Music Teacher's Journal, relating music and running. I've been an Ambassador for the Global Energy Race, a 5K/10K race held worldwide every fall, and am a current RADrabbit athlete for rabbit apparel.
10 Mile Race
Music video for OCMD
Student Summer Recital
Final Fantasy debut in Houston, TX
Performing at Comicon for Tokyopop
Meet and Greet in Taipei, 2009
students after recital
With Conrad Tao, 2015
Signing flyers at ComicCon
Menahem Pressler at UCI