Keys To Life Portland Music Instructors
Essie Bertain, Piano + Voice
Essie acquired her undergraduate degree in Musical Theatre from The American Musical and Dramatic Academy in Los Angeles, CA and New York City, NY. As a versatile individual, she has had the opportunity to hold several professional roles including Assistant Choir Director, Vocal Instructor, Piano Instructor, as well as Dance Instructor. She has been fortunate enough to educate diverse groups of students aging from 5–15 years of age.
Prior to her undergraduate education, she took classical piano lessons for many years, passing California’s Certificate of Merit Level 8. She continued lessons through her first year of college at the Catholic University of America as a Vocal Performance Major before transferring to Los Angeles to pursue her degree in Musical Theatre. Essie continues to excel with classical piano repertoire as well as pop and she continually accompanies her voice students and plays duets with her private piano students.
Essie’s goal as a teacher is to instill a sense of music appreciation while at the same time teaching students about the technical aspects of singing and playing piano. She finds no greater joy than teaching students and watching them grow into the musicians they are destined to be.
Dylan Campbell, Drums + Guitar + Ukulele
Dylan is a drummer, guitarist, singer, composer, and a natural teacher. Dylan’s methods as a teacher involve teaching reading in addition to ear-training, technique, creative development, and positive practice habits. He credits his love of children to being the eldest in a large family- hours of babysitting and playing creatively with a wide array of ages and abilities primed him to be the enthusiastic and patient teacher that he is today.
Dylan was raised in Portland, Oregon and first started playing music when he could lift wooden spoons high enough to hit pots and pans in his family’s kitchen. Drum kit lessons started at age two and guitar at 16 (with some piano instruction in his early elementary years). Dylan formed his first band in 8th grade and has not been without one since.
In 2010 he began voice and guitar lessons with KTL Director Sara Kushner. She was impressed by the strength of his ability to play multiple instruments and sing harmony effortlessly while playing guitar. In 2012 Dylan transformed his house into a concert venue; he toured with his band along the west coast in 2013 and 2014. 2015 brought him back to KTL, this time as an instructor with training from both Sara Kushner and Ty Phelps, KTL’s head drum teacher. In the fall of 2015 his band produced their first full-length prog rock album.
Dylan’s music philosophy: “Music is a natural product of human existence. We have always made it, and other art, and there is a reason for that. If we all created more the world would be a better place. Children should be given the opportunity to know and live that. It is a privilege to be involved in their instruction.”
Ashley’s instrumental expertise is with piano and voice, having studied both at a high level, and she is also a gifted multi-instrumentalist as well. Ashley has a B.A. in Vocal Performance from the the University of Portland and was the music director and choir leader at a Vancouver Church for several years after graduation.
She is a veritable wizard in what she is able to accomplish with her students: she’s helped those who were labeled tone deaf sing in tune, she’s inspired them to get past stage fright, and she’s taken on the challenge of helping her students learn to not just read music but also learn to play by ear and explore their creativity. Ashley’s strong knowledge of theory and her wealth of experience as a performer inform her teaching style too. She elicits the best from her students and motivates them to accomplish more than they ever thought possible.
Ashley began piano at a young age and accomplished the highest level in her state’s Syllabus system. She began seriously studying voice in high school and made it her major in college with the focus on opera. During college she accompanied and conducted various choirs and taught private piano/voice lessons. Her students have been of all ages, abilities, and have ranged from small groups to large choirs.
In addition to developing new classes for the private school at the Church she worked at, Ashley taught her self guitar so that she could lead her choirs in a new way. Ashley credits her strong foundation in piano as the gateway to other instruments, including the ukulele.
Laima Meurer, Piano
Laima has a sunny disposition and takes a creative approach to motivating and inspiring her students! Originally from Lithuania, Laima has her BA in music and her masters in music education. Laima has many years of experience teaching music in a classroom setting and private piano and voice lessons. Laima came to Portland by way of Berkley, CA where she taught piano for years for two different music schools. Laima also plays the accordion! Laima is part of OMTA and is able to send her students through their Syllabus program if they’re interested.
Bronwyn Jones, Voice + Piano + Piano Forever + Seeds of Harmony
Bronwyn Jones is a fun, knowledgeable, and patient piano/voice teacher. Bronwyn has worked with and taught a diverse range of ages and appreciates the unique differences each demographic brings to the table.
Originally from Seattle, Bronwyn moved to Portland to attend the University of Portland where she majored in Vocal Performance and graduated in 2015 with a B.A. in Music. Besides studying Vocal Pedagogy and teaching, Bronwyn makes performing a priority. She recently performed The HMS Pinafore and Pirates of Penzance with Mocks Crest Opera and continues to perform in other local operas.
As a young child Bronwyn learned to play the harpsichord (her mother is a master of the instrument) and she began playing the trumpet in her late elementary and middle school years as part of the school band. As a teenager she began taking voice lessons that first developed her ability to belt and sing pop and R &B. She switched to classical in high school and continued developing her high soprano technique throughout University including her year-long study in London, England.
Bronwyn understands the connection that a student has with their music teacher. She appreciates that they need support and the feeling that their teacher believes in them. She looks forward to working with your children!
Eric is a teacher, guitarist, composer, and producer originally from Boston, Massachusetts. An alumnus of NYU with a bachelors in Music Theory and Composition, he has taught private lessons since he was 16. Eric enjoys furthering his students abilities on the guitar through his own methods and standard books such as Hal Leonard’s beginning course. Eric seeks to create a fun and nurturing atmosphere so his students can push themselves to excel.
Eric has worked at recording studios and sound design companies, scored dozens of films, documentaries, and commercials. Many of the projects he has worked on have been accepted into festivals such as the Student Academy Awards and the Chicago Film Festival. Eric is a lover of all types of music and finds the greatest joy in connecting to and sharing the delight and wonder of music with his students. Eric also enjoys hiking, cooking funky pastas, and old films.
Bryce Caster possesses the desirable skill set of expertise on the violin, thorough knowledge of theory, a deep interest in playing the piano, and a mastery of both the classical foundation and improvisation. He is also one of the most patient and kind teachers you’ll meet, having honed his classroom management skills by teaching strings to hundreds of late elementary and middle schoolers in a youth orchestra in Corvallis, OR.
Bryce received his degree in violin performance from the University of Oregon and has since been performing up and down the Pacific Northwest in classical, rock, and folk styles. His time is also dedicated to teaching private students and group strings classes of varying ages. Bryce is fascinated with learning how to best share the magic of music with audiences and students alike. He is also a founding member of the new-music ensemble Sound Of Late, an ensemble dedicated to performing the music of living composers.
Since his introduction to the piano at five years old, Nicolas has been tapping, clapping, singing, strumming, humming, thumping, picking, plucking, and plunking his way through the expansive landscape of musical spheres from across the known sonic spectrum and beyond. A Portland native, and graduate of the University of Oregon’s jazz studies program, he continues to explore new musical territories in the manic, lifelong pursuit of broadening his own understanding and abilities.
Through the years, music has taken Nick on several journeys across the United States and Europe, to perform on such renown stages as the Montreaux Jazz Festival in Switzerland, and at the 50th annual Monterey Jazz Festival in California. He has had the benefit and good fortune of working with many wonderful, inspiring teachers and band leaders in his life, and lives to empower the next generation of learners to explore their own musical paths.
Matthew Huff is a multi-instrumentalist who has been described by his peers, teachers, and students as a talented musician and a kind hearted and patient teacher. In his own words, Matthew states, “my approach to teaching is to provide every student with the opportunity to make their own discoveries. I believe that when a student is encouraged to follow their own path through a mentor, they will find the challenges of developing as a musician to be both fun and rewarding. I have had the great fortune of being surrounded by teachers, musicians, and students of many different backgrounds which have greatly broadened my teaching abilities. I find great meaning in helping others discover their own voice.”
Matthew’s odyssey as a musician and teacher began with the drums in middle school band class. He got deep into guitar not long after and began formal instruction. His studies and predilections led him to study not just the piano, ukulele, drums, and bass but also to firmly establish himself as a professional gigging musician, in the jazz world and beyond.
Matthew’s post high school education began at PCC where he graduated with an associate’s degree. During his time there he taught group music classes as part of the music club. He then attended PSU where he studied jazz performance on the guitar and afterwards further deepened his knowledge base and skill set by joining the Alan Jones Academy of Music.
Matthew has been teaching private lessons since 2014 and enjoys imparting his extensive knowledge of theory, improvisation, songwriting, learning by ear, and transcription to his students in accessible ways. Matthew knows the value and necessity of using method books with his students but he also makes sure to apply the core concepts to music his students desire to learn.
Paul Paresa, Piano + Voice
Paul Paresa is an engaging and exuberant piano and voice instructor, a composer, professional accompanist, and gigging musician. He’s a natural with kids, making lessons fun, challenging, and rewarding. His background with choirs- as a leader, singer, and accompanist is vast and he performs in numerous bands and hosts a weekly jazz jam. Paul graduated from PCC-Clackamas with his degree in Music and is currently finishing his music degree (jazz piano) at PSU; both schools awarded him merit-based scholarships.
As a teacher Paul is intent on helping his students learn their favorite repertoire and is happy to write down music for them on the spot (yes, his ear is that good). He enjoys working with students of all ages and is adept at adjusting to their unique needs. Paul’s superlative patience and understanding bring out the best in his students.
Laura Cunard, Substitue Piano + Voice
Laura Cunard, a piano/voice teacher, has been teaching since 1990 and is a professional jazz pianist and vocalist. KTL is pumped to have such an expert on board to help our students! You can learn more about her at her website: freewindmusicstudio.com