School of Fine Arts

Mervin Machuca

Director School of Fine Arts

Mervin is a native Houstonian who started his passion for music at the young age of 15. He taught himself to play the piano before seeking out other means to help develop and enhance his musical skills. He has been playing piano/keys for over 17 years with emphasis in Jazz. Throughout the years, he has taken the roles of Music Director, Audio/Media Director, Co-Producer, Piano Instructor as well as a gigging musician playing in the Houston area. Teaching is a passion that motivates him to pass down what he has learned thru his experience. Besides playing and teaching, he enjoys working as an Audio Engineer for private and corporate events. He currently resides in Katy, TX with his wife and two kids.

Sarah Bouse

Piano Teacher

Sarah Bouse started teaching piano when she was 14 years old under the direction of her private piano teacher in Indianapolis, Indiana. Her love for teaching and performing encouraged her to attend Belmont University, where she was able to double major in piano performance and piano pedagogy. She also completed aSpanish language minor. Her diverse background in these three areas of study prepared her well for graduate school. Sarah graduated magna cum laude from Belmont University in 2013, after which she moved to Houston, Texas to attend Rice University. Sarah completed a Master of Music in Vocal Coaching degree at the Shepherd School of Music at Rice University in May 2016. She was privileged to study under Thomas Jaber, who continues to influence her teaching and performing. This unique program is designed to teach pianists how to coach opera singers in their diction, musicality, and acting. She loved her time at Rice and was fortunate to perform in over twenty recitals and productions during her time there. Sarah was privileged to represent Rice University and make her Kennedy Center debut in the Conservatory Project concert in Washington, D.C. in February 2016.

Sarah has had the opportunity to work at Interlochen Center for the Arts in northern Michigan for three summers as a Piano Teaching Assistant. This prestigious fine arts camp provided a wonderful opportunity for Sarah to put her pedagogy knowledge to good use. She worked with students ranging in age from eight to eighteen years old and was able to teach group classes, coach ensembles, and supervise practice hours. Not only was this great teaching experience, but Sarah also loved spending time on the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, and enjoyed getting to know other musicians from around the world.

Sarah’s interests are not confined to music study. Through the language department at Rice University, she was able to study Italian in Genoa, Italy, for a month in summer 2014. She was thrilled to return to Italy in the summer of 2015 for three months to continue to refine her language skills through two different study abroad programs and travel. In the summers of 2016 and 2017, Sarah was both staff pianist and assistant director at an opera program in Lucca, Italy. She loved continuing to learn and grow as a musician while also teaching singers about the Italian language. Of course, Sarah also indulged in the other beautiful parts of Italian culture - coffee, art, and delicious food!

Isaias Gil

Drums Teacher

Hailing from Acapulco, Mexico. via Houston, Texas, drummer Isaias Gil has been making his rhythmic impact felt. He has been featured in The Houston Chronicle, Rumbo Magazine and on Fox 26 Houston. Isaias won 1st place in 2010 at the prestigious Guitar Center Drum Off and has been spotlighted in Modern Drummer Magazine.

Isaias’ list of studio and stage collaborations include recording for multi-Grammy winner Macy Gray under the production of Keith Harris (The Black Eyed Peas) as well as with punk-rock band Sirens and Bombshells, Christian rock group The Last Creation, Christian singers Danilo Montero, Coalo Zamorano, Harold Guerra, Josue Del Cid, electronic group Skandalon, Latin band Mango Punch and Grammy Winner Marcos Witt. The stylistic range of these artists highlight his versatility. Isaias has also shared the stage with Travis Barker (Blink 182), +44, and Stephen Perkins (Jane’s Addiction).

Besides recording and performance, Isaias also has a passion for education and has worked as a music instructor at Grace Community Church, Instituto CanZion-Houston and Second Baptist’s School of Performing Arts.

He has procured endorsements from Vater Drumtsticks, Q-Drums, Evans Drum Heads, Puresound, Ultimate Ears, Ahead Armor Cases and Meinl Cymbals and has been featured at Meinl’s renowned annual Drum Fest.

Isaias plans to continue his involvement in the music industry and dominating the world one groove at a time.

Melinda Harrison

Voice Teacher

Melinda Harrison, soprano, holds a Bachelor of Music degree in Voice Performance and Music Education from Ithaca College in New York and a Master of Music degree in Voice Performance and Pedagogy from The University of Houston. As an active music educator, vocal pedagogue, and performer, Melinda enjoys teaching students of all ages and skill levels, and holds New York State Teacher Certification. She currently serves as Adjunct Professor of Voice at Lone Star College in Tomball, TX. She is also on the voice faculty at the School of Fine Arts at Houston First Baptist Church and is the Soprano Section Leader at St. Luke's United Methodist Church, Gethsemane Campus. Melinda’s performance credits include several recitals, concerts, and work with the Cypress Symphony, the Moores Opera Center, the Ithaca College Opera, the Florence Voice Seminar in Italy, and the Crittenden Opera Studio in Washington, D.C.

Sunhwa Kim

Piano Teacher

Sunhwa Kim started learning piano at age 5 in South Korea and moved to U.S for her higher education. She received her Bachelor Degree in Music Education in piano and choral conducting from the University of Houston’s Moores School of Music where she studied piano with Dr. Tali Morgulis and choral studies with Dr. Betsy Cook Weber. She received music scholarship and accompanies students. She taught public school music in Frostwood Elementary and Stratford High School Choir. She serves in children’s music ministries at Seoul Baptist Church of Houston and teaches private piano studio.

Katy LaRue

Flute Teacher

An active performer and proponent of music education, Katie LaRue is excited to have recently returned ‘home’ to her native Houston from Austin. In Austin, she was the adjunct flute professor at Concordia University, Austin, and Concordia Community Music Academy where she was able to share her joy through music with students of all ages. She was actively involved as President of the Austin Flute Society and performed frequently with the Austin Avatar Wind Quintet and as principal flutist with the Austin Wind Symphony and Austin Cinematic Symphony. She also enjoyed assisting with the Austin Civic Symphony as the Principal substitute.

Now back in Houston, she enjoys maintaining a free-lance music career, performing and singing on staff for the St. Martin’s Episocpal music program. Mrs. LaRue was also a founding board member for the Houston Symphony Young Professionals Backstage, promoting classical music and symphony membership to a younger audience, and is thrilled to be back to her ‘hometown’.

Alisa Pederson

Violin Teacher

Alisa Pederson graduated from the University of Houston with a Bachelor of Music degree in music education. Because she was working frequently as a professional violinist, she began her teaching career in 1984 on the elementary level which allowed her more time on the weekends to perform.

She was a choir director for 15 years on the elementary and junior high levels. During this time she trained in Kodaly and Orff teaching methods and was widely sought after as a workshop presenter in vocal music techniques for children.

In 1998 she switched over to junior high orchestra. Her orchestras excelled at the state and national level – placing in the top six in honor orchestra competition and being invited to the Midwest Clinic in Chicago.

After seven years on the junior high level, Mrs. Pederson moved to high school orchestra and remained as an orchestra director at the high school levels until she retired after 30 years in public education in June of 2013.

Throughout her career as an educator she also performed professionally as a violinist, vocalist and pianist. Her group, Encore Strings, is well-known in the Houston area and she performs each weekend in various capacities – with area orchestras, at private parties, weddings, etc. She is a full time contract musician at Houston’s First Baptist Church where she also serves as the organist. In addition, she is sought after to clinic orchestras and judge UIL orchestral competitions throughout the state. Alisa Pederson currently resides in Meadows Place, TX with her husband of 31 years, Vaughan, and her dog Angel.

Sergei Savitski

Piano Teacher

Sergei Savitski received his Master of Music degree in Piano Performance from the University of Houston’s Moores School of Music where he studied piano with Dr. Tali Morgulis. Born in Ukraine, Sergei moved to Poland at age 11, then later moved to the U.S. in 2007 to study at the Cleveland Institute of Music , where he graduated with a Bachelor of Music degree in Piano Performance. He began studying piano at age 7, and since then, has performed as a soloist, collaborative pianist, and chamber musician extensively. Most recently, Sergei was selected from among hundreds of pianists worldwide as a Semi-Finalist in the 2012 Wideman International Piano Competition in Shreveport, Louisiana. Last summer, he and his wife Katrina were invited to perform at the Colorado College Summer Music Festival in Colorado Springs where they worked with some of the best musicians in North America. In Cleveland, he was an active member of the CIM outreach program, and also performed at the Cleveland Clinic for several years as a musician in the Music Therapy Program. As a teacher, Sergei has taught at Cleveland Montessori school, Cleveland School of the Arts and Houston Music Institute, and has also taught undergraduate music theory classes at the University of Houston. He currently serves as a music director and performer at St. James Lutheran Church.

Anthony Tran

Guitar Teacher

Anthony Tran received his Bachelor of Arts degree in Classical Guitar Performance from the University of Illinois at Chicago, where he studied under Christopher Laughlin. He continued his studies under Paul Henry at Roosevelt University while pursuing his M.A in Music Education in Choral conducting.

He has done collaborations through song writing, arrangement, recording, production and performance with a variety of bands and solo artists, in several cities including Houston, Chicago, and Nashville. He also has played guitar, bass, piano/keyboard, and violin at many churches in Chicago and Houston. He currently serves as a guitarist, bassist, pianist, and violinist, leading worship at Second Baptist.