We had the good fortune of connecting with Kae’sha Russell and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Kae’sha, is your business focused on helping the community? If so, how?
One of the goals of my piano studio is to show my community the importance of music in a developmental way while emphasizing the importance of representation. Many people, especially in the United States, view music lessons only as an extracurricular activity rather than an essential part of our mental and physical development and preservation. Learning an instrument increases your cognitive ability, helps build confidence, improve patience and memory, and makes you more creative. Aside from showing others the developmental benefits of learning an instrument, I strive to show that representation matters. There aren’t many young black or mixed classically trained musicians. I believe in the importance of showing that classical music is for people of all ethnicities, ages, and backgrounds.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
What I am most proud of about where I am in my career is that although I am still young, I am doing what I love and what I’ve always wanted to do. I had the opportunity to become a piano teacher very soon after I graduated college and I am blessed for that. I feel that it is extremely rare for people to be able to begin work in their desired career at a young age. I was able to get to where I am today because of the connections I made during and outside of school. I also dedicated my time to do adequate research on how to start my own music studio. I reached out to people who had more experience than me and I asked them questions. I’ve learned that if you have a specific goal or destination in mind, you need to be okay with not knowing what you’re doing at first and be humble enough to ask others for help and advice. I want people to know that although from the outside it may look like I got to where I am very easily, there were and still are challenges that I face in order to do my job well. Perseverance is one of the keys to success, and it is something that has helped me along my journey.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I absolutely love doing the “touristy” things around Chattanooga! The Tennessee Aquarium, the Hunter Museum of American Art, Creative Discovery Museum, and the Chattanooga Zoo are a few favorites. There are also a lot of free activities and places to visit such as Sculpture Fields, Chattanooga Choo Choo, Coolidge Park, or if you’re really into live music there’s Riverbend and Nightfall. If you’re an outdoors hiking type, there’s Rock City and Cloudland Canyon on Lookout Mountain and plenty of hiking trails. Chattanooga continues to introduce new food and drink places but a few spots I love to eat or have drinks are Miss G’s, Clyde’s, Adelle’s Creperie, Lil Mama’s, Giardino, Sigler’s, or Oddstory Brewing. There are definitely a lot more that are worth trying but those are the places I’ve been visiting more recently!
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
My family has been nothing but supportive in my musical journey. My dad and stepmom encouraged me to play on the vintage, out-of-tune upright we had in our home when I was a child and it sparked my desire to one day become a piano teacher. My mom and stepdad paid for my piano lessons from elementary to high school and helped me to prepare for college auditions. I’ve had many piano instructors throughout my life (and there will definitely be more as I continue learning!) but the one instructor who has had the biggest impact in my musical journey is Mrs. Susan Hadden. She taught me so much, even outside of the piano lessons I had with her each week during my college years. She helped me prepare for my senior recital and believed in me when my confidence was low. Through her teaching, she gave me a blueprint of the kind of piano teacher I wanted to eventually become. Without the support of my family, friends, and music instructors, I wouldn’t be a piano teacher today.
Expression Engine, CityScope Magazine