LEON CHRISTIAN, School Director
Electric Guitar, Acoustic / Fingerstyle Guitar, Classical Guitar, Jazz Guitar, Electric Bass Guitar, Ukulele, Mandolin
Songwriting, Composition, Music Production & Recording, Improvisation, Music Theory, Youth Rock Band Coaching
Hailed as “an excellent guitarist” (David Brandon) and “very talented” (John Sutherland), Leon Christian is celebrated for charismatically and virtuosically bringing to life a broad repertoire of musical styles. Whether playing the earliest scores transcribed for the classical guitar or even the most contemporary progressive rock compositions on electric, his engaging performances entertain and delight audiences of all sizes and ages.
An accomplished classical guitarist, Leon regularly performs concerti with Northwest orchestras and in solo recitals. He was selected to be the first guitar soloist to perform with the Federal Way Symphony under Maestro A. Brian Davenport, performing Joaquín Rodrigo’s "Concierto de Aranjuez" in 2013. Leon also enjoys performing in jazz, blues, and rock styles. He has composed music for, produced, and performed in successful original rock bands that have headlined tours across the West Coast and the Pacific Northwest. Leon has also recorded and performed with Rock-and-Roll-Hall-of-Fame artists such as Sam Andrew of Big Brother and the Holding Company (Janis Joplin), Roger Fisher and Mike Derosier of Heart, and blues legend Jerry Miller (one of the top 100 guitarists of all time) of Moby Grape. As a studio recording session guitarist, his playing can be heard on independent films, TV commercials, and studio albums.
Leon’s musical studies started at age four on classical piano. Inspired by the Beatles, he switched to the guitar at age 12 and continued on to attend the University of Puget Sound as a classical guitar performance major. He studied with many international masters of the instrument, including Douglas Rice Jr., David Russell, David Brandon, and William Kanengiser. Leon was also among 24 guitarists selected from around the world to study in the prestigious international Christopher Parkening Master Class. Recognized by his peers, Leon was voted to be one of six guitarists to perform in the annual public recital, representing the Master Class with Mr. Parkening in attendance. This honor was bestowed upon Leon for three consecutive years and he remains a close friend of Parkening to this day.
Leon holds the position of Director of the Federal Way School of Music, guitar instructor and band director at Annie Wright Schools, and has taught guitar for over 25 years, maintaining a successful and high-demand private guitar studio in the Puget Sound area. A strong supporter of music education, he is actively involved in local school music programs, music outreach programs for underprivileged children, and leads masterclasses and music educational clinics in the Seattle-Tacoma area. Currently, Leon performs regularly in classical concerts and is guitarist, lead songwriter, and producer in his original progressive rock project. In his spare time Leon enjoys body building, riding motorcycles, psychology, horror films, literature, and chess.
Jean Balogh is a versatile flutist who performs in styles ranging from classical music to rock. As a student, she picked out heavy metal guitar solos by ear on her flute, inspired by popular flutists like Ian Anderson (from the progressive rock band Jethro Tull). She is equally influenced by classical performers including Jean Pierre Rampal, Emmanuel Pahud, and composer/performer Ian Clarke. She enjoys performing in chamber groups and flute ensembles and also explores various folk and ethnic playing styles including Celtic flute.
In addition to classical standards, Jean loves to incorporate popular music in her student's flute studies, including music from video games, anime, film scores, rock, metal, and pop. In her lessons, she inspires kids to be bold in the art of performing and in the process, improving their confidence. She also instills in every student that music is not only a passion, but that it also changes lives. Jean teaches in a creative, positive, and encouraging style and students can expect to have fun as well as work hard. She has the commitment that no student should ever feel that they can't achieve their goals. To facilitate those goals, lessons include solo as well as ensemble work, group lessons that include games like music symbol twister and scavenger hunts, workshops with other local artists, and ensemble performances at local places.
Jean started playing flute in grade school and in high school was selected for all-state band. She decided that music would be her lifelong passion and went on to receive her Bachelor of Arts in Music at Washington State University. Jean has over ten years experience as a private flute instructor and two additional years working with preschool, elementary, and junior-high-aged children. Throughout her career, Jean has prioritized giving back to her community. As the Education Program Assistant for the Federal Way Symphony, Jean helps facilitate programs to help give needy kids the opportunity to study music. Jean enjoys performing at local places including at her church, playing and singing with the worship band and choir, playing in pit orchestras in musicals, and sponsoring student-led flute ensembles at cafes and markets. Jean loves visiting nature, hiking, swimming, watching movies, and hanging out with her kids.
Violin, Viola, Cello (Suzuki & Traditional), Beginning PIano
Richard Dizney teaches beginning to intermediate students on cello, whether they are grade-school-aged kids, adults, or even retirees. In 2013, Richard joined Dizney Music Studio as a cello instructor. He believes that the key to success in music is first the understanding that music is a language and that the cello, or any other instrument, is a tool used to express that language; second, that it is never too late in life to start learning a new language like music, or to begin developing the skills needed to express this language. Lessons are directed with the following goals: building the student’s musicianship and technical skills on their instrument, building on the foundation set in earlier lessons, and guiding the student according to their musical goals. Richard encourages all students by saying "learning to play an instrument can be challenging, but it is also fun!"
Richard’s musical experiences started with tutelage from his mother, violinist Anita Dizney. He studied trombone in grade school, followed shortly by piano. He grew to love classical music by listening to the radio and recordings from the library and became a prolific composer during his teenage years. Richard discovered his love of playing the cello at the age of 19, which quickly joined the piano as one of his two favorite instruments in performance. He played in the Trinity Baptist Orchestra for six and a half years, where he also arranged and composed for the orchestra. Richard has performed with string quartets, various choirs, and toured the country with a men’s a capella group on a variety of stages ranging anywhere from churches to rooftops to opening senate sessions in capitol buildings.
Drum Set (Rock, Jazz, Latin), Snare Drum, Hand Drumming (Djembe, African Drums, Congas), Scottish Pipe Band Drumming
Jay Douglas is one of the Pacific Northwest’s performers, clinicians, and recording session musicians. He has played with Platinum hit single-producing acts and Rock-and-Roll Hall-of-Fame artists such as The Shirelles, The Platters, The Drifters, Roger Fisher of Heart, and many other internationally-renowned and local groups. Jay’s musical style encompasses everything from improvisational jazz, to classic and contemporary rock, metal, pop, funk, R&B, hip-hop, to Scottish drumming, concert band and orchestral percussion.
Starting to play drums at age eight, Jay was inspired by early R&B session drummers, playing along with recordings to learn on his own, until be began his formal studies playing percussion in band class throughout school. Jay went on to study at the Nashville Percussion Institute and has taken masterclasses with renowned artists such as Gerry Brown (Stanley Clarke, Stevie Wonder, George Benson, Lionel Ritchie), John Scullion (four-time World Solo Snare Drumming champion), among others.
Jay has been teaching drums in the greater Seattle area for over 30 years. In addition to the drums, Jay also has personally studied the bass guitar because he believes in always striving to be a complete musician. This philosophy is threaded throughout his teaching, where students not only learn how to be “drummers”, but learn to read music, understand rhythm and theory, learn a variety of musical styles, and learn how to be competent and strong members in any band or ensemble they perform in. This forms the basis of Jay’s comprehensive program, with which he has taught beginning students as young as age three, kids needing to fill gaps in their knowledge, to advanced college-bound students, to professionals looking for continuing artistic development.
Jay’s students have been in local and regional competitions and have been accepted to prominent music schools including Berklee College of Music, Yale University, and Cornish College of the Arts. He has also been active in many other music education endeavors, teaching masterclasses, group classes, and many popular regional summer camps.
Piano, Organ, Keyboard, Trombone, Euphonium (Baritone), Beginning-Intermediate Trumpet
Composition, Songwriting, Music Production & Recording, Film & Video Game Scoring, Improvisation, Music Theory, Jazz Studies
Willow Goodine has played music for over 30 years and is influenced heavily by jazz and improvisational music. Willow composes and arranges original music that has been played by professional orchestras including the Seattle Symphony and Seattle Rock Orchestra and also has movie credits on IMDb for scores he created, conducted, and produced professionally. He also orchestrates music for west coast theaters and various northwest orchestras.
Currently, Willow is keyboardist and songwriter in his original Seattle-based jazz/funk/groove fusion band, Swindler. Willow plays multiple keyboards in the group and has developed an arsenal of sonic weapons and keyboard wizardry and provides textural backdrops, menacing funky clav riffs, percussive organ, and punchy Rhodes. He also composes and arranges originals and mixes audio for the band. Swindler follows an extensive touring schedule across the West Coast, Canada, and Alaska and performs regularly in the Puget Sound area.
Starting with piano as his first instrument, Willow went on to study trombone in college and received his Bachelor of Music in Composition from the University of Maine in 2001 (Magna Cum Laude). He then continued to perform all over New England and Canada in pit bands, big bands, and also as a solo pianist. A Canadian native, Willow moved to Seattle in 2011 to pursue a music career and received his Master’s Degree in Film Scoring from the Pacific Northwest Film Scoring Program at the Seattle Film Institute. Willow also plays other brass instruments including euphonium (baritone), trumpet, and horn, and also plays organ, contemporary/jazz keyboards, mandolin, guitar, and has served as a vocal coach. Willow has taught private music lessons in his studio for the better part of 15 years. He is also the Director of the Portland Youth Rock Orchestra and Seattle-Tacoma's Pacific Youth Rock Orchestra, held at the Federal Way School of Music studio location.
When he is not practicing, teaching, listening to, or performing music, Willow enjoys traveling to new destinations, crosswords, cooking, music psychology, and coffee.
Electric Guitar, Acoustic Guitar, Electric Bass Guitar, 7-String & 8-String Guitar, Ukulele
Songwriting, Music Production & Recording
Josh Kain is a popular YouTube guitar personality with close to a million views as the internet sensation,"Mr. Panda", and under his own identity. He has been on three US tours and has been in a number of successful bands including "In All Honesty" and "Bella and the Blue Moons". From his body-building and martial-arts background, Josh always strives to perform at his peak and channels both mental and physical self-discipline to work toward lifelong excellence in all he does. He acts as a positive role model for kids and inspires all his students to do their very best. Josh loves all styles of music and believes that there are great musicians in all genres and styles that we can learn from.
Josh has been teaching for over seven years in private lessons and group classes and covers many different styles of music including rock, metal, progressive, neoclassical, blues, punk, pop, and more. He specializes in teaching students a diverse arsenal of techniques such a multi-finger tapping, sweep picking, slap and percussive guitar, pinch harmonics, and other advanced rock and metal techniques. He also teaches 7-string and 8-string guitar, electric bass, and ukulele. Building the student’s lesson curriculum directly around their learning needs and interests, Josh strives to help the student have fun while learning, to become comfortable with their instrument with proper techniques, and helps them work toward their goals. Josh does all this while sneaking in important and relevant concepts including music theory!
Inspired by artists like Steve Vai, Edward Van Halen, Andy McKee, and Mike Batio, Josh has developed an original style of guitar playing and musicianship. Josh also sings lead and backup vocals, plays electric bass for the metal band Bioplague, performed in jazz bands and choirs, played drums in drumline in school, and performs actively in church. Currently a solo artist and co-owner of Skye Rise Recording Studio, Josh is experienced in all stages of music production from pre-production sketches, mockups, and demos with Garageband up through final production and mixing with ProTools. Josh also composes and produces music to be licensed in tv shows, video games, commercials, and movies.
When he is not in the studio, Josh also enjoys body building, mixed martial arts, frisbee, video games, and building guitars.
Saxophone (Classical & Jazz), Clarinet, Beginning Flute
Music Theory, Improvisation, Jazz Studies
A recent graduate of the University of Puget Sound School of Music, Brady McCowan is an ambitious saxophonist and woodwind player. Specializing in sax and clarinet, he is a member of several groups in the Tacoma area, performing regularly in a broad range of styles ranging from classical, jazz, and funk to progressive rock, folk, and experimental. Brady was selected as one of three winners of the University’s 2015 Concerto Aria competition, and performed Russell Peck’s "The Upward Stream" with the Puget Sound Symphony Orchestra. A member of the Puget Sound Saxophone Quartet throughout his time in college, Brady has competed nationally in the MTNA competition. He has also been featured several times as a soloist with the Puget Sound Jazz Orchestra, and performed demanding repertoire with the Puget Sound Wind Ensemble as its first chair saxophonist.
Born in Washington, D.C., Brady lives in Tacoma, but has also lived in Silver Spring, MD and St. Paul, MN. Brady has participated in extensive private study under saxophonists Morgan Russell, Jeff King, and Fred Winkler, and the enjoyment and inspiration brought to him by his instructors has instilled in him a desire to teach. His experience studying under diverse musical disciplines lends him an acute sense of stylistic awareness in himself and other musicians. In particular, his devotion to jazz, alongside his focused study of classical performance in college, has allowed him to develop a comprehensive concept of appropriate tone production and performance techniques, which he has extrapolated into other genres. As an educator, Brady encourages creativity and originality in developing musicians by honing their strengths and intuitions and collaboratively setting goals.
Brady spends most of his energy on music, finding joy in learning new instruments and refining his abilities on each. He has also performed on flute, bass clarinet, and auxiliary percussion, and is currently learning trombone. He loves to spend time with friends, cooking, retro gaming, thrift shopping, and biking around Tacoma when he is not playing music.
Voice (Contemporary, Rock, Metal)
Songwriting, Music Production & Recording
Pamela Moore is a professional artist who has recorded on multi-platinum albums, toured extensively worldwide, and appeared on numerous music videos. She is best known for her role as "Sister Mary" in the progressive metal band Queensrÿche's platinum-selling album "Operation: Mindcrime". She is also a singer-songwriter and producer, mixing hard rock, pop, electronica, and in more recent years has delved into heavy metal music. Pamela's recently released solo album, "Resurrect Me", was acclaimed as one of the "Best Metal Albums of 2013" in numerous publications including Music Enthusiast Magazine, All About The Rock - UK, and Hair Metal Mansion. "Resurrect Me" is available now on iTunes and Amazon!
With this wealth of experience in the music industry, Pamela offers a unique insight to all aspects of the business, but especially voice training and stage performance. While living in New York, Pamela studied under the esteemed Ms. Guen Omeron. It was there Pamela learned a unique training approach using weights. This helped her immensely with strength and endurance as a singer and touring performer and she has adopted this method in teaching all her adult students whether they are amateur or professional. Pamela enjoys working one-on-one with novice or professional vocalists and customizes her lessons according to the individual's needs, focusing on improving vocal range, ear training, power, control, advanced techniques, and even songwriting skills. Her coaching style is relaxed and nurturing.
Pamela began singing and writing songs at a very young age and her passion has propelled her into one of the most respected female voices in the music industry today, being hailed as one of the "top 50 female voices in rock music today" (Classic Rock AOR Magazine) and called "a very gifted singer that moves the heart and soul" by Neil Schon of the band "Journey". She embraces the opportunity to give back what she has learned to a community who has supported her so generously. Pamela resides in Seattle and maintains an active international touring and recording schedule. Ms. Moore currently accepts students by audition only.
Fiddle, Russian-language & Ukrainian-language Music Lessons
Russian-trained professional violinist Irina Nikitina has performed a variety of musical styles around the world. She has toured extensively with symphonic orchestras in Europe, delighted audiences on cruise ships, and participated in many international music festivals. Irina is a vivid example of a musician who successfully combines active performing with fruitful work in the field of musical pedagogy.
Irina helps all types of students achieve their goals, whether the student wants to learn the violin for grade school orchestra, to prepare for a career in music college and beyond, or simply just to learn music as an enjoyable hobby. She teaches students to play in a variety of genres including classical, folk, fiddle, contemporary, Latin, tango, gypsy, country, and more. All music is important. She finds that teaching her students different styles of music keeps their interest and helps motivate them to practice and improve. Irina enjoys working with children, teens, and adults and bringing happiness by helping students succeed and develop a passion for music. Irina’s students have become professional musicians, have been accepted to various youth orchestras like the Bellevue Youth Symphony, and many successful young performers— for example, a trio of her students (4, 6, and 8 years old) performed at a wedding! Irina teaches her lessons fluently either in English or Russian/Ukrainian, based on student preference.
Irina began her violin studies in Ukraine at age six. She gave her first recital in the Donetsk music school at age 11 and competed in many violin competitions in her country. Irina started her progressional education by training at the Academy of Music, Theatre, & Fine Arts (formerly known as the G. Muzicescu Conservatory of Music) in the Republic of Moldova and achieved a Master’s of Music in Violin Performance from the Tchaikovsky National Music Academy of Ukraine. During her stay in Moldova, she worked as First Violin in the National Symphony Orchestra of “Teleradio – Moldova” and First Violin in National Opera and Ballet Theatre of the Republic of Moldova. In Europe, Irina continued working as an orchestral musician and teacher at performance schools and in masterclasses. Irina moved to the United States in 2015 and is highly organized, motivated, and driven to help students achieve their very best. Irina enjoys traveling, loves to spend time with friends, enjoys nature, attending concerts, reading, hiking, and swimming.
French Horn, Trumpet
Originally from Michigan, Carrie Rexroat is a highly-recorded artist, performer, and passionate teacher. Her playing can be heard on various motion picture, television, and video game scores, such as the recent major film Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials. She is also recorded on the albums Artifacts, Points of Departure, and Placebo: A New Musical. Carrie currently holds the position of Second Horn in both the Tacoma Symphony and South Dakota Symphony.
She has held previous positions in the Dearborn Symphony Orchestra, the Debut Symphony Orchestra, and most recently in the Sarajevska Filharmonija in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina for their 2015-16 season. Rexroat also toured China in 2011 with the University of Michigan Symphony Band and, while living in Los Angeles, regularly performed with the Hollywood Chamber Orchestra, Golden State Pops Orchestra, Santa Barbara Choral Society, and San Bernadino Symphony. Ms. Rexroat also received the Andrew J. Lum & David R. Julliet Young Artist Scholarship upon winning the 2009 Ann Arbor Concert Band Concerto Competition. Most notably, she and other members of The Cardinal Winds sextet were Semi-Finalists at the 2015 Fischoff Chamber Music Competition, Finalists at the 2015 Coleman Chamber Music Competition, and won Grand Prize at the 2015 Plowman Chamber Music Competition.
Teaching is a passion of Carrie’s, and if a student chooses to study with her, she personally guarantees that he or she will gain a newfound appreciation for what the world of music has to offer. Though she takes music and teaching very seriously, she too wants lessons to be a fun and rewarding experience for all parties involved! In Carrie’s lessons, she incorporates technical exercises such as scales, tonguing exercises, and long tones that will strengthen the student's ability to better move around their instruments and help them tackle music and the instrument with proficiency. She also uses cutting-edge technology including the spirometer to help students maximize their air flow performance. Her complete program also incorporates varied levels of music theory to better understand how music works. Ms. Rexroat always wants the best for her students, and it is her personal belief that every student has the capability to achieve something great!
“In addition to being a phenomenal musician, Carrie is one of those truly kind people who connects and teaches extremely well. She is a major reason why I am pursuing a music major at the University of Michigan.”- Patrick Walker, former student
“Carrie has always been a very passionate teacher and instructor, reaching all kids and abilities. Her enthusiasm is contagious, and she brings a smile to everyone that she works with.”- Jason Smith, Band Director at Ann Arbor Skyline High School
In her free time she enjoys being with friends and family, traveling, and has a four-year-old orange tabby cat named Milo. She also is the Founder of a successful storytelling blog /podcast, A’tudes & Brews, and enjoys connecting with people in one-on-one interviews over coffee. She received her Bachelor of Music in Horn Performance from the University of Michigan in 2013 under Adam Unsworth and Bryan Kennedy, and completed her Masters of Music in Horn Performance in 2015 from the University of Southern California under Dr. Kristy Morrell.
Piano, Keyboard, Clarinet
Composition, Songwriting, Music Production & Recording, Film & Video Game Scoring, Music Theory, Czech-language Music Lessons
Acclaimed as “creative, responsive, and highly professional” (Joseph Baum, director), Katya Soudek has a diverse musical background which allows her to expertly compose music in a variety of styles. Writing for both the concert stage and film, TV, and interactive media, her music is known for providing a strong dramatic narrative. Especially when paired with film, her music truly “compliments and draws out the emotions needed to make the scenes complete” (Wade Chitwood, director).
Katya is a classical pianist and has composed, orchestrated, and conducted symphonic pieces for ensembles such as a 50-piece orchestra, including members of the Seattle Symphony and Northwest Sinfonietta. She is also a keyboard and synthesizer aficionado, producing contemporary music in styles such as rock and electronic. Her experience with traditional classical repertoire, combined with extensive knowledge of film and video game music, and familiarity other contemporary styles gives Katya a skilled, unique, and modern approach not only in composition, but also in performance and in teaching.
Katya was born in the United States shortly after her parents immigrated from Czechoslovakia. Katya's earliest musical endeavors began with her playing video game and film score music by ear on a small keyboard. This led to her first formal musical studies with clarinet, an instrument which Katya would later perform on with groups such as the Tacoma Youth Symphony Organization. After discovering classical music and being inspired by composers such as Beethoven, Rachmaninoff, Gershwin, Bach, and John Williams, Katya began to study classical piano at age 12. In high school, Katya received honors in statewide competitions for piano was accepted to the Seattle Conservatory of Music pre-college academic program where she advanced her studies in piano and composition with renowned concert pianist Mark Salman. She went on to receive a Bachelor of Music Composition from the University of Washington and continued to the Pacific Northwest Film Scoring Program where she received a Master of Music in Film Scoring from two-time Emmy Award-winning film composer, Hummie Mann.
Currently, Katya produces music for film and video games and also performs as keyboardist, lead songwriter, and producer for her original progressive rock project. She has run a successful and growing private music lesson studio in the greater Seattle-Tacoma area for over 10 years. Some of her students have been accepted into prestigious schools ranging from Berklee College of Music to University of Washington. In her spare time, Katya is an avid gamer and collector of retro video games, is always following the latest technology and science news, enjoys nature and spending time with her dog, and maintains an active lifestyle.
Voice (Musical Theater, Traditional, Contemporary)
Sarah Tweet is an experienced, engaging and dynamic live and studio performer, songwriter, and long-time vocal coach with a strong background in rock, pop, jazz, and Americana styles. She is known for her powerful alto voice with a three-octave range and a beautiful tone that demands you stop and listen.
She believes that anyone can learn how to sing and that doing it well can be lots of fun. A healthy vocal technique can bring many years of joyful, heartfelt singing and as such, is a wise investment for anyone with an interest. Sarah helps singers develop tools for their “vocal tool box" that they can count on to be there to deliver the kind of performance that resonates with their audience.
Sarah grew up in the Pacific Northwest and her love for music was piqued early in life as she discovered her parent's record collection (ABBA, Johnny Cash, Elvis, and John Denver, were favorites). Beginning on piano at age seven, Sarah's love for singing developed in her early teens after her first experience on a microphone from behind the back-up keyboard on stage at church. Continuing to study music at Pierce College at the age of 16, Sarah was also a member of Farwest Jazz under the direction of Evin Lambert and Kelly Kunz (Groove for Thought). Her love for singing jazz strengthened as she traveled around the Northwest on a variety of tours and competitions with Farwest.
After college, Sarah invested five years studying voice and coaching with Jack Gorrecht at Garray Music Studios, an advocate of the Bel Canto vocal method. Entering a televised singing contest called Gimme the Mic that aired on King 5 in Seattle, Sarah made it to the top five as a finalist, which propelled her into more performing and writing. She wrote and recorded her first EP (Sarah Tweet - Studio EP) in 2006 and moved to Nashville, Tennessee to move her career forward and develop herself. While in Nashville, Sarah worked on a number studio projects (Barlow Girl, local artists).
Sarah is deeply passionate about philanthropic causes and is involved with The TEARS Foundation, an international nonprofit organization that helps grieving families honor the life of their child. She sings at their fundraising and Angel Monument unveilings across the country. Sarah is also a certified Music Together teacher, specializing in early-childhood music education. She has studied with a number of vocal and songwriting coaches including Erin Guinup, Evin Lambert, Jack Gorrecht, Barbie Anika and Judy Stakee. Sarah is also very involved in community theater with her three children.