Having been raised by parents who were both music teachers and performers, Kathleen's life from the very beginning has revolved around the performing arts. Piano and dance lessons were started at the age of 6, then 8 years of Oboe lessons followed. Literally...she has been performing on stage for 48 years in a wide variety of musical and dance activities.
She graduated with a Bachelor of Arts from East Bay CA State University in 1979. Not one to stop learning, she went on to study opera for 8 years with the world reknown opera coach and conductor Dietrich Erbelding. Then came other advanced educational workshops: The Estill Voice Training System, a highly successful and quick method that shortened the learning curve from 4 years to 4 months for most students. If you want to learn how to belt without growing nodes on your vocal chords, sing your low notes as loud as your high notes, sing all the way up to the whistle range, and change the color of your voice to match whatever style of song you are singing at the moment, Kathy has over 30 years of teaching experience and a huge bag of tricks to get you there FAST!
She also spends time in researching the latest piano teaching methods so as to stay current with new and improved ways to teach this beautiful instrument.
Last but not least...Kathleen is a people person. She loves teaching so much that when she is in a lesson she is as happy as a thoroughbred on a race track. Loves working with children, teens, adults, and seniors.
Piano & Voice Instructor
Miss Wendy Porter is one of our many dedicated music instructors. She studied private piano for 16 years with composer and pianist Alexis Howe of San Francisco. Along with her piano she has had 6 years of private vocal training with Kathy Saffas as well as opera training from Dietrich Erbelding. She received her Bachelor of Arts in 2003 from East Bay California State University. Wendy can sing any style of music, but if you are interested in pursuing R&B she is one of your better choices. Her proficiency in piano as a vocal teacher gives her an undesputable advantage for being a top rate teacher. She is also very patient and kind by nature, so anyone taking from her will enjoy this lovely lady of the arts. When she isn't teaching or doing volunteer work, she freelances as a portrait and wedding photographer and graphic arts designer. http://mirasolphotography.com
Piano & Voice Instructor
Whether you want to learn classical, jazz, pop, or rock, Angela does it all from singing to playing the piano. She loves to work with students of all ages and abilities, from children to adult beginners, or those interested in returning to music after several years away. For those geared towards a professional career in singing, this teacher can provide performance techniques and anything needed to succeed in the music industry, including how to make lead sheets for a band and to get your press kit together.
In her vocal lessons she focuses on the fundamentals of proper singing technique that can be applied to any style of singing. She will help you increase your power and range without vocal blow out. Because of the style of singing and vocal warm-ups she learned from the Mark Baxter Vocal Studio, she will work with the muscles involved with the voice so they are strengthened and coordinated by exercises which do not interfere with 'style.' Second, all additional muscles (the trouble makers) are relaxed. The result is vocal strength and flexibility, which allows you to sing from the heart rather than your head.
She received her Bachelor’s Degree in Music in 2003 at the prestigious Berklee College of Music in Boston, MA. She is currently pursuing her Master’s Degree in Vocal Performance at Cal State East Bay. Her personal vocal instructor was Mark Baxter who is a well-respected, published author and teacher.
Listen to Her Sing & Play!
by Angela Kempe
I Miss You
Voice & Piano Instructor
Sara comes to Better World with a strong sense of committment to music and desire to share with others, especially children. Her personal approach ensures each student receives the instruction and discipline needed to grow, whether it's in a group class or private lesson. Many of our young students bubble with joy when they talk about how much fun her Children's Show Choir and Musical Theater classes are.
Not one to be satisfied with basic music training, Sara immersed herself in music education at Mt. San Antonio College, University of California (Irvine) and San Jose State University to receive her Master of Arts in Vocal Performance. She also received her certification in NATS (National Association of Teachers in Singing). Sara enjoys performing, with a deep love for performing opera.
Listen to Her Sing & Play!
Voice & Piano Instructor
Dina is a talented musician and enthusiastic teacher who has worked with a variety of students of all ages and abilities. She has experience in a wide variety of musical genres including Jazz, R&B, Pop and Classical. She will gear lessons towards thegenre that most interests the student, while maintaining a strong emphasis on the musical fundamentals and technique.
She is motivated to helping each and every student achieve their musical goals by incorporating ear training, musicianship, technique, sight reading and/or sight singing into every lesson. She creates a warm and positive atmosphere to make learning enjoyable, which helps build confidence for performance.
She graduated from American River College with an Associate’s Degree in Jazz Studies where she studied with Dr. Art Lapierre. She also sang in a vocal jazz ensemble, which has won eight Down Beat Magazine awards and performed at the 2007 International Association for Jazz Education conference. She is currently a senior at CSU East Bay studying voice and has traveled to Lithuania as a member of their Chamber Singers to perform with Pro Musica, the choir of Vilnius University.
Guo Tian (Emily)
Piano & Keyboard Instructor
Emily Tian, has been performing piano for over 23 years and plans on performing for many, many more. Before she was born, she had already heard a lot of music -- her Mom is a professional opera singer and her Dad is a professional ballet dancer. When she was four years old, she started her life as a pianist. During her childhood she received many awards for piano, vocals and dancing. In 1997 she attended Gui Zhou Music/Arts Magnet School in China, for professional piano study. She graduated in 2000 and then went on to Gui Zhou University Music Department to continue her piano major study, where she received her Bachelor degree in 2005. She received “Best Musician Award” every year between 1997 and 2005 at Gui Zhou Music/Arts Magnet, and the Gui Zhou University. Because of her talent, the Gui Zhou Province Symphony invited her to be a lifetime piano soloist. She took the job, but she didn’t want to stop her studies there. In 2006-2007 she went to Germany Stuttgart Music Conservatory to study with Ms. Huang Wan Ying, who is one of the best piano educators in Europe as well as China. In January 2008, she received the 1st place prize from “The 1st Professional Musical Instrument Competition in Gui Zhou Province”. In 2009 she was accepted into the Cal State East Bay University Piano performance Master Program.
Emily Tian started teaching piano in 2000. And since then her students have won many awards. Her teaching ranges from basic piano through advanced including entrance audition focus for prospective university students. Some of her past students have gone to attend music conservatory, while some of them became pop or rock pianists. Emily used to play in a rock band from 1999-2009 as the keyboard and vocalist. As a classical trained pianist she focuses on the fundamentals of proper piano technique that can be applied to any style of piano. She helps students establish good practicing habits to improve their overall experience at the piano. She incorporates music theory, technique, ear training, as well as sight reading into each lesson, building a strong musical foundation in each of her students. She also likes to play duets with her students, to help them find the right style for them, be it classical, pop, rock, or jazz.
Here's what you need to know about Krystina! Her deep love for piano (as well as music in general) has made for an awesome teacher! She has taken private piano lessons since second grade, and from there could not stop playing the piano. Sound like something you would like to hear in your home? Having an insatiable desire to learn all the instruments, she also learned violin, guitar, drums, bass, xylophone, saxophone and clarinet. This gives you the picture of her love for learning and her desire to pass that love along to her students. In her junior year of high school she became the accompanist for her school's choir.
Krystina has taught group piano as well as private lessons from pre-school to adults. She keeps her lessons fresh and interesting by researching and writing out modern songs that her students are interested in learning. Patience is her virtue, so any child or teen will flourish under her tutelage. Since she loves to play piano, she stays current on the latest pop songs for herself; hence she is a great choice for the student who wants to learn what's being played on the radio along with all the great piano works of classical composers. She is also a fantastic communicator with all the parents about their child's progress and coming assignments. To encourage her students to put in more practice time, she comes up with clever ideas like holding practicing contests!
Krystina is also a performer. She currently plays piano for weddings, parties, and other events. She was the music director for CCJDS (Contra Costa Jewish Day School) in Lafayette in 2010, and was recently asked to be an adjudicator for the 2011 USOMC (U.S. Open Music Competition) in California. One last little known fact about Krystina...she has a love for singing too, and has entered and won 1st place in singing competitions as well as being featured on local artist's CD's.
Students and parents at Better World Music are very happy with the high quality lesson they receive from this multi-talented teacher.
Improve your voice and musicianship with lessons from an active musician who's experienced in the industry. David Arzo graduated with an Associates Degree in Vocal Performance and a minor in Music Business from the Musicians Institute in Hollywood, CA. He has been singing for 15 years and is an active musician who writes, performs, and produces around the nation. He was trained in speech-level singing with Dave Stroud, Jazz Vocal and Improvisation with Mike Campbell (named one of the best 500 Jazz singers of all time), and Brazilian Jazz with Grammy Award Winner Carol “Mama O” Rogers. He’s proficient in all genres and styles but his expertise lies in contemporary music.
Some of the important things he'll work on for vocalists is Breathing, Cold Spot, Diaphragm work, Diction, Vowel Placement, Proper Consonants, Tongue Placement, Jaw positions, Vibrato, Tone, Power, Resonance and many, many more techniques to help get you to properly improve your voice. He is also proficient at piano, guitar, bass, studio engineering, and Do-It-Yourself promotion. So whether you want to improve your voice, learn piano, brush up on theory, up your stage presence, or some tips on getting your band going, he can do it all.
David has shared the stage with Grammy winners, legendary musicians, teachers and students from Choral to Rock to RnB. He's loves teaching students of all ages and abilities and believes in the joy that music brings and will always keep that at the forefront of his teaching method. You’ll learn and enjoy doing it, that’s what its ALL ABOUT!
Listen to Him Sing!
Two songs from David's
Jazz & Classical Piano Teacher
With a BM in Jazz Composition & Film Scoring from Berklee College of Music and a MM in Jazz Studies, Piano Performance, from the University of North Texas, Graham is in a unique position to teach piano technique, jazz aural skills and theory, small-group leadership& supportive roles, and improvisation. His most recent position was as the Jazz Instructor at the Music Conservatory of Texas, where he innovated and implemented a series of jazz education classes aimed at young musicians. It has been a wonderful environment to develop his personal teaching method.
He has performed or collaborated with artists Ray Price, G Koop, Brad Leali, Rosana Eckert, Michelle Weir, and Lee Oskar. Under the direction of Craig Marshall, he helped administer the annual Addison International Jazz Festival and presented artists Chick Corea, Christian McBride, Roy Hargrove, Kenny Barron, The Yellowjackets, Dave Binney, and Tierney Sutton. He scored the independent film "Belonging" for director Jeff Archuleta and he won "Outstanding Original Score" for his work on "Lazarus Go Home (The Unnamed)" at the February 2010 Scary Cow Film Festival in San Francisco. In addition, he runs a booking & publishing company, "Richards Bros. Music," with his brother, Dave (grammy-nominated composer and performer).
Teaching jazz to young musicians has become a passion of his. Listening to jazz is like learning a new language, and most young students are still developing their basic musical vocabulary. He is excited to have published his first piano method book, Piano, Yeah! Vol. 1, which presents basic jazz theory in a simple and fun way that is accessible to kids.
Watch Him Play!
Cheyenne is a pianist and composer who moved to the Bay Area after studying jazz piano at UCLA. He earned his master’s degree in music composition from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, studying with Dan Becker. He plays weekly at Zuni Café in San Francisco and plays frequently at various other venues around the Bay Area.
With over 15 years of teaching experience, his approach combines an emphasis on strong technique and musical literacy that includes improvisation, practical harmony, and connecting the piano so music students hear in the contemporary musical landscape.