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Piano Lesson


Kristen Chen

Bachelor of Music, Piano Performance, Biola University

Masters of Music, Piano Performance, San Jose State University

Certified Suzuki Instructor, Suzuki Association of the Americas

Music in the Box Instructor

I began studying the piano at the age of 6 and the violin at 8. Music was a very important part of my life from childhood and I always had an inner sense that I would be a musician. I was one of those kids who never had to be told to practice. There was never any other path for me, only music!

I studied with Jerri Lee Owen at Biola University with a major in piano performance. While there, I played the viola in the orchestra and sang with the Biola Chorale. There, I also accompanied a men’s traveling singing group which was loads of fun as we sang at churches in the Los Angeles area and toured the coast of Oregon. My life at Biola was immersed in music, with 30 hours per week spent in rehearsal alone. I loved every minute. 

Upon graduation from Biola, I returned home to San Jose and began teaching piano. I soon learned of the Suzuki Method and was immediately hooked. I completed my teacher training at Holy Names College (Oakland, CA), Southern CA Suzuki Institute, and the Colorado Suzuki Institute at Snowmass, CO. My most influential teachers were Rita Hauck and Caroline Frazer. 

After a few years teaching under my belt and a wedding, I felt the itch  to go back and get my Masters Degree. I studied with Dr. Laurel Brettell at San Jose State University with a major in piano performance. I graduated, pregnant, and then welcomed our first daughter into the world a few months later. 

I have been teaching Suzuki piano since 1993 (with a few years off while having babies) and fully believe in the Suzuki Approach to learning. My philosophy echoes Dr. Suzuki’s: “Where love is present, much can be accomplished.” My expectations are high, but I’m willing to give as much as I expect. I do not believe in the idea of ‘just trying it out (music lessons)” or “we are just doing this for fun.” It’s actually NOT FUN to be involved in something, but not work hard at it.  (Of course, this looks very different for a 3-5 year old than it does for a 16 year old!) So, I expect my students to commit to their lessons and practice, knowing that this will bring deep joy and a sense of satisfaction.

I accept students as young as 3 years old. We gather for 3-4  informal recitals at my home during the year. I also highly encourage my students to participate in the Young Artists Festival in February, the Bach Festival Recital in March, and the TAP program in May (through the Four Corners Music Teachers’ Association) as well as the week-long Piano Academy through Fort Lewis College in June. 

My main focus in teaching is classical, using the Suzuki materials as well as many supplements. For young students, I teach pre-reading/reading from the beginning (rather than strictly ear-training). I am big on all the nitty-gritty of scales and chords and music theory, because it makes everything else so much easier! 

Most of all, I want my students to develop a genuine love for music whether they end up on stage or in the audience. For me, it’s an honor and a privilege to be a part of a child’s life and to share my passion for  music and beauty. 

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