BM, Berklee College of Music, Contemporary Writing & Production and Film Scoring
International Tutor Training Program Certification (Levels 1, 2, and 3), College Reading & Learning Association
2014 - Berklee College of Music Saxophone Scholarship
2013 - Garfield High School Jazz Band (Seattle, WA) - Count Basie Musicianship Award
I am a Vietnamese-American saxophonist, pianist, composer, producer, and educator from Seattle, WA. I played lead alto saxophone in the jazz band at Garfield High School under the direction of the renowned Clarence Acox, and received a soloist award as well as a saxophone section award at Essentially Ellington jazz festival at Lincoln Center in New York in 2013.
In 2018, I graduated with honors from Berklee College of Music, receiving my Bachelor of Music with concentrates in Contemporary Writing & Production and Film Scoring on a saxophone scholarship. In my time at Berklee I was able to study with George Garzone among other great minds, and helped pay my way by working as a music theory tutor in the college's Core Music Tutoring department.
During school I founded a fusion/hip-hop/R&B/neo-Soul group, Sangama, to bring some of my compositions to life; and performed/recorded with/co-wrote and arranged with/toured with a progressive folk group, BAERD. As someone who grew up breakdancing and doing ballet, my relationship to music is personal and my passion for music is versatile and open minded. I pride myself as an intuitive people person with a knack for meeting students where they are and helping them achieve their goals within music, no matter their skill level, walk of life, learning style, or disability.
My first teaching experience began 9 years ago in my sophomore year of high school, working as a volunteer saxophone coach for middle school students in a jazz band program with the nonprofit organization Seattle JazzED. I continued my work there throughout and beyond high school as an intern, then lead intern, then an instructor with my own small ensemble (aka combo), and finally as an assistant director of the Summer Jazz Ambassador program, for which I arranged cross-era jazz curriculum in the big band format and conducted rehearsals and performances for groups of students as large as 35, ranging ages 8-18.
For the latter 6 of my 9 semesters at Berklee College of Music, I worked in the college Core Music Tutoring department, working 1-on-1 with fellow college students struggling with mandatory theory courses (Harmony, Ear-Training, Arranging, Conducting, and Tonal Harmony [Traditional Harmony]). After just 1 semester as a tutor, I was promoted to two additional positions in the department: mentor and supervisor. As a CMT mentor I worked with 2nd semester students who had failed their 1st semester theory courses and thus required more involved coaching with regards to music and learning habits, as well as correspondence with faculty. As one of a handful of CMT work-study supervisors, I worked alongside the department director and coordinator to monitor attendance, enforce department policies, and track student progress.
After graduating from Berklee I moved around with my girlfriend for a while and eventually wound up in Portland, OR. I currently have two piano students ages 4 and 8 whom I have been teaching for 8 weeks now.
For beginning students, I have used Hal Leonard's Essential Elements as well as Nancy Faber's Adventures series. For piano students, I like to use Hanon exercises to develop not only necessary musculature but also disciplined use of a metronome for practicing. For students interested in exploring music theory and/or jazz, I use the Real Book combined with my own materials explaining the theory around chord symbols, chord scales, modes, and the like. For all of my students I welcome songs/materials that they want to work on, and can either find sheet music online or create sheet music myself.
I strive to be a balanced teacher that engages the students musical interests while also setting a high (but patient) bar for technical facility and discipline. As someone who has received classical and jazz training, I love to be able to provide students those dual/complimentary curriculum tracks, and, for those students that are eager to dig in to the theory side of things, connect the dots between.
Throughout lessons and following up on previous weeks, I always make a point of acknowledging the progress that has been made before honing in on problem areas or the aspects with room for improvement. In doing so, I try my best to provide motivation and inspiration for increased learning independence and regiment. Some things I have tried to organically achieve this are demonstrating concepts myself on keyboard or saxophone, or showing the student audio and video examples that incite excitement about the matter at hand.