News in and around Madison Valley

subscribe to news articles via email or rss

Madison Valley Music Lessons: Sign Up for Fall 2016


Fall 2016 is almost here, and the annual “fall rush” of new students at The Music Factory is right around the corner. We want to make sure that our current and past students get the time slots which are most convenient for their schedules — we love our students like family, and family comes first!

Call 206-420-3896 or fill out the sign-up form on our website, and we’ll do everything we can to ensure that you (or your child) are provided with the widest variety of scheduling options possible. All openings are subject to availability, and supply is limited!




The Music Factory
2832 E. Arthur Place
Seattle, WA 98112
(206) 420-3896


Post a Comment | Topics: Lessons, Music

Group Piano Class for Adults in Madison Valley


Local piano teacher Katie O’Rourke will begin offering group piano classes for beginning adult students starting March 19.

The Benefits of Music

Research has shown that playing an instrument helps build self-confidence, concentration, and memory. More recently, research has also shown that music impacts our overall health. A 2005 study* in the Medical Science Monitor found that group-based music lessons — when not focused on performance or — were found to improve mood states, reduce burnout and reverse the effects of stress at the genomic level. People who don’t currently play music can begin learning at any age through recreational group classes or private lessons designed specifically to fit their learning style.


About the Class

Each class of 4–6 beginning students will be introduced to the fundamentals of piano at a relaxing and fun pace. It’s okay if participants don’t have access to a piano, especially for the first few classes, since practice will not be required. There will be performance opportunities for those eager to share their music, but performing will always be optional. After a brief introduction each group will get to choose class activities that suit their unique interests. All styles of music are open for exploration, including classical, jazz and popular music.

For more information vist Registration is available online or by phone at 405 696-SOLO. The Piano Studio of Katie O’Rourke also offers group classes for children and private lessons for all ages and levels.

* Barry Bitman et al. “Recreational music-making modulates the human stress response: a preliminary individualized gene expression strategy.” Medical Science Montior 11, no 3 (2005), 31-4


Post a Comment | Topics: Lessons, Music

A New Piano Teacher in Madison Valley


The piano studio of Katie O’Rourke recently relocated from Bellingham to Madison Valley near 24th and Aloha Street. 

Katie’s mission is to guide students in a joyful exploration of music through personalized and innovative piano instruction. The curriculum, which places a strong emphasis on physical comfort, note reading and performance, is designed to take students to an advanced level of playing appropriate for college auditions and work as a professional musician. Challenging repertoire also creates an exciting learning environment for adults or children who prefer to play for recreation. Students are encouraged to perform in the Washington State Music Teachers Association Adjudications as well as studio recitals. Group classes provide a fun and inspiring environment for students to practice performing and encourage each other through community.  

Katie has recently attended two workshops in Dalcroze Eurythmics, a system of teaching music that includes movement, singing and improvisation. Through her recent exposure to Dalcroze, and past training in the Taubman technique, Katie has developed a unique set of tools to help students with rhythmic and physical difficulties at the piano. These tools, which include improvisation in the classical style as well as free improvisation, provide an opportunity for students to release tension and to naturally internalize rhythm in their bodies. Katie aims to create a comfortable learning environment where new challenges always feel approachable and achievable. 

Katie is a Nationally Certified Teacher of Music and has a B.A. in Piano Performance from Western Washington University, where she studied piano with Milica Jovanovic and Jeffrey Gilliam. She also has an additional 5 years of private study with Jeffrey Gilliam with an emphasis in playing mechanics and technique. Katie served as pianist for the Whatcom Symphony Orchestra, and collaborated with groups such as Skagit Opera, Whatcom Wind Ensemble and Bellingham Chamber Orchestra. 

Katie can be reached by email or phone: 253-905-9090.


Post a Comment | Topics: Lessons, Music

A New Piano Studio Comes to Madison Valley

JUNE 11, 2014 | EDITOR

LaFond Piano Studio has just recently moved from Monroe into our neighborhood. The Studio is located near E. John St. and 26th Ave E.

The program is a rigorous, multi-faceted course tailored for each student. Rachel's teaching style aims to develop independent thinking and creative self-development. She places a strong focus on healthy technical and physical development, as well as emotional connection and interpretation of the music. Each student has a practice requirement agreement and will perform in at least four recitals a year, as well as audition through the National Guild of Piano Teachers, and adjudications through the Music Teacher's National Association. Other performance and competition opportunities are available to qualified students.


Rachel LaFond began teaching in 1995. She has studied with Professor Manfred Wagner-Artzt at the University of Vienna, Dr. Peter Mack of Cornish College of the Arts, Dr. Regina Yeh of the University of Washington and Madame Sandra Zegzula, M. M. Piano Pedagogy. She earned her Bachelor of Arts in piano performance, voice, and applied music from the University of Washington. Rachel is an active performing musician in the local community as well as a participating member in the National Guild of Piano Teachers and the Music Teacher’s National Association at the local, state and national levels. She actively pursues professional enrichment and continuing education, passing on her excitement and knowledge to her students and student teachers.

For more information, visit and contact the studio via phone or email.


Post a Comment | Topics: Classes, Lessons

Spectrum Dance Theater Executive Director Retires

JUNE 17, 2013 | EDITOR

Spectrum Dance Theater Executive Director Susie Purves announced her resignation today in order to pursue independent projects. She will remain at Spectrum through July 2013 to support the organization through this transition. 

“Spectrum Dance Theater is a phenomenal organization that combines the intensity and depth of Donald Byrd’s choreography and artistic leadership, the artistry and dedication of a top contemporary dance company and a dance school with high expectations from its teachers and students. There is no other organization like it in the entire state and I’m happy to have been associated with everyone here for the past three years.” 

Purves joined Spectrum as Executive Director in 2010. During her tenure the organization made the leap into non-traditional performance space, increased the size of the professional company that toured nationally and abroad (as part of DanceMotion USA, a U.S. State Department program), expanded the school staff and made critical administrative improvements that enable Spectrum to approach its financial potential.

“Susie has been a great asset to Spectrum Dance Theater and has worked very hard on behalf of the organization,” says Spectrum Board President Wayne Thurman. “She is very personable and has been very good to work with. We will miss her. I speak for the whole board when I thank her for her service and wish her success in her next venture.”

Spectrum Dance Theater has finished its last two fiscal years in strong shape and looks forward to a solid financial future.

The Spectrum Board of Directors is initiating an executive search immediately.



Spectrum Dance Theater was founded in Seattle, Washington, in 1982. Its mission is to produce and present contemporary dance of global caliber that challenges expectations and calls forth strong emotions and thoughtful responses; to provide expert dance instruction in diverse dance forms to all; and to educate the community about dance as an art form and as a social/civic instrument.

Please visit the Spectrum Dance Theater website for:

Detailed bio of Donald Byrd

Video clips 

Press and reviews

 For more information, please contact Rebecca Pirwitz, Marketing and Communications Manager.

Spectrum Dance Theater
800 Lake Washington Blvd
Seattle, WA 98122  
(206) 325-4161

Post a Comment | Topics: Lessons, Music

5 Secrets to Becoming a Little Bit French!

MAY 7, 2013 | EDITOR

French native and local resident Virginie Blackmoor is offering a free introduction to the French language and culture at Luc restaurant.

Virginie has been teaching the French language for ten years in Europe and the US. She uses a natural learning method of role-playing and immersion in French culture and cuisine.

In describing her approach, she says, “I offer a different experience with both the French language and the culture of France. I use a great deal of caring and humor, which I have come to realize is an incredibly helpful learning tool. When you are relaxed, happy and connected, you open up, everything just sinks in and, most important, stays there.”

“Learning something new as an adult can be humbling, so my priority is to make you feel good about yourself. I do this by helping you focus on the positive while having fun. I’ve found that encouragement and kindness do wonders for everyone.”

You can sign up for the events at her website or phone her at 206 617-2716.


Logo French TrulyIntro

The best way to learn the French language is to explore and immerse yourself in French culture. French Truly invites you to go beyond the language and enjoy fascinating French experiences.

  • Improve your French through playful events
  • Explore the incredibly rich French culture  
  • Discover and enjoy delicious French food and wine

With French Truly, you can become a little bit French!

Move away from the standard language school format and come with us to enjoy a truly fun and fully comprehensive real French life experience, regardless of your level.


Virginie Teaching Class


1-French Discovery Group

Welcome to our free French Discovery group, designed to help you find out what French Truly is all about. Join us for conversation, play and tons of fun.

Who? Everybody welcome, regardless of language level

When? Every last Friday of the month from 11:30 am to 1 pm

Where? LUC - French restaurant in Seattle

This is a onetime experience only.


2-French Hands-on Experience

In this 1.5-hour class, we spend the first half learning theory and then we spend the second half putting it into practice through role-play. This is not only incredibly fun and bonding, it is also the best way to remember the theory. French food and drinks are included to provide more inspiration.

French Hands-on Example:

Let’s pretend we are learning what to do and say in a French restaurant, from the moment you enter to the moment you leave. Person A is the customer and person B plays the waiter. A and B play their roles covering all sorts of topics, from inquiring whether a table is booked, to asking about the food and ordering, to dealing with problems and paying the check. We always have a lot of fun playing this way and it is amazing how much you retain when you are truly involved in a scenario, rather than just listening to a teacher and taking notes.

Who? Beginner but welcome intermediate people looking for a brush up!

When? Every Thursday starting in June 2013, from 11:30 am to 1 pm

Where? French Restaurant LUC in Madison Valley Seattle


3-French Conversation

In this 1.5-hour guided conversation group, everybody gets a chance to speak about themselves and a chosen topic, and to ask other speakers questions. Unlike other conversation groups, our group offers themed topics to make sure everybody gets their say along with clear guidance and yummy French food and drinks. I am there to keep everyone on track, answer questions and clarify vocabulary, grammar or idiom issues as they arise.

Who? Intermediate but great for beginners looking for a helpful challenge!

When? Every Saturday starting in June 2013, from 10 am to 11:30 am

Where? French Restaurant LUC in Madison Valley Seattle


4-French Story Platform

The purpose of this event is to use a culturally rich French drama, documentary or set of interviews as a platform to discover and discuss French culture. I use a projector and big screen to give you a real cinema feel while practicing both listening and speaking skills. In each session, we learn about a certain era, event, region or artist, enjoying a completely new topic each week.

Sample Topics:

  • The artists of the Belle Époque and how their works matched the political and social events of their time
  • The rise of feminism in the twentieth century and its direct influences on fashion
  • The historical and culinary particularities of Provence
  • Great French icons and how they impacted the French people

Who? All levels welcome!

When? Every last Thursday of the month starting in June 2013, from 6:30pm

Where? To be confirmed


5-French Field Trip

Come and venture on a French Field Trip with our French community. Each time, we go on a different adventure to somewhere interesting and lively that gives us a wonderful opportunity to bond, practice our French, learn lots of new things and, most important, have fun!

Imagine spending a Sunday morning at Pike Place Market, stopping by the flowers, fruits and vegetables, describing everything we do and see in French, as if we were at a French market.

When we are done strolling, why not go to one of the nearby French cafes or boulangeries, eat a pain au chocolat, drink a chocolat chaud and chat? Very French!

For more information, please contact me directly. The price varies depending on our destination.


Virginie Blackmoor Large


Post a Comment | Topics: Lessons

Suzuki Violin Instruction

MARCH 16, 2013 | EDITOR

Suzuki violin teacher, Jen Kovarovic, is currently accepting new and committed students into her studio, Suzuki by the Sound. Jen offers an intensive program of weekly individual lessons and group classes for beginners. Her studio is committed to the ideals and principles of the Suzuki approach. For more information, please visit her website:

Post a Comment | Topics: Lessons, Music