"The art of teaching is the art of assisting discovery.”
— Mark Van Doren
YAMA TEACHING ARTISTS HAVE YEARS OF EXPERIENCE IN THE CLASSROOM AND ON THE CONCERT STAGE. EACH TA BRINGS A UNIQUE WAY OF CONNECTING WITH STUDENTS, TEACHING, AND CONTRIBUTING TO THE YAMA COMMUNITY.
Hailing from New York, YAMA Founding Director Stephanie Hsu is quietly falling in love with the Yakima Valley, the beautiful northwest, and her work here. Her inspiration and training prior to creating the YAMA program came from her time at the New England Conservatory's Sistema Fellows Program, launched by Maestro Jose Antonio Abreu's TED Prize Wish, and her subsequent travels in Venezuela.
Ms. Hsu received her B.A. with High Honors in Education, Sociology, and Anthropology from Swarthmore College and credits her work at CITYterm at the Masters School, Chinatown Youth Initiatives, and the Chester Children's Chorus with influencing her growth and path. During those moments in time when not involved in YAMA projects, Ms. Hsu can be found rehearsing and performing with her eclectic Latin music ensembleLa Cantina and in the viola section of the Yakima Symphony Orchestra, or hiking by summer / knitting by winter / wandering, wondering, and writing by fall and by spring.
Mr. Creswell is the Chair of the YAMA Governing Committee, Bass Teaching Artist, and Repertoire Advisor.
The founding music director of the Yakima Symphony Orchestra, and now Music Director Emeritus, Brooke Creswell retired in 2010 after a forty-two year career that saw the orchestra evolve from a community chamber orchestra of twelve players into a professional ensemble of sixty-five.
As a Teaching Artist at YAMA, Alex Pualani conducts, teaches all stringed instruments, arranges and composes music, develops curriculum and performs on any given day. Alex frequently performs with various groups in and around the Yakima and Ellensburg areas, maintains a large studio of students of all ages. Alex lives in Selah, Washington with his wife, son, daughter and two dogs, Abby. To learn more about Mr. Pualani, visit his website here.
Alex received his B.A. from Gonzaga University and his M.M. in Performance and Pedagogy from Central Washington University. His main teachers were Kevin Hekmatpanah, Minna Rose Chung and John Michel. He has received lessons from Hans Jorgen Jensen of Northwestern and Julia Lichten of the Manhattan School of Music during his time at the Meadowmount School of Music.
Jennifer Moultine is a teacher and performer living in Ellensburg, WA. Taking a rather winding path away from and back to Central Washington, Jen has studied music, performed throughout the northwest, been a baker, lived in the jungle of Ecuador, managed a crisis hotline in Olympia, WA, studied public health and writing at the Evergreen State College, worked as a music librarian, and been a stay-at-home mom, among other things. Mrs. Moultine has been a member of the Yakima Symphony Orchestra since 1999 and joined YAMA as a Teaching Artist in January 2014. She also plays baroque cello, performing regularly with the faculty of Central Washington University and other early music performers in the University's Musica Antiqua Series and around the Pacific Northwest. Mrs. Moultine enjoys hiking and hanging out with her husband and two kids when she is not making music with her YAMA family.
Jenny Humphrey is excited to be a part of the enthusiastic and versatile YAMA team. Starting her violin studies at age seven, her professional career includes teaching orchestral strings in the Tucson Unified School District; a decade of private violin instruction in Eugene, OR; and directing and serving on the Board of Directors for several traditional fiddle camps. In Tucson, she performed with the University Orchestra, and she has performed throughout the Northwest with her band, Kingdom County. Mrs. Humphrey received her B.A. in Music Education from Central Washington University, and loves gardening, stained glass making, and adventure.
Originally from Georgia, Sam Barge was drawn to Yakima by the vitality and love of music that YAMA espouses. He is thrilled to be a member of the talented and vibrant YAMA staff and community.
Mr. Barge recently complete his Bachelor of Music in Vocal Performance and Political Science from the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill. While a student, he started a music program at a primary school in Arusha, Tanzania, and established a non-profit to sustain its work.
From harmonizing with his mother and brother as a child, to directing college musical ensembles to writing a musical about Holocaust survivors, the sense of community and self-expression that music provides has always inspired him. It has lifted him up and given him an outlet to find his voice. He hopes to bring that love of musical artistry to his work with YAMA and beyond.
Kezia Hartman, violinist, lives in Ellensburg, Washington, where she is completing her BA in music performance at Central Washington University. She has also studied at the University of Idaho, where she was awarded numerous opportunities to perform in Honors Convocation. She loves finding unique performance opportunities, and has soloed with the University of Idaho Jazz Choir and Dancers Drummers Dreamers.
While living in Idaho, Kezia performed with the Washington-Idaho Symphony. She regularly performs with the Yakima Symphony Orchestra and the Wenatchee Valley Symphony Orchestra.
During the summer of 2016, Kezia performed with the Denver Philharmonic Orchestra on their 14-city, 28-day tour of China.
Kezia is inspired by seeing young people grow and thrive through music, and looks forward to achieving this while building her musical career. She has volunteered for the Greater Palouse Youth Orchestra as a sectionals coach and coordinator, and has served as a board member for the Auditorium Chamber Music Series. She recently toured the northwest with Dancers, Drummers, Dreamers, and cherished the opportunity to work and learn side by side with young musicians.
Kezia holds a goal of building a private studio and hopes to provide a musical outlet for motivated young people.
Kezia is married to double bassist Oliver Hartman and the two love collaborating through performance and teaching. In her spare time, Kezia enjoys exploring the outdoors and finding new places to hike, swim, and camp.
Oliver Hartman, double bassist, is a student at Central Washington University’s music program, where he intends to soon earn a Bachelor of Music. Oliver has been nominated to perform at several Honors Convocations at CWU. He previously earned an Associate of Arts and Sciences at Tacoma Community College. He has studied with Dr. Anna Jensen for several years, and will continue to for the rest of his stay at CWU.
Oliver has performed with many groups, including the Juneau Symphony and the Washington Idaho Symphony, with which he performed Koussevitzky’s Double Bass Concerto as a featured soloist, an honor he received as an award through its annual Young Artist Competition. He regularly performs with the Wenatchee Valley Symphony Orchestra and the Bellevue Ballet and Opera.
Oliver values the experience of teaching music highly in his professional career. Although he enjoys performing, nothing is more fulfilling to him than changing the lives of young students through music. He recently taught at the Evergreen Music Festival, where he was a double bass coach. He has also worked with music students at multiple high school programs, including Newport High School, Ellensburg High School, and Wenatchee High School.
Oliver plans to continue pursuing new opportunities in which his talents can be utilized for the youth population. He plans to build and grow his own private studio, and enjoys studying music pedagogy in order to most effectively serve his students. He also holds a strong interest in the field of music therapy, and regularly volunteers and works with Puget Sound Music Therapy in order to explore this outlet in his career.
Christine Lavik holds degrees in Elementary Education and Music Theory and composition from Pacific Lutheran University and Seattle Pacific University, and her Masters in Curriculum and Instruction. As a National Board Certified Teacher in Music Education, Mrs. Lavik has taught in the Lake Washington and Yakima School Districts, and has taught at Garfield Elementary (YAMA's host site) for seven years. Mrs. Lavik directs the choir program at YAMA.
Married to Philip Lavik, Chaplain at Living Care Retirement Center, Christine has three grown children and seven grandchildren. Her musical interests include: singing with PLU's Choir of the West; piano teaching; Jr. High and High School Church Choir Director; and Yakima Valley Opera Company. She currently teaches with the Yakima Children's Choir and performs with the Yakima Symphony Chorus. Her hobbies include reading, painting, and hiking.
As Operations Manager for YAMA, Sue Chirco-Coontz brings to the organization over 16 years of experience with the Yakima Symphony Orchestra where she worked as Ensembles in Schools coordinator, office administrator, customer relations manager, box office manager, volunteer coordinator, and personnel manager. In addition, she spent nearly a decade in the private school sector as a classroom assistant and school secretary.
As a classically-trained vocalist, Mrs. Chirco-Coontz is passionate about music and is thrilled to be a member of the YAMA team. She received a B.S. degree in Health/Religion from Weimar College with subsequent studies in Elementary Education from Pacific Union College and Walla Walla University. Throughout her high school and college years, and beyond, she dedicated much of her time to participating in a variety of solo, duet, trio, and choral works, including the role of Edith in Gilbert and Sullivan’s Pirates of Penzance.
Mrs. Chirco-Coontz enjoys spending time with her husband, Brian, and immersing herself in nature, especially the forest and mountains. Favorite activities include gardening, hiking, mowing the lawn, and studying maps.