NWSM Music Instructors
Executive Director, Northwest School of Music
Instructor of Piano
Mrs. Mallory Huerta began taking private music lessons at the age of 8, and continued training through her elementary school and high school careers. This eventually led to a Bachelor of Music at Eastern Oregon University, majoring in music and minoring in theatre. She has always been musically inclined with structured training in both Voice and Piano. Ms. Huerta has also had the pleasure of dabbling in violin, clarinet, bass clarinet, alto, tenor and baritone saxophone, guitar and various African drums such as the djembe and dunun. She has received training in vocal and piano performance, technique, music theory, music history, and pedagogy.
Teaching music consistently since 2007-2008, she brings skill and expertise to every music lesson. She enjoys working with all ages, but now specializes in children three to six years old. Ms. Huerta teaches with a classical focus, and incorporates solid music theory training, technique, classical repertoire, performance, and music history into training with each student.
Mrs. Huerta considers tailored teaching to each student’s learning style of utmost importance – for every individual is different. She ensures to explain and demonstrates each concept in a variety of ways that each specific student can connect and understand.
Instructor of Violin & Piano
Michelle Reed began studying the violin seventeen years ago in elementary school orchestra. After quickly falling in love with the voice of this instrument, she pursued private instruction, and constantly sought out more opportunities to play. Over the years this led to her involvement in several Klamath Falls string quartets and trios, performance in the Klamath Symphony, the Ross Ragland Theatre Pit Orchestra, and the Western Oregon Symphony. In her musical pursuits Ms. Reed felt compelled to further her piano abilities as well, and started taking both private and group lessons, and expanded this practice in college aided by aural skills and theory classes.
Ms. Reed began receiving requests to teach private lessons in Klamath Falls in 2011, and started gaining experience assistant teaching in orchestra classrooms throughout the Klamath Falls City Schools District. Through all of this, and after instructing a variety of violin classes at the Klamath Symphony Summer String Camp for three consecutive summers, Ms. Reed quickly developed a deep passion for teaching. She went on to direct this camp in 2013, 2018, and is excited to be preparing the camp for 2019!
Since finishing her Bachelor of Arts from Western Oregon University in 2015, Ms. Reed has moved to Salem and spends her days Substitute Teaching for the Salem-Keizer School District, teaching Orchestra at Abiqua Academy, and currently plays in the Salem Philharmonia, the Rainy Day Quartet, and the touring orchestral-rock band Yaquina Bay.
Above all else, Ms. Reed believes in exploring the full range and power of the violin, and strives to understand each student’s individual strengths and struggles with this instrument. In her lessons she prioritizes helping each student develop a personal sense of musicality through exposure to a generous variety of styles and sounds. Ms. Reed intends to inspire dedication through meaningful practice, helping students establish essential technical foundations, a well-rounded understanding of musical concepts, and a passion to reach new goals each week, month, and year!
“Don’t only practice your art, but force your way into its secrets; art deserves that, for it and knowledge can raise man to the divine.” -Ludwig Van Beethoven
Instructor of Piano
Melody Morrison is a recent graduate of the Masters in Piano Performance and Pedagogy program at University of Idaho’s Lionel Hampton School of Music. During her time at U of I, Morrison won the 2016-17 University of Idaho Concerto Competition and the 2016-17 Washington-Idaho Symphony’s Young Artist Competition. As a result, Melody was given the opportunity to perform with the Washington Idaho Symphony as a guest soloist during the 2017-18 concert season.
Melody also holds a Bachelor of Science in Piano Performance from Corban University in Salem, OR. During the course of her undergraduate study at Corban, she served as pianist and percussionist in Jazz Band, assistant principal second violinist in Chamber Orchestra, and accompanist for Chamber Choir. She also appeared as a guest soloist with the Corban University Concert Band and was a recipient of the 2016 Music Performance Award. Melody holds much accompanying experience, and enjoys collaborating with all types of instrumentalists and ensembles. Melody enjoys performing in all venues and plays solo, duo, and jazz ensemble gigs across the state.
Ms. Morrison has been playing piano since the age of five and has been teaching private lessons since 2011. Melody uses all of her past and present musical experiences to enhance her teaching in creative approaches and aims for each student to learn about and love music, while having fun along the way. She has taught students ages ranging anywhere from ages 3-70 and has taught styles from baroque to modern pop.
Melody believes in continual growth as a teacher and musician and is currently taking lessons from Dr. Thomas Otten. In August 2018, she participated in Chetham’s Summer School for Pianists in Manchester, UK, where she received classes from master teachers from around the world.
Melody also values professional development and is an active member of MTNA (Music Teachers National Association) and serves as the Membership Chair of the Oregon state division. Additionally, she is in the process of becoming a Nationally Certified Teacher of Music (NCTM). Melody has also presented at various conferences across the country and is presenting a poster session titled “The Education, Experience, and Enjoyment of Jazz in Piano Lessons” at the MTNA National Conference in March 2019. In addition to this, Melody is involved in several piano teaching forums and associations where she shares ideas with other teachers across the world and attempts to keep up with the latest trends and discoveries in piano pedagogy.
Instructor of Guitar & Cello
Trevor Fischer is a composition and instrumental performance major at WOU, and possess nine years of musical experience on the cello and guitar. Throughout his years of involvement in music, Trevor has played in All City Orchestra, Salem Youth Symphony, Salem Philharmonia Orchestra, and has been inducted into the International Thespian Society for his contribution to the musicals put on by McKay High School. Trevor also has experience playing bass guitar, baroque guitar, baroque cello, ukulele, violin, mandolin, and piano, and has played music genres spanning from classical and metal, to jazz and samba.
Trevor currently plays guitar in an alternative band (The Ferenjis), and aspires to compose and arrange music for films like Interstellar and Whiplash, while still expanding his knowledge of music theory and performance skills. He hopes not only to pass on his knowledge to his students, but also wants to inspire the youth to find their voice within music to create a personalized relationship with art. Whether the student wants to master repertoire, write their own song, or learn a song for fun, Trevor plans to provide the essential tools to make it happen.
Instructor of Piano
Jake Cokeley began studying classical piano in 1993 while finishing high school in New Haven, CT. At that time, he also studied music theory and composition at Yale University. These early experiences gave Jake a strong foundation throughout his musical career. He spent many years in Chicago where he wrote and performed music for a small three piece group.
In 2004, Jake moved to Tiennen Belgium where he also played with several small groups for about three years: before returning to the States in 2007. Jake began teaching locally a little under two years ago. He is currently completing an undergraduate degree in Composition at Western Oregon University. He plans to continue his education by pursuing a graduate degree as well as maintaining a healthy studio of individual students with private lessons.
Instructor of Piano
Choir is an integral part of Ethan Keleher’s music life; he was a part of the choir program throughout his high school career. While in Symphonic Choir, Ethan was a section leader, part-time accompanist, and directed the choir on occasion. At his Homecoming Assembly he directed the choir for the school of two-thousand students. In the vocal jazz group, Twilighters, he worked hard in becoming co-president. As High School came to an end, the school principal, Tony Vicknair, represented him to the McMinnville division of the Rotary Club as the recipient of the “Outstanding Vocal Musician” award.
In High School, Mr. Keleher played for the McMinnville Symphonic Choir at Graduation junior year and has participated in a number of productions hosted by the Gallery Theatre in McMinnville, OR. He now performs regularly at Western Oregon University with the Western Oregon Voices and Western Oregon Chamber Singers. At WOU, Ethan also works as a pianist for student recitals and accompanies Voice juries.
Through humble beginnings in being primarily self taught, his drive for music became purely out of passion. Other educators Ethan has worked with include: Elizabeth Hall, Elizabeth Pullen, Robin Pederson, Dana Libonati, Cindy Dicken, Dr. Cassio Vianna, Dr. Claire Hudkins and Dr. James Reddan.
As a teacher, Ethan aims to inspire passion in his students through: aural skills, general technique and basic music theory. Ethan’s passion for music is what drives and connects him to others.
Instructor of Voice
Brandon Franko is a graduate student at Western Oregon University. He has a bachelors degree in vocal performance and audio production, and is currently working on his masters degree in vocal performance focusing in jazz and pop music. Brandon has had a love for music from a very young age and this has led to him being involved in choral and jazz choirs since 2005, as well as being involved in his own private voice lessons since 2010. He has received several different awards throughout school and music festival attendance. Some of these awards include Outstanding Choir Member, Outstanding Audio Engineer, and his latest, Outstanding Musicianship at the 2019 Reno Jazz Festival.
Brandon’s years of being involved in choir have allowed him to travel and perform in places such as Alaska, Ukraine, Budapest, and Rio de Janeiro. His involvement in music has also allowed him to work with people such as Jennifer Madsen, Greg Jasperse, Peter Eldridge, and Sara Gazarek. He also had the opportunity to be a background singer for the great Allen Toussaint.
In his free time, Brandon likes to compose and arrange his own music, as well as professionally record for himself and others. He has recorded several songs of his own and has been the recording engineer behind some other local artists’ projects.
Brandon has received training in vocal performance, recording studio performance, music history, choral literature, ethnomusicology, music theory, vocal technique, improvisation, and listening skills/aural musicianship. He brings all of these features to every lesson and tailors each one carefully so it is catered to the students’ wants and needs. He is a firm believer that confidence and fun are two major keys to performing, and pledges to give his students whatever they need in order to feel confident and have fun on stage.
Instructor of Trumpet, Guitar, & Ukulele
Kailey VanOcker has been involved in music since she was very young. Beginning piano lessons at five years old, her interests expanded into the guitar and trumpet when she entered middle school. Through grades 6-12, she participated in several ensembles, and performed at various jazz festivals including the Lionel Hampton Jazz Fest in Moscow, Idaho.
Kailey attended college at Eastern Oregon University. While there, she took private trumpet, guitar, and vocal lessons. Kailey also performed in many musical groups including brass quintets, women’s choir, drum line, jazz ensemble, percussion ensemble, and bluegrass ensemble.
Besides giving music lessons at NWSM, Kailey is currently involved in a music project called Sum People. She is also working on obtaining an MFA in creative writing.