I was born and raised on my family's farm in Washington County, NY. I was drawn to music at a young age and continued my love for sharing music with others by earning a degree in Music Education from the University of Vermont, with a minor in Special Education. My concentration was in Classical Voice and I dreamed of being a Choral Conductor.
My first two years after college were comprised of creating and implementing a high school chorus program and co-directing theater productions at a rural school in northern VT; acting as a conducting intern for Bella Voce Women’s Chorus of Vermont; working as the Operations Assistant for the Vermont Youth Orchestra Association; singing in a 15-piece funk band; and volunteering as Choral Chair of the Vermont Music Educator’s Association (VMEA). The VMEA awarded me with the title “Outstanding New Music Educator” in 2009.
I left my teaching job in VT to travel, and since 2009 I have driven across the USA twice and have traveled to India, Ireland, and Italy (and other parts of Europe) with my ears and eyes wide open. I have always loved music from around the world, especially music from West Africa. I started studying the djembe and doundouns in 2014 and teaching the technique and traditions around the music in 2015.
Rural Soul Studio itself started as a little written seed in my journal on a long return train ride from New Orleans, LA to Albany, NY. I was coming back from a visit with dear friends in NOLA and had a beautiful stroke of inspiration to create some kind of music school back in my hometown. The words on the paper sprang to life when I met Katy Svatek, another music educator, at a function at Seventy Main in Greenwich, NY. She had also moved back to her home town after being away to study, teach and travel. (Fun fact: Katy and I went to nursery school together. That meet up at Seventy Main was our first time reconnecting after 20 years!)
We hatched the Rural Soul plan that very evening: to create a center for music that would complement and directly support music programming in local schools and community centers. With time, a priority would be offering musical opportunities in programs that were not easily accessible in these somewhat remote, rural areas.
Rural Soul Studio got its start in two rooms in the front of Seventy Main, 70 Main Street, Greenwich (below Align Again Yoga) in May 2012, offering private and small group lessons for piano, voice, guitar, brass, woodwinds and strings. Thanks to the building owners, John Shoemaker and Zaidee Bliss, Katy and I were able to test out and hone our new entrepreneurial skills in a safe and welcoming environment.
As more lessons inquiries came through, other instructors were invited to teach at Rural Soul Studio. Music and art camps, birthday parties and classes on other instruments (banjo, African drums) were also hosted in the building. The space started to feel a bit small for all that the music instructors wanted to offer, so I opened a second studio in Schuylerville in the beautiful Bullard Block on Broad Street in September 2013. This larger studio space allowed for bigger group classes and more creativity!
In June 2015 we closed up the Greenwich studio and focused all musical energy into 90 Broad Street, Schuylerville. The studio now hosts multiple music instructors, with several additional master musicians and teachers passing through during the year. All of the goods - music and arts camps, birthday parties and other music workshops - are also offered in Rural Soul Studio's current home.
In October 2018 Rural Soul officially became Rural Soul Music Studio, LLC. In June 2021, after a few months of renovations in the studio, EarthBeat Music Shop was established as a new pop up shop. And on we go!