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Tag: Piano

Dr. Hee Jin Chang

Soprano, Dr. Hee Jin Chang is an active performer in Maryland. She received her Graduate Performance Diploma from the Peabody Institute in 2023. Dr. Chang completed her Doctorate, Master and Bachelor in Music Arts at the Seoul National University. 

Dr. Chang has performed major and minor roles such as Suor Angelica, Tosca, Gilda, Norina, Gretel, Annina and Giovanna at CUA, Seoul Metropolitan Opera. She was also cast in Giulia from Rossini’s Opera ‘La Scala di Seta’ for Peabody’s Opera. Dr. Chang was awarded the London Classical Voice Award and the Classical Singers Vocal Music Competition.

Dr. Chang has taught voice and intermediate piano students for over 15 years. As an instructor, her goal is to make the students feel confident and joyful with singing and playing piano. Dr. Chang believes students can grow musically with proper technique and when they enjoy their music.

Ms. Carla Ruffin

Ms. Carla Ruffin enjoys sharing the gift of music with others and helping them reach their goals. She has over 30+ years experience as a musician including a Bachelors degree in Music Education and worldwide travel as a member of the US Army Band. Ms. Ruffin looks forward to helping her students see how high they can fly!

Music is Ms. Ruffin’s passion because it can evoke every emotion and aspect of the human experience. Teaching young people and adults the skills needed to play woodwind or piano for their own pleasure, develop music proficiency for college or to perform for others gives her great satisfaction.

MS. Sara West

Ms. Sara West is an accomplished pianist, pedagogue, and researcher. She holds a Bachelor of Music in Piano Performance from James Madison University, where she studied with Dr. Eric Ruple. Ms. West also holds a Master of Music in Piano Performance from the University of Wyoming, where she studied with internationally-renowned pianist and pedagogue Theresa Bogard. She is currently continuing her studies at the University of Maryland, where she is pursuing a second Master’s degree in Musicology. 

During her time at the University of Wyoming, Ms. West won the prestigious John P. Ellbogen Outstanding Graduate Assistant Teaching Award for her successful teaching of undergraduate courses, including music theory, history, and piano. She was the first music student in the university’s history to win this award. Ms. West was also hired as a Lecturer, in addition to her appointment as a Graduate Assistant, allowing her to fully design, structure, and deliver a history class to undergraduate music majors. 

Sara has performed in recitals, festivals, and competitions across Maryland, Virginia, and Wyoming, as both a soloist and a collaborative pianist. She has received several piano performance scholarships, including the Margaret Arth Music scholarship, the Cunningham Piano Scholarship, and the Townsend C. and Clydene Allen Memoral Scholarship. Ms. West has also received full assistantships from the University of Wyoming and the University of Maryland. Ms. West’s piano playing has been hailed as “breathtakingly beautiful,” “intensely musical,” and “poetic” by musicians across the country.

Ms. West is interested in the mental health of musicians and dedicates her research to best teaching practices with mental health in mind. Ms. West completed her master’s thesis on mental health struggles and injury in musicians, and she strives to apply her findings to aid her own students. Ms. West is trained in several different piano techniques, including injury prevention, allowing her to customize technical approaches for each of her students. She loves to teach musicianship and interpretation to her students, in addition to technique. Sara enjoys teaching lesser known repertoire as well. She has taught students ages 4 to 56, and is open to students of all ages and stages. Ms. West hopes to foster love for music, and for the piano, in each of her students while helping them achieve their goals. 

Mr. David Lowe

Mr. David Lowe has decades of experience as a performer, writer, independent researcher, and educator in many genres of music.
For many years he has informally studied West African Styles, Brazilian Styles, Cuban and Caribbean Music, Jazz, Art Music, and Early Music. He continues to research and refine his discipline.

As a composer, arranger, and performer, he is fluent in traditional writing, popular music, and Jazz. His professional training began as a self-taught electric bassist developing relationships with musicians like Koko Taylor, Albert King, and John Lee Hooker. His experience inspired him to formalize music studies and earn a degree in composition in Boston. Over the past decade, he learned to play Double Bass from Ira Gold. He devotes efforts to refining his bass soloist and writing skills and his independent research. His current projects include surveying the musical development of the North Eastern region of Brazil, African American Church Music, Early Italian Music Pedagogy, and Early European Folk Music and Dance Traditions. Additionally, he operates an experimental musicianship skills training lab. The goal is to develop customized standards-based instrumental music instruction for learners interested in learning popular music and jazz professionally.

Mr. Quan Le

Originally born in Vietnam, Mr. Quan Le started piano lessons at the age of 8. In 2017, Mr. Le decided to pursue a music career as a pianist. He completed his Associate Degree of Arts from Montgomery College in 2020 and Bachelor of Arts from St. Mary’s College of Maryland in 2022 under the guidance of pianist Brian Ganz. This fall, Mr. Le will continue to pursue a Master’s Degree at the University of Maryland.​

Mr. Le believes music has a supernatural power of helping people escape reality, and enter a magical world filled with imagination and wonders. It is within music that he feels the voiceless can speak and the blind can see. It is where one can become true to oneself with no fear of being criticized. It is with music that Mr. Le overcame the challenges in life, and it is his wish to share music with as many people as he can.

Dr. Ji Eun Kim

Soprano Ji Eun Kim was born and grew up in Seoul, South Korea. She earned her Bachelors Degree in Voice from Yonsei University in Korea. In the United States she received her Masters Degree in Voice from the Peabody Conservatory studying with Prof. Phyllis Bryn-Julson, and an Artist Diploma in Voice and Opera from the Cleveland Institute of Music studying with Dr. Mary Schiller. Recently, she received her Doctor of Musical Arts in Voice and Opera from Boston University studying with Penelope Bitzas. Now, she has relocated to Gaithersburg in Maryland and is teaching, conducting and singing for the choir at Korean Presbyterian Church of Baltimore.

Dr. Kim has performed numerous roles in opera productions of the Boston University Opera Institute including Violetta (La traviata, act 3), Lidoine (Dialogues of the Carmelites), Miss Wingrave (Owen Wingrave), Vitellia (La clemenza di Tito), Eliza (Dark sisters), and Donna Anna (Don Giovanni). Also, she performed Komponist in Ariadne auf Naxos and Beatrice in Beatrice et Benedict while at Cleveland, and Countess in Le nozze di Figaro and First Lady in Magic Flute while completing her Masters Degree. For concert work she performed the whole work of Handel’s Messiah and Haydn’s The Creation in the Yonsei Concert Choir and was the soprano soloist of Handel’s Dixit Dominus, HWV 232 with Neponset Choral Society. Recently, she made her debut at Boston Symphony Hall as a soprano soloist of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony conducted by Ken-David Masur. In the summer of 2015, she was a featured artist at Opera Theater of Pittsburgh and performed the role of the Countess in Le nozze di Figaro.Dr. Kim was a first prizewinner in both the local Metrowest Opera Competition and the Piccola Opera Competition in New Hampshire; 4th prize winner of the Bel Canto Competition and received the encouragement award from the NEMPAC competition in Boston. Dr. Kim has received several accolades for her opera performances. Among them includes the fall 2012 performance of Violetta in the third act of La traviata at the Fringe Festival with the Boston University Opera Institute. “Kim’s initially delicate singing accurately depicted Violetta’s physical and mental frailty, but she revealed a clean, well-tempered sound in her passionate duet with Alfredo.” “Ji Eun Kim used her gleaming soprano to penetrating effect as Composer” in Ariadne auf Naxos, and “Ji Eun Kim brought warm charisma to the opera’s subversive protagonist, Eliza, and shaped a strong, resolute persona with minimal resources” in Nico Muhly’s Dark Sisters.

Dr. Monica Roberson, Director

Monica Roberson, D.M.A, is a recognized performer, composer and music educator. Before receiving her Doctorate of Music in Composition/Theory and Piano Performance from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Dr. Roberson also studied at Peabody Conservatory of Music where she received her Master’s of Music and the University of North Florida where she received her Bachelor’s of Education in Music.

As a pianist, she has performed throughout the United States to rave reviews. She has been featured on public television in Jacksonville, FL. Her piano playing has been described as “passionate and energetic.” She has competed in various piano competitions and received awards such as third place winner of the DeBose National Piano Competition.

As a composer, Dr. Roberson has composed various pieces ranging from solo to symphonic works. Her music has appeared in master classes with world-renowned vocalist, Dawn Upshaw. She has won several composition competitions, some of which include winner of the Margaret Blackburn Composition Competition. She was also awarded the Eubie Blake Scholar Award for outstanding musician and composer. During her studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, she was awarded a grant from the Women’s Studies program in order to compose her chamber opera piece titled “A Room of One’s Own” based on the book by Virginia Woolf. She currently accepts commissions and participates in collaborations with artists. With every note she writes, she strives to touch the souls of listeners through rich, colorful, and energetic sounds.

As a teacher, Dr. Roberson has received positive ratings from her students. She teaches piano, voice, strings and percussion. Her students have won various competitions and scholarships in competitions such as ACT-SO, MSMTA, MTNA and Piano Guild. She has recently taught at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Spelman College, Howard University, the University of Maryland at Baltimore County and Anne Arundel Community College. She has also assisted with the growth and development of private piano programs at the Nathan Carter School of Music, Maryland Conservatory of Music and Champaign School of Music. Dr. Roberson has also taught general music, band and choir at Holy Trinity Episcopal School Elementary School, Greenland Pines Elementary School and Grace Episcopal School. Dr. Roberson is a recipient of the Guild Teachers’ National Honor Roll Award from the American College of Musicians for preparing top students for piano adjudication and international composition contests. In 2022, she was award the Piano Guild Hall of Fame. Dr. Roberson is currently a part-time professor at Howard Community College.

Dr. Roberson is also active in church music ministry. She has served as musician and assistant director at the Cross Creek Presbyterian Church and Mt. Nebo Baptist Church in Jacksonville, FL, Warner Baptist Church in Falls Church, VA, and Friendship Lutheran Church in Savoy, IL. She has also served as the Director of Music at the Oakland Baptist Church in Alexandria, VA.

Additionally, Dr. Roberson is a writer and publisher. She has written several articles for Salem Press and EBSCO Publishing’s multi-volume of biographical and analytical publication of Musicians and Composers of the 20th Century as well as The Forties in America. She has also written several articles in their upcoming multi-volume of The Twenties in America, The Thirties in America, and Great Lives from History: African Americans. Dr. Roberson is also the publisher of Roberson Music Publishing Company where several of her works have been published.

In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with her family and reading her favorite books.

To learn more about Dr. Roberson, visit her website.