"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 Board of Directors, 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 and Site Director at YAMA, Alex Pualani conducts, teaches all stringed instruments, arranges and composes music, develops curriculum and performs (and more) on any given day. Alex is a member of the Mid-Columbia Symphony Orchestra and frequently performs with various groups in and around the Yakima and Ellensburg areas. He also maintains a large studio of students of all ages and teacher Band and Orchestra at CTCS.
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 was also a student of Hans Jorgen Jensen of Northwestern and Julia Lichten of the Manhattan School of Music during his time at the Meadowmount School of Music.
Alex lives in Selah, Washington with his wife, son, daughter and two dogs, Abby and Brahms. To learn more about Mr. Pualani, visit his website here.
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.
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.
A native of Washington State, Vanessa has established herself in the Pacific Northwest as a versatile orchestral musician, chamber player, soloist, and educator. She collaborates with orchestras across states, serving as Assistant Concertmaster of the Salem Symphony, first violinist with the Yakima Symphony, and regularly performing with groups including the Spokane Symphony, Auburn Symphony, Newport Symphony, and Vancouver Symphony. In 2014, Vanessa was invited to tour with the Fairbanks Symphony to South Korea for the Gumi International Music Festival.
As a soloist and chamber musician, Vanessa has been seen performing with Cascadia Music’s Pipestone Orchestra and is a frequent guest artist to Twisp Work’s Spartan Project (Twisp, WA) and the Washington Allegro Vivaci Ensemble (Bellingham, WA). She was featured soloist with Central Chamber Orchestra, as well as the recipient of the 2013 Achievement in Live Performance award for her performance of Vaughn William’s Lark Ascending. As violinist of the Mundana Trio, Vanessa toured to New York City, placing second at the National level of the Music Teachers National Association Competition.
As an educator, Vanessa is committed to sharing her passion and the discipline of musical practice through both her private studio and El Sistema inspired programs, working with both Portland’s BRAVO Orchestras and Yakima’s Yakima Music En Accion (YAMA). She is thrilled to be joining YAMA’s incredible team next year as a teaching artist.
Vanessa is a graduate of Central Washington University, her primary teachers have included Carrie Rehkopf-Michel and Denise Dillenbeck.
Joshua Gianola has been the principal percussionist of the Yakima Symphony Orchestra since 2013. An active free-lancer in the Northwest, Josh can regularly be seen on stage with the Oregon Symphony Orchestra, Vancouver Symphony, Newport Symphony, and many other fine groups.
Returning to Yakima Musica en Acción after two years living in Portland, OR, Josh brings with him a wealth of teaching experience ranging from beginning viola, to college-level ensemble coaching.
Josh holds a Masters in Music degree from Portland State University, and an undergraduate music degree from Central Washington University.