About The Academy & Staff
The Eugene Piano Academy opened its doors to twenty-four young children and their parents in the fall of 2011. From its beginning, the Academy has seamlessly combined traditional teaching methodology with the social and advanced learning support that comes from group classes. These peer groups make all the difference in creating an energetic, empathetic, and enthusiastic learning environment.
The Academy also serves as a vital part of the arts community, having hosted concerts for the Eugene Symphony, Oregon Mozart Players, and the University of Oregon. It has supported some of our community's invaluable non-profit organizations such as Well-Mama, MECCA, OSLP, and the HIV-Alliance, and has been a regular supporter of the visual arts with its involvement in the Lane Arts Council's First Friday Artwalks.
Beginning in 2016, the Academy partnered with Classic Pianos of Portland to further serve our community as, not only a place of learning but also as a trusted piano retailer.
Susane Davis, Director
In 2009, after completing her undergraduate studies in piano performance with Dr. Stephen Thomas, Susane entered the University of Oregon to pursue her master's degree in piano pedagogy. It was there, under the guidance of Dr. Claire Wachter, where her dream of providing the best method for beginning musicians, while instilling the love of music, was born. Over the next few years, with this mission in mind, she was able to further develop as an educator and pianist, filling her tool belt with skills and experience that proved invaluable when she went on to open the Academy in 2011.
It was also during this time that she was first introduced to the Harmony Road music method and soon thereafter knew that this was the only method that demonstrated both evidence-based curriculum and a thoughtfulness for the joy and art of the process of learning. It has proven to be one of the most complete beginning methods for all ages through its unique approach to engaging the ear. Through this method student's are able to simultaneously develop their reading skills while also encouraging their innate sense of creativity. Along with teaching the fundamentals of music, it is her my goal to foster the aspiring young pianist in their pursuit of technical mastery, lyrical touch, and knowledge of the vast repertoire written for the piano and the history behind it. Through this, Susane hopes that the Eugene Piano Academy will be able to fuel a lifetime of musical love and appreciation with time-tested quality instruction in a supported learning environment.
Jamie Yang, Instructor & Special Programs Coordinator
Jamie Yang has been playing piano since age 8 and has been actively involved in music and performing arts ever since. Jamie received her Bachelor’s of Science in Music and Arts Management from the University of Oregon in 2015, where she studied piano under the guidance of Dr. Dean Kramer, Dr. Claire Wachter, and Dr. David Riley. Miss Jamie has been a certified Harmony Road instructor since 2013 and had the opportunity to train with the Harmony Road Course founder, Jan Keyser.
At the heart of Jamie’s teaching philosophy is her belief that music is a vehicle for which students can, through proper instruction, channel and convey their creative thoughts and emotions. She helps facilitate this endeavor by providing a well-rounded approach to music education in a fun and relaxed environment. It is her hope that by teaching music, her students will, in turn, share the joy they’ve found with others.
Chris Misa, Instructor & Events Manager
Chris Misa began studying classical piano at eight years old leading to a passion for many genres of music. In 2007 he began performing jazz and improvised music professionally in addition to attending a conservatory-like arts high school. He attended DePaul University in Chicago studying jazz and classical piano, earning a BM in Composition in 2014. Since then he has earned a living teaching, composing, and working in restaurants.
Chris Misa firmly believes that music is an integral part of the multifaceted web which connects human beings. Understanding the intricacies of how different cultures have used this medium to communicate complex inner experiences enriches our lives and creates a stronger, better-connected society. In the classroom and in lessons he seeks to strengthen students understanding of whatever musical realities they are interested in and to introduce new tools and ideas pertinent to their passions.
Ali Jones, Instructor & Administrator
Ali Jones began playing piano at age 7, and developed a passion for teaching and performing music. In 2014, she received her Bachelor’s degree in Piano Performance from the University of Idaho, where she studied with Dr. Rajung Yang. She moved to Eugene to continue her studies at the University of Oregon and earned her master's degree in piano performance under the guidance of Dr. Dean Kramer and Dr. Claire Wachter.
Ali believes that music should be a central part of education and that playing the piano can enrich many areas of a person’s life. In her teaching, she strives to engage each student’s creativity, imagination, and self-expression, while building a strong foundation in technique, reading, and listening skills.
Rebecca Hutton, Instructor
Rebecca Hutton began playing the piano at age 6. In 2014, she received her Bachelor’s degree in piano performance from Abilene Christian University, where she studied with the late Dr. Paulineung Bjorem. Rebecca entered the University of Oregon to pursue her masters degree in piano pedagogy, and studied under Dr. Dean Kramer and Dr. Claire Wachter.
Rebecca believes that great artistry can be achieved in even the simplest pieces and that any student can perform artistically, no matter the level. It is her goal to guide students as they master the skills required to play the piano but more importantly, Rebecca hopes that they will find great joy and purpose in the music they create. Furthermore, Rebecca believes in nurturing each individual by helping them find their area of greatest potential in learning and music making.
Zaira Castillo, Instructor
Beginning her teaching from the young age of 15, Zaira has always felt great passion towards being able to provide her students with a strong musical education. Zaira is currently a fourth year undergraduate student at the University of Oregon, where she has studied under both Claire Wachter and Alexandre Dossin, as well as collaborative piano with David Riley. She hopes to pursue her masters degree with a focus in modern music performance and piano pedagogy.
Zaira indomitably believes that every student, regardless of age, educational, or ﬁnancial background, should experience the art of making music in their own unique way. Zaira also believes that music is an integral part of human experience and that through guidance and instruction, a student will be able to create and enrich their lives with the art of music. Zaira hopes to create a fun learning environment in which students feel comfortable expressing themselves and growing musically as well as establishing a well-founded base in note reading and technique.
Becca Stankis, Instructor
Becca Stankis has been cultivating her enjoyment of music since she was a youngster sitting beneath the piano bench listening to her siblings playing “Hot Cross Buns” and “Old MacDonald’s Farm.” She graduated from Pepperdine University with an undergraduate degree in Piano Performance and English Literature and, while there, discovered her affections for Russian music as well as Russian literary works. She is currently a student in the University of Oregon’s Graduate Music Program and enjoys it immensely.
Becca is fond of hiking, playing chess, traveling, and all things sweet. Her favorite moments as a teacher have been when her students experience the "light-bulb effect.” Phrases such as "I FINALLY get it!” or "Ohhhhh that makes so much sense!” enliven the enjoyment and delight that music offers.
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