The Peery Elite

The Peery Elite are those students who conquered the 'intermediate slog' by staying involved with piano and Peery Academy through 12th grade either through taking lessons, teaching or both.  They are some of the shining examples of what a Peery student is and can be.

  Will Alexander

  Years at Peery:  2007-2016

  Immediately After Peery:  Attended UC Berkeley

  Currently: Just starting his Senior year at UC Berkeley where he is a double major in economics and political science. Will will be working in San Francisco this summer as an investment banking analyst with Mizuho's technology group and intends to pursue banking as a full-time career once he graduates. 

  Peery Memories and Meaning: I have very fond memories of my time at Peery. Although I was far from the best at practicing or performing, I think my favorite part of Peery was how there were so many ways to pursue one's interest in music. I heard many of my friends complain about their experiences with piano lessons, which is something I never shared because the Peery curriculum was so diverse that I always found something I enjoyed. I was still well prepared for the annual tests which was what mattered to my mom, but for the rest of the year, I could learn choice pieces, play hymns, learn chord progressions or play jazz. Additionally, I think the opportunity to become a teacher was a fantastic way to gain a greater appreciation for music. Teaching really clicked for me, and getting to work with the younger students and see their progression over the years was an incredibly rewarding experience.

  Caroline Wu

  Years at Peery: 2003-2015

  Immediately After Peery:  Attended Carnegie Mellon University, with a Major in computer science and Minor in music

  Peery Memories and Meaning: As a shy and introverted person, teaching piano at Peery helped me learn how to open up and interact with people of all ages! I used the communication and interpersonal skills that I gained to be a more effective teaching assistant and vocal music club leader.



  Henry Smolen

  Years at Peery: 2003-2016

  Immediately After Peery:  Attended The Juilliard School as a Piano Performance Major

  Peery Memories and Meaning: What I most have taken away from my time studying with Mrs. Skousen at Peery, as well as the musical ideas and approaches to listening and playing music she has given me, is the ability and knowledge of how to practice concisely and correctly, and the ability to make myself listen to my own playing, in a way that I would never have been able to alone.



  Amy Tsang

  Years at Peery:  2002-2013

  Immediately After Peery:  Attended UCSB

  Peery Memories and Meaning: I have loved being a part of Peery Piano Academy for the past 19 years. After high school graduation, I attended University of California, Santa Barbara and have since returned back to the Bay Area. I feel so blessed to continue teaching at PPA after graduating. Music, in general, has taught me discipline, hard work, and dedication. However, being a part of the Peery community has shown me the effects that encouragement and perseverance have on young students. Having started teaching at a young age, my students were able to immediately relate to my teaching style and I was able to relate to their struggles. We laugh together when I tell them that I used to cry during practice too and that sight reading was also hard for me at their age. At Peery, the teachers are amazing, award-winning pianists, but we're also passionate about giving back to this community and uplifting young students who feel discouraged. These young students can see other students at all levels play during our recitals and see where their piano journey is headed. Peery has an incredible sense of family within our students and staff that is rare to find. I love sharing my passion for music with my students and it's exciting to see them blossom in their own journeys.

  Anne Blotter

  Years at Peery:  2006-2018

  Immediately After Peery:  Attended Utah State University in the BFA Acting program

  Peery Memories and Meaning: In my time at Peery, I learned the value of consistent, hard work. Now I am able to turn to piano and music as a relief, an outlet, and a pass time, but it took many years of not so relaxing or fulfilling practice to reach that point. I am so glad I stuck with piano because I am now able to use those skills for my own personal enjoyment as well as to contribute to musical endeavors in community, church, and education settings. My work at the piano over the years has helped me see that though results are not always immediate, practice and diligent work will pay off and result in rich benefits. I am grateful for the skills Peery gave me, piano related and character related, that have helped launch me into this new stage of life! 


  Jamie Cleron

  Years at Peery:  2007-2017

  Immediately After Peery:  Attended Yale as a chemistry major

  Peery Memories and Meaning: My Peery training gave me a strong base of technique and musicality that has allowed me to thoroughly enjoy music after high school. In college, I’ve played in chamber music groups and pit orchestras, and I’m so grateful for all of Mrs. Skousen’s guidance that taught me discipline, work ethic, and a love of music.


  Laura Salvaggio

  Years at Peery:  2006-2018

  Immediately After Peery:  Attended University of British Columbia - Vancouver

  Peery Memories and Meaning: I am very grateful for both the piano skills and personal values that I learned throughout my time with Peery. Although I was not always the best with practicing, my experience at Peery allowed me to discover and nurture a love for music and performing.  Recitals taught me the importance of setting a goal and persevering, and how to stay calm and perform under pressure, all of which have carried through to other aspects of my life. As I grew older, playing piano became more than just pressing keys but also an emotional experience for me, so I vowed to stick with it, even when life got especially busy. I now play piano with a performance club at my university, and I don't believe music would be such a big part of my life if it weren't for Peery.  


  Jasmine Stoy

  Years at Peery:  2002-2012

  Immediately After Peery:  Attended UC Berkeley with a major in Business

  Peery Memories and Meaning: My greatest takeaway from my piano study is that with enough discipline and persistence, you can achieve your goals. Conversely, if you lack practice, you shouldn't expect things to come easily. I try to apply this mindset whenever I'm frustrated because I don't pick things up as quickly as I would like and remind myself that I'm capable because I've done it before when I was younger practicing piano!


  Shuan Tang

  Years at Peery:  2002-2012

  Immediately After Peery:  Attended University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign

  Peery Memories and Meaning: My time at Peery has taught me discipline and diligence. My defining moment: when I was 7, in response to my sloppy playing in my haste to expedite the learning process, Christie told me that there is no substitute for hard work, no elevator to success, just steps. I learned to take challenging pieces, and break them down into manageable next steps. Peery Piano trained me how to think, how to tackle a problem to reach my goal. This framework and mentality has helped me excel both in college and now at work.


  Jenna Atkinson

  Years at Peery:  2008-2015

  Immediately After Peery:  Attended Brigham Young University Provo for a Computer Science degree with minors in Business and Design

  Peery Memories and Meaning: I felt like Peery was a family to me. I loved my Habits students and I will always be thankful for the person I became through teaching. I learned more than just Piano; I learned the skills that allowed me to tackle any problem by breaking it down, and practicing it. I would not be the person I am today without Peery.


  Hazel Skousen

  Years at Peery:  2006-2018

  Immediately After Peery:  Attended Brigham Young University majoring in Neuroscience

  Peery Memories and Meaning: I had the best class ever with Anne and Laura (and Rohan at the end). One of our greatest hits was Love Song.  My performance of Chopin's Waltz in A minor was legendary because I worked on it for 3 years straight. At Peery I learned the power of good process and how to prioritize and balance my time. I also gained an appreciation just for being able to play the piano and the importance of efficient and effective practicing. Peery is the best! I loved my lessons, I loved teaching, and I loved being able to work at and improve so consistently.


Abraham Wilson

  Years at Peery:  2007-2009

  Immediately After Peery:  Studied piano performance at BYU

  Peery Memories and Meaning: I loved playing during the masterclasses - we had lots of fun making mistakes together, and it was a very supportive crowd. Now as I look back at that time, however, I realize that having Christie continually push me to pay attention to every detail and how I sound has been one of the important life lessons I have gleaned from my years behind the keyboard that I try put into practice with my family and at work.


Rohan Katpally

  Years at Peery:  2009-2019

  Immediately After Peery:  Attending UCSB for Chemical Engineering

  Peery Memories and Meaning: Nothing passes time like doing something you love! My time at Peery was instrumental (pun intended) in shaping my work ethic and my musicality. All the time I've spent in class with Mrs. Skousen and at home breaking down pieces that felt far beyond my abilities has taught me that perseverance and a love for the music I was learning make practice feel equally enjoyable as performing the piece itself. As YouTube keeps throwing fantastic new pieces at me to learn, it's the methods of practicing that I learned at Peery that have helped me explore a vast range of music, from Bach Preludes and Liszt's Totentanz on piano to string quartets, orchestral music, and symphonic music on viola.


Maya Chawla

  Years at Peery:  2008-2021

  Immediately After Peery:  Attending UC Berkeley

  Peery Memories and Meaning: My time at Peery has been full of personal highs and lows: both rewarding practices and disappointing lessons, stellar performances and memorably lacking ones, too. And yet no matter the challenge, Peery has taught me to persevere, to remain determined, to practice patience, grit, thoughtfulness, attention to detail—skills I will invariably use for the rest of my life. I’ll forever be thankful for the time I’ve had at Peery and the people I’ve been so lucky to work with (most notably Amy and Christie!). Peery Piano has shaped who I am today & I will miss it all so much!!  


Jonathan Pal

  Years at Peery:  2018-2020

  Immediately After Peery:  Attended Notre Dame majoring in Physics and Math

  Peery Memories and Meaning: In my (albeit short) time at Peery, I really gained an appreciation for the interplay of the more technical side of piano and the more artistic side of piano. Prior to working with the Peery instructors, I didn't really understand exactly how those two went together, but through my time at Peery, I really gained an appreciation for how those two sides of piano are both very complementary to each other. That really elevated my approach to piano and has made me much better in practice and in performance.



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At Peery Piano Academy our mission is to offer the highest quality musical and process training to teachers and students.  We believe that quality training empowers students and teachers and makes possible all that music and life have to offer.