Meet the Faculty

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"Learning music is a two-way relationship in which both student and teacher are invested in an activity that mirrors life and enhances it to the highest degree. At its best, it's transcendental. Being able to share that energy with people of all ages and experiences is one of the most rewarding parts of my life. My students are all unique individuals, and I love tapping into the self-discovery process they go through to learn. Sitting side-by-side at the piano each week is like a little microcosm of life itself.

That is a beautiful thing."

Director Gretchen Sterling

Piano Pedagogy

Ms. Gretchen Sterling studied at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama in Cardiff, Wales, and was one of the youngest students ever accepted into the undergraduate program, auditioning at age 15. She went on to complete her Master's in piano performance from the London College of Music and began her teaching career in the States in 2008, building a reputation for her innovative methods in teaching piano technique. Gretchen studied with prominent artists such as Vivien Harvey Slater, Fazliddin Husanov, Michael Schreider, Bernard Roberts, Boris Berman, Martin Jones, Irina Osipova, Julian Jacobson, and Robert Sholl. Having worked closely with these artists allowed Gretchen to experience a unique tradition in Classical training that can directly be traced back to Beethoven and Russian composer, Nikolai Medtner. 

Gretchen has performed in Wales, England, Germany, India, and along the US East Coast. She has been recorded for WCNY radio, TV, and received prizes for her performances of Beethoven, Mozart, and Chopin. She is also an avid improviser and has been known to spontaneously compose complex, genre-bending works on the spot. Her interest in music's effects on the brain led her to complete professional studies on Music and the Brain through Berklee College of Music, and additionally, she holds certificates in audio engineering and electronic music production.

Gretchen's creativity, inner drive, and curiosity influence her teaching style and artistic vision. Her unusual, eclectic background and interest in many styles of music and other subjects make her a versatile teacher for students looking to shake up their mundane piano lesson experience. Her dedication to empathizing with each individual student and ability to fuse humor with a strong work ethic has resulted in a long-standing rapport with students of many ages/backgrounds. Gretchen is a much in-demand teacher in the DC area and maintains a fierce loyalty to those that learn with her.

For more information and to hear some of Gretchen's original music, visit her Website

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Prof. Bo-Kyung Hwang

Piano Pedagogy

Born in Seoul, South Korean pianist Bo-Kyung Hwang has performed internationally as a soloist and chamber musician. Ms. Bo-Kyung made her professional concerto debut in 2002, performing Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No.1 with the Seoul Royal Symphony Orchestra, and in 2004, she made her solo recital debut at The Mozart Hall in Seoul. Recent performances have taken Ms. Bo-Kyung to many of the world’s most prestigious concert venues in cities such as Naples, Amalfi Coast, Salzburg, London, Wisconsin, Chicago, New York, Arizona, Michigan, Washington D.C, Maryland, Virginia, Maine, and Florida.

 

Ms. Bo-Kyung has won numerous awards including the first prize at the 32nd International Young Artist Piano Competition and premiered Kaleidoscope by Li-Ly Chang at Kennedy Center, Washington, D.C. Ms. Bo-Kyung is also a prize recipient of the Pauline Favin Memorial Award in Solo Piano and the Clara Ascherfeld Award in Accompanying and from Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University. She was also received a full-tuition Collaborative fellowship from Bowdoin Festival. As a soloist, she has performed in many master classes for Aldo Ciccolini, Richard Goode, Ian Hobson, John Perry, Elizabeth Pridonoff, Jin Woo Jung, Leon Fleisher. As a chamber musician, she has performed in master classes for Garrick Ohlsson, Steven Isserlis, Gidon Kremer’s Kremerata Baltica Chamber Orchestra.

Ms. Bo-Kyung received the Bachelor of Music Degree in Piano Performance from Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University under renowned pianist and professor, Yong Hi Moon. She received her Masters Degree in Piano Performance from Northwestern University. Attending Northwestern University on a full-tuition scholarship, she studied under the guidance of Steinway artist and Professor, Alan Chow. Ms. Bo-Kyung is currently pursuing a Doctor of Musical Arts (DMA) at Shenandoah Conservatory on a full-tuition scholarship and positioned as a Teaching Assistant.

Prof. Heidi Jacobs

Piano Pedagogy

Ms. Heidi Jacobs earned her Bachelor’s in piano performance at the Eastern New Mexico University where she received a full piano scholarship and the first prize in the MTNA Young Artist State Piano Competition.  She went on to complete her Master’s in Piano Performance at Florida State University where she was awarded a graduate assistantship and performed with top instrumental and vocal students seeking advanced performance degrees.

 
She has taught piano lessons to many students with her dedication to nurture them with positive encouragement and promote a work ethic with inspirational motivation.  Her energy, artistic vision, and commitment to customize the lessons enabled her students to develop their skills quickly and enjoy learning piano.

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Prof. Alexandra Fackler

Piano Pedagogy

Originally from Arkansas, Alexandra Fackler holds a Bachelor of Musical Arts degree in piano from the University of Oklahoma and a Master of Music degree in collaborative piano from the University of Central Oklahoma. She has been teaching piano and has performed extensively as a collaborative artist for fifteen years. Alexandra is additionally trained in the Suzuki method and uses a hybrid approach to formulate an individualized curriculum for each student. She has played for American Choral Directors Association honor choirs, music directed musicals and operas, and participated in chamber music festivals.

It is her belief that music lessons are as much about building soft skills such as perseverance, creativity, and self-confidence as they are about playing an instrument. She holds each student to a high standard of excellence and has had many students place and win local competitions. Her passion lies in making music more accessible for young people and helping them find their own passion through the music that they play. In her spare time she loves to cook, play bluegrass music, and spend time with her husband and two adorable dogs.

Prof. Hansel C. Buckingham

Commercial Vocal Pedagogy

Hansel Buckingham is an internationally touring American singer, voice actor, author, and a voting member of the Recording Academy for the Grammys. He served six years in the United States Air Force as an Atmospheric & Space Scientist, earning the rank of Staff Sergeant. Afterwards, he continued in Aviation as a Meteorologist and Flight Dispatcher for Collins Aerospace for four years. Academically, he has studied Digital Media at the University of Houston, also graduating the entrepreneurial Small Business Administration's "Boots to Business" certification. Currently, Hansel runs the school's marketing, administrative roles, and is a vocal instructor. 

He competitively played alto saxophone in his youth. Currently, in both Pop and Post-hardcore rock industries, he has performed in venues internationally located in Tasmania, Japan, Cambodia, Mexico, the United Kingdom, and all across the United States. He has collaborated with nationally touring musicians in bands such as I Am Abomination with Good Fight Music, Jamie's Elsewhere with Victory Records, The Color Morale with Fearless Records, Sycamour with Hopeless Records, Of Mice & Men with Rise Records, Darkness Divided with Victory Records, and Dayseeker with Invogue Records/Spinefarm Records. His music has been played on over 177 global television networks cumulative including VH1 India, Bowling Music Network, In-Store Sports Network, ScreenPlay, Xcorps Action Sport TV and includes commercial exposure at locations such as Footlocker, Buffalo Wild Wings, Hardrock Cafe, and more.                           

He has been printed in newspapers, appeared on national radio stations, and toured with acts from bands such as Alien Ant Farm, Flyleaf, Bobaflex, Seasons After, Parabelle, Trapt, and others. 

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Prof. Michael Kelley

General Vocals/Theatrical Pedagogy

Michael Kelley is a Baritone singer, actor, teacher, and Director hailing from Bartlett, Illinois. He graduated University of Wisconsin at Madison with a Bachelor’s in Vocal performance and Theatre, with a heavy emphasis on acting and directing. During this time, he studied under Professor Paul Rowe, Professor Jeanette Thompson, and Professor Thomas Kasdorf. 

Having appeared in operas, musicals, and straight plays with notable roles including The Baker in Into the Woods, Puck in Benjamin Britten’s adaptation of A Midsummer night’s dream, a featured ensemble member in La boheme, and a Clown in The 39 Steps. As a classically trained singer, Michael performs in Italian, French, German, and English. However, his true passions lie within German Lieder and English language folk, and he enjoys singing works by Schumann, Bach, Niles, and Sondheim. Among his directing credits are Evil Dead: The Musical (Assistant Director) and Ghost Quartet (Director, Producer). 

 

Michael is a versatile teacher who has worked with Montessori preschool and also instructs adults. His teaching style focuses on developing natural vibrato, monologue work, sight reading vocal music, singing in different languages (German, Italian, Latin, and French), musical theatre/classical/folk music repertoire, character/scene work, vocal health/safety, Linklater technique, Memorization methods, and Audition Prep for undergraduate music schools/theatrical productions.

Prof. Kareem McCullough

General/Classical Guitar

A California native, Kareem McCullough studied at Radford University under the instruction of Dr. Robert Trent, earning a B.M. in music education. After gaining some experience as a teacher at Roanoke city schools, he was granted a teaching assistantship at Marshall University, where he pursued his M.A. under the direction of Julio Alves. During this time, Kareem also maintained a private studio of students. Later, he served as adjunct faculty at the University of Rio Grande, teaching both private guitar lessons and string techniques classes. After earning his Masters, he briefly taught in Cabell County Public Schools before accepting a position back in his own high school county at Loudoun County High School, where he directed the guitar and orchestra departments. 

Kareem has made a presence on the stage as a soloist, chamber musician and conductor. He has performed solo concerts in various places around the United States. He has performed and toured with the inaugural US Guitar Orchestra, led by Bill Kanengiser, and also served as the ensemble director for the Romero Guitar Institute, in which he conducted the famous quartet and guitar orchestra in many performances. Kareem had the great pleasure of studying with renowned guitarists like Roland Dyens, Pepe Romero, Jorge Caballero, and Marcin Dylla. 

In 2020, Kareem was invited to be the guest composer for the 2020 Marlow Guitar International Youth Guitar Competition. This inspired him to explore composition even further and in 2021 he released his debut album titled, “Under Quarantine”. Kareem’s album is an intricate display of originally composed music that reflects his profound and personal journey throughout the 2020 pandemic. “Under Quarantine” is available now on all music streaming services. 

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