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Director Gretchen Buckingham

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"Learning music is a two-way relationship in which both student and teacher are invested in an activity that mirrors life and enhances it to the highest degree. At its best, it's transcendental. Being able to share that energy with people of all ages and experiences is one of the most rewarding parts of my life. My students are all unique individuals, and I love tapping into the self-discovery process they go through to learn. Sitting side-by-side at the piano each week is like a little microcosm of life itself.

That is a beautiful thing."

Gretchen Buckingham studied at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama in Cardiff, Wales, and was one of the youngest students ever accepted into the undergraduate program, auditioning at age 15. She went on to complete her Master's in piano performance from the London College of Music and began her teaching career in the States in 2008, building a reputation for her innovative methods in teaching piano technique. Gretchen studied with prominent artists such as Vivien Harvey Slater, Fazliddin Husanov, Dr. Michael Schreider, Irina Morozova, and participated in Masterclasses with Bernard Roberts, Boris Berman, Martin Jones, Irina Osipova, Julian Jacobson, and Robert Sholl. Having worked closely with these artists allowed Gretchen to experience a unique tradition in Classical training that can directly be traced back to Russian Composer Nikolai Medtner and Ludwig van Beethoven; the pianistic lineage dates from Slater back to Eisenberger to Leschetizky to Liszt to Czerny to Beethoven. 

Gretchen has performed in Wales, England, Germany, India, and along the US East Coast. She has been recorded for WCNY radio, TV, and received prizes for her performances of Beethoven (Eric Hodges Beethoven Prize: 1st Place), Mozart (B# and Etude 3rd Prize and RWCMD Concerto Semi-Finalist), and Chopin (B# and Etude 1st Prize). She is also an avid improviser and has been known to spontaneously compose complex, genre-bending works on the spot. Her interest in music's effects on the brain led her to complete professional studies on Music and the Brain through Berklee College of Music, and additionally, she holds certificates in audio engineering and electronic music production.

Gretchen's creativity, inner drive, and curiosity influence her teaching style and artistic vision. Her unusual, eclectic background and interest in many styles of music and other subjects make her a versatile teacher for students looking to shake up their mundane piano lesson experience. Her dedication to empathizing with each individual student and ability to fuse humor with a strong work ethic has resulted in a long-standing rapport with students of many ages/backgrounds. Gretchen is a much in-demand teacher in the DC area and maintains a fierce loyalty to those that learn with her.

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Gretchen Buckingham is also a lead Perfumer at DIY Scent Studio. Her knowledge stems from global travel and formal training in Grasse, France and Coriano, Italy. She finds the parallels of scent and music fascinating, combining both music and scent for an inspiring fusion of the senses. Her business has been featured on the Oprah Oprah Winfrey Network, Markets Insider, BeautyMatter, Northern Virginia Magazine, The Ritz Herald, Beauty News UK, Globalcoinews, Obarbas, A2Q Magazine, and worked in partnership with non-profit organizations like the Qatar America Institute for Culture.

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