Our Teachers

We love teaching! We are all experienced performers and educators. Some of us specialize in jazz, others in classical. Some of us play in rock bands, others in symphonies. Whether your kids want to be the next Mozart or the next Michael Jackson, we've got a teacher for you.

Qualities of a great music teacher

Musical proficiency is only one part of what makes a great music teacher. With kids especially, a teacher's personality is a huge factor. We are kind, patient, and encouraging. We love having fun but we also understand the value of discipline. 

 

Teacher Bios

We currently have 30+ teachers on staff and we are growing every month. Below you will find bios for several of our teachers.

Brent Henderson

Brent Henderson, piano teacher & founder

Brent is a pianist, piano teacher, and founder of Henderson Academy of Music. He teaches all styles of music- jazz, classical, pop, rock, blues, and more. As a performer, he has played in rock bands, jazz bands, and as a solo pianist. 

As a teacher, Brent is patient, encouraging, and his students always have fun during lessons!

Brent has been teaching piano since high school. He has taught hundreds of students, thousands of lessons, and in his teaching prime had over 40 weekly piano students. His current focus is on running Henderson Academy of Music and hiring great educators who share his teaching philosophy and passion for music.

 

 

 

James Borchers

Piano, Guitar, & Drum Teacher James Borchers

James is a composer and musician with vast experience in multiple genres of music. Many prominent contemporary music ensembles have performed his compositions and he has performed as a musician in many different settings throughout the United States and abroad.

As an active and versatile music educator he has taught numerous courses at the college level including music theory, music technology, world music, class piano, and percussion ensemble. He has also taught a variety of classes and workshops for elementary to high school age children. He is currently the instructor of music at Skagit Valley College. 

Through his teaching, James hopes to inspire students in the pursuit of an individual creative voice that will meaningfully contribute to the larger music community. 

 

Cole Holland

Piano Teacher Cole Holland

Cole Holland is a pianist, composer, performer, and producer from Seattle, WA. The realm of music that he works in ranges from classical, hip-hop, EDM, and new age with an emphasis on writing and production for projects in those genres. He has been playing piano since the age of 3, and composing since the age of 7. In his early years as a musician and pianist, he studied with many teachers, but most notably with Mariya Koshkina at the age of 13, all the way until the age of 18. Between 2008 - 2012, he studied at the Academy of Music Northwest, where he received his core training in composition, music theory, ear training, conducting, music history, and ensemble performance. His instructors included Eric Flesher, Jim Paul, Bradley Hawkins, and Nathan Whittaker. Cole is a recent graduate from Cornish College of the Arts where he completed his Bachelor of Music degree with a focus in music composition.

Cole’s philosophy with music instruction is based upon dedication and innovation. Instead of simply playing the notes within a piece, he helps the student dive deeper to discover the inner language of the music that involves styles within a particular era, harmony language, and interpreting notation in the way it was intended to be performed. Cole makes it a goal to customize every single lesson to the student’s needs, to help them reach their individual goal within music. Even though he does customize every lesson the core of the learning is based upon technique, music theory, and building strong foundation of musical knowledge. Overall, Cole’s main goal as an instructor is to ensure that each student has fun on the instrument and enjoys it with every moment. He feels that if he is able to ensure that the student is able to accomplish this facet on the instrument, everything else will fall into place.

 

Amanda Habner

Voice & Piano Teacher Amanda Habner

Voice and piano teacher Amanda Habner has been teaching for nearly a decade. She began teaching piano at age 15 and discovered her love for teaching. Amanda knew that her true passion was singing, so she pursued a Bachelor of Music degree in Vocal Performance at Concordia College in Moorhead, MN, which she received spring of 2014. She followed that degree with a Master of Music degree in Vocal Performance and Pedagogy (the study of teaching) from Westminster Choir College in Princeton, NJ. A native of Washington State, Amanda decided to return to the west coast upon finishing her studies to begin eagerly teaching music.

Amanda loves to work with all ages and levels. Her teaching philosophy includes building trust between the teacher and student, honing musical and technical aspects of piano and singing, stressing the health of the student, use of appropriate repertoire and learning techniques, emboldening students to perform, create personal opportunities, and becoming self learners, and finally having fun.

Wesley Speight

Wes Speight, a singer/songwriter originally from Tennessee, has played many of the venues in Seattle WA and Nashville TN and has toured to places such as Vancouver BC, Oregon, California, Arizona, New Mexico, Louisville KY, Manchester TN and Manhattan NY. His music varies widely from bluesy to tribal to acoustic rock.

Speight's music career began in his teens, dabbling at piano and drums. He bought his first guitar at 19 and "started writing bad songs right away." He has since become a bit of a musical virtuoso, adding harmonica, bass, synthesizer/keyboard, mandolin, and percussion to his list. He is also a creative film maker who aspires to compose the musical score for a film someday. Music, says Speight, "is my reason."

Speight's first album, Please EP, was released in 2008 under an independent label. Since then he has released 4 more full length albums independently: 2011's Lie & Wish, 2012's Hackneyed and 2014's Transmigration. In addition to teaching guitar, piano, and percussion, Wesley teaches songwriting through the University of Washington Experimental College.

Piano, Guitar, & Drum Teacher Wes Speight

Jeff Kuhns

Piano & Guitar Teacher Jeff Kuhns

Jeff is a multi-instrumentalist. He plays and teaches guitar, piano, voice, and bassoon. He has taught music for the last 15 years. He studied classical guitar, classical piano, opera, and botany at Central Michigan University. Jeff played principal bassoon in the Eastern Michigan University honors band as well as with the Oakland Youth Orchestra. He has recorded two albums professionally and regularly composes new music. 

Jeff considers his teaching style to be relaxed, dynamic, and adaptive. He caters each lesson to the individual student's interests, ability, and learning style. Jeff believes learning and playing music should be an enjoyable experience if not among your favorite activities. Jeff accepts any student from beginner to advanced with interests in any genre. Jeff will challenge you as much as you would like to be challenged.

Evan Woodle

Drum Teacher Evan Woodle

As an alumnus of the University of Washington and Roosevelt High School, Evan Woodle currently pursues music full-time, serving as a driving force behind several bands while working as a private drum instructor. Beyond that, Evan is a co-founder of The Racer Sessions, a weekly free-improvisation series and a forum for cutting-edge composers and performers, as well as a board member of Table & Chairs Music, a record label devoted to the chronicling and advancement of new music in Seattle.

 

 

 

Melanie Plant

Voice & Piano Teacher Mel Plant

Melanie is a classically-trained pianist, and a jazz-pop vocalist with a great love and passion for music. Her piano training started when she was four, and she has many four-year old students now through the academy.

She began singing and performing in musicals when she was twelve, and continued her music and theatrical training through college, receiving many awards and scholarships. After discovering a love for synthesizers, Mel became heavily involved with music production and technology – you can find her working in her studio often! Mel has performed both as a keyboardist and vocally with many bands, choirs and theatrical performances over the years ranging from cover bands, jazz and experimental percussion ensembles and many DJ/MC performances.

Mel uses the Bastien method for her beginning piano students. Mel’s vast knowledge of music theory, and wide range of musical tastes allows her an exceptional ability to tune in to a student’s level and bring excitement and enthusiasm to a lesson. She loves working with children just starting their music education, making lessons exciting and sharing the love of music. Vocal lessons focus on using the body as an instrument – posture, breathwork, and a variety of vocal exercises to strengthen the voice and promote self-confidence in singing. Students are encouraged to examine many styles and genres of music while learning piano or voice.

Michael Leffler

Mike was inspired by drums at a very young age. At age 12 he received a drum set and was able emulate some rock drumming styles. Attending Musicians Institute in 1987 was the starting point of his commitment to himself to improve and be the best player he could be. He Graduated from MI with Honors and started playing with bands and continued to practice many hours a day. By 1994 he was teaching 30 -60 students a week. He has maintained that schedule for 15 years. 


By 1997 Mike was playing live 2- 4 night a week every week.He has played Thousands of shows in his career. Playing live is one of the best teachers; Mike helps students who want to play on stage in front of an audience.


Another significant part of Mike's education was studying the physiology of playing drums (or any musical instrument.) This had a major positive effect on his practice habits and he brings this info to his students in a "short and sweet" manner of explanation.


One of Mike's lesson styles is designed to get you playing from your imagination; improvisation inspired by the sounds you are creating. In that process, Mike will give you important information about how the creative thought becomes reality.  

Mike teaches all drum set concepts, genres, and techniques. He tailors the class to the individual and always welcomes student input.

Piano & Drum Teacher Mike Leffler

April Kim

Piano Teacher April Kim

April Kim's musical journey started when she was 4 years old after her parents realized she was able to repeat melodies on a piano that her nanny had been playing. Ever since, April has devoted countless hours to studying piano under numerous private tutors, college professors, and artists. These experiences have not only helped April learn a wide range of piano playing techniques, styles, and genres, but have equipped her with valuable insights for her true passion, which is teaching piano. Whether someone is new to playing piano, or they want to improve their existing abilities, April is dedicated to helping each student become successful.

April was born and raised in Seoul, Korea. While in gradeschool, she competed in a number of regional piano competitions, and regularly performed in recitals for church and school functions. Her passion for music wasn’t limited to piano – she also played trumpet, sang in choirs, and was a conductor in her high school’s marching band. April has since made Seattle her home, and has been playing, studying, composing, and teaching piano in the Puget Sound region for the past 12 years. Her experience extends across many different types of piano music – Classical, Gospel, Jazz, Pop, R&B, Funk, and Contemporary / Experimental. She is currently studying music at the University of Washington

Dave Smith

Bass & Piano Teacher Dave Smith

Dave Smith studied classical piano at the Cleveland Institute of music before going on to study at the Cincinnati Conservatory of music with a jazz bass performance major. Dave toured around with several bands before settling in NYC for a decade. He moved to Portland with his wife Lisa and son Jack to enjoy a better lifestyle. Dave has been a session player on over 50 records, wrote jingles for many companies including Autozone, Public, Honda, Dominos, and others. He Co-wrote a song with rock legends Blondie and has put out 5 of his own records, two of which he played every instrument as well as mixed. He was a guest teaching artist at the Wingspan arts Academy along with private students. 

 

Dave's first goal in teaching music is to "instill and grow a love for music, learning, and thinking. Everything else will fall into place." Dave tries to teach to each individuals goals and needs. He is highly passionate about music and prefers to teach those that are as well. Dave tries to teach a holistic view of music from how sound is physically produced, to proper technique, to understanding the interplay of many pieces making up the whole... In music and life in general.