Grisell Velázquez- Báez, Singer and Music Teacher, was born and raised in Puerto Rico. She earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Vocal Performance at Puerto Rico Conservatory of Music and has certification in the Despertal Musical concept, a special Spanish program of the Conservatory. Grisell has been teaching vocal technique and elementary music education since 2004. Her love of singing and teaching brought her to California in 2010 to pursue her Master’s Degree in Music Education with an emphasis in Kodály Method at Holy Names University, Oakland. Recently, she completed all three of Orff Schulwerk, Certification Program from the San Francisco School. She is currently working at the International Renaissance School in Oakland as conductor of Voci Pure Chorus and Koday teacher since 2015. Grisell enjoys developing both curriculum utilizing traditional English and Spanish folk songs with singing games, rhymes, dances, percussions instruments, and music concepts.
Daniella Urban was born and raised in Hungary. She’s been singing since she was born and learned music (szolfézs) with the Kodály method in the National Music School of Hungary, then she went to a special high school for musicians, studying vocals, conducting and harmonics at an advanced level. She plays the violin and the piano. She founded and directs the first Hungarian chamber chorus in the Bay Area: Corvinus (2015). She also sings tenor with the Oakland Symphony. She started at TRIS in January of 2016. Urban received her bachelor’s in Transportation Engineering, and she had worked for the US Military as a contractor for many years (served in two wars: Balkan & Iraq). She runs her own business as an Autoimmune Lifestyle Coach, helping chronically ill people to heal naturally and live a healthy, happy and full life. She is also a personal trainer, as she used to fight MMA (Muay Thai is her specialty). When she has extra time, she hikes with her vizsla, or knits, scrapbooks, reads, cooks, or swims.
Katrina Turman is a Bay Area native and grew up singing with the Piedmont East Bay Children’s Choir. She went on to study voice at the University of Oregon under the tutelage of Laura Decher Wayte and Dr. Sharon Paul. After travelling in Europe and performing with the Munich Bach Choir, Katrina returned to California and was introduced to the world of Kodály music education while working for the Piedmont East Bay Children’s Choir. Inspired by the advanced technical skills and genuine joy in music-making displayed by students under the Kodály program, Katrina pursued further studies in Kecskemét, Hungary at the Kodály Institute. There, Katrina had the opportunity to study with numerous world-renowned teachers, including advanced choral conducting teacher, Peter Erdei. While in Hungary, Katrina was also lucky enough to develop high quality methodology skills as well as learn about the highly sought-after Kokas Method, a music program that incorporates free-movement. Katrina joined TRIS in 2016.
Sarah Plovnick is originally from Boston, and earned a B.A. in Music and Comparative Arts from Washington University in St. Louis. She recently completed a Fulbright Scholarship in the Dominican Republic where she taught in a music education non-profit organization and researched combinations of jazz and traditional Dominican music. She also taught at a music camp in Maine for four summers and worked with two youth organizations in St. Louis. She actively performs on both jazz piano and French horn. Sarah joined TRIS in 2016.
Kenji Higashihama - Piano Instructor
Kenji is a native of Detroit, MI where he grew up singing and playing gospel music. Throughout his career he has had the privilege of music directing a number of shows and groups in Michigan, Illinois, Hawai’i, and California, Hope Galas for the American Cancer Society, assistant music directing for a national tour of The Music Man, and working with wonderful talent from Broadway’s Wicked, Newsies, and Phantom of the Opera. He did his undergraduate studies in music at the University of Hawai’i at Mānoa and holds certification in Chinese-Mandarin from the Defense Language Institute. He has been at TRIS since 2014.
Tim Vaughan – Drum Set Instructor
Tim was born in Buckinghamshire, England. Tim Vaughan studied drum set with George Marsh at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, and went on to perform with both local and national acts, in jazz and blues festivals, at venues including the LA Greek Theater, the Santa Barbara Bowl, and The Warfield Theatre. In the 1990s, he began teaching drums and has found it to be the truly joy-filled part of his life. He had the honor of serving as drum coach for “We’re the Superhumans,” an inspirational trailer for the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. In addition to giving private drum set lessons, he has taught group classes for the National Guitar Summer Workshop, and, as the snare drummer for the famed Green Street Marching Band, has reached out to and mentored several local high school drum sections. He has played in numerous theatrical productions throughout the Bay Area, including the long-running Avenue Q at the New Conservatory Theatre Center in San Francisco. He has been teaching at TRIS since February 2010.
Emanuela Nikiforova - Violin Instructor
Emanuela was born in Varna, Bulgaria. She graduated from music middle and high schools in Varna and Sofia, Bulgaria. She has a Pedagogy diploma from the International Menuhin Music Academy in Switzerland, a Bachelor’s and Master’s in Music Performance from LSU, Baton Rouge, and The San Francisco Conservatory of Music. Emanuela is a member of the Oakland, Berkeley, Marin, Santa Rosa and Silicon Valley Symphony orchestras, and a music director of the formation Antika Slavic Strings. In her spare time, she likes to be outdoors, do yoga, and, teach violin! Emanuela started teaching at TRIS in January of 2014.
Piedmont Campus5201 Park BoulevardPiedmont, CA 94611Phone: 510-328-1127Fax: 510-531-8055
Oakland Campus3650 Dimond Ave.Oakland, CA 94602Phone: 510−531−8566Fax: 510-531-8055
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