Meet the Teachers
Dr. Benjamin Turk, DMA
Born and raised in Torrance, California, I began taking piano lessons at the age of 4. After starting strong for the first several years, my junior high and high school years proved to be a difficult time for my interest in music. This began to change as I transitioned to college. Through a series of unexpected events, I found the applied music program at El Camino College. There I studied with Lois Roberts and my growing interest became my life passion. A year later I won the El Camino College Concerto Competition and performed the Scriabin Piano Concerto in F# minor, Op. 20 (1st movement) with the symphony orchestra.
In 2007, I transferred to the University of California, Santa Barbara where I was offered the Excellence at Entrance scholarship. There I studied with Dr. Charles Asche and completed a Bachelor of Music in piano performance. Upon recommendation I moved to Houston to study with Nancy Weems at the University of Houston where I was given a scholarship for both years and achieved a Master of Music degree. After this I was offered a full time teaching assistantship at the University of Georgia where I would study piano performance with Dr. Martha Thomas and pedagogy with Dr. Peter Jutras in pursuing a Doctorate in Musical Arts. In my first semester I won the University Concerto Competition and performed with the University Symphony Orchestra in 2013.
In addition to performing, my duties as a teaching assistant at the university have given me invaluable teaching opportunities. For three years I taught all levels of class piano for undergraduate music majors along with private instruction for music minors. I also taught extensively through the community music school to students of all ages in both private and group settings. Since March of 2015, I have also had the privilege to help begin a distance-teaching program with a high school in Kenya where I give lessons using Skype and specialized software to teach piano. In both 2014 and 2015 I was the sole recipient of the Athon-Hughes-Cook Piano Pedagogy Award at the University of Georgia. Along with my studies I was the president of the University’s collegiate chapter of the Music Teachers National Association (MTNA) from 2013-2015 and gave presentations at both state and national collegiate conferences. I have maintained a 3.95 GPA for both MM and DMA degrees and received my Doctorate in 2019.
Yumemi Masui Turk, M.M.
I am a native from Torrance, California, and have been playing piano since I was four years old. I started piano training at Colburn School of Performing Arts under the tutelage of Kathleen Summerland-Heuser and Lois Lepley and continued to study at Colburn until my acceptance to University of California- Santa Barbara with a degree in Bachelor in Music with Dr. Charles Asche. In 2013, I entered my Master's in Piano Performance and Pedagogy at University of Houston where I was accepted with the competitive Hirsh Memorial Scholarship, Bishop Scholarship and an out-of-state tuition waiver and studied under Nancy Weems, Alicia Shirley and Dr. Courtney Crappell. During my time there, I was inducted into the prestigious Pi Kappa Lambda National Music Honor Society.
As a competitive pianist, I frequented the competition scene in Los Angeles and have won several competitions throughout Southern California including winning a trio competition that allowed me to perform with professional violinist Martine Verhoeven and cellist James Arkatov (The founder of the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra). I have also been honored to perform in numerous Master Classes with renowned pianists such as Murray Perahia, John Perry, Delores Stevens, Mitsuyo Ezaki and Kevin Fitzgerald. Through my musical successes, I have performed and competed in Japan, Cambodia, Thailand, Czech Republic and the U.S.
Through my travels, I have had the opportunity to teach across the United States. My teaching resume expanded to locations such as Santa Barbara, Los Angeles, Houston and Athens, Georgia. I have taught in various settings including: class piano for music majors at University of Houston, group keyboard classes at Rolling Hills Montessori, virtual piano lessons via Skype, and one-on-one lessons both privately and at music schools (Moosic School in Houston, Awty International School in Houston, and Hills Academy in Torrance). I am trained to teach in multiple traditional methods as well as the Suzuki method. I am also a member of the Suzuki Association of the Americas, the piano graduation chair of the Suzuki Music Association of California- Los Angeles, CM branch honors recital coordinator for MTAC where my students participate in Certificate of Merit and longtime member of the Royal Conservatory Program, where my students have ranked with the highest performance marks in the state of California.
My genuine love of teaching and my adaptive nature to understand each student are some of the reasons why I love being a piano teacher!
** I can also provide piano lessons in Japanese for Japanese speaking or bilingual students **