Kristi's Musical Training


Kristi first began taking formal piano lessons at the age of seven from the late Mrs. Helen Dunlap.  It was there that she learned the fundamentals of piano and received a good music foundation to build upon.

During elementary and high school, Kristi took private piano from Mrs. Deborah Colvin.   Mrs. Colvin introduced Kristi to the remarkable piano music of Dino Kartsonakis, and it was his arrangements that inspired her to excel.   Kristi performed during this time at various recitals and talent showcases.  In fact, at the age of twelve, Kristi performed flawlessly The Norwegian Concerto by Grieg from memory and received the Award for Best Piano Performance at Mrs. Colvin’s annual recital competition. 

After high school, Kristi received a music scholarship to Snead State Community College in Boaz, Alabama. It was there that she studied classical piano with the accomplished Dr. Melinda Kitchens Brooks. In 1993, Kristi was awarded Outstanding Achievement in Music by the department of music faculty at Snead State.

Kristi & Mr. Walbert
(click on picture to enlarge)

Beginning at age 15 and continuing throughout her college training, Kristi took private piano from Mrs. Sharon Vick of Boaz, Alabama.  Besides being a popular music teacher in the Northeast Alabama area, Mrs. Vick is a well-known gospel music composer.   It was here that Kristi studied gospel music improvisation and piano theory. Mrs. Vick introduced Kristi to the extraordinary music of the late Mr. James D. Walbert of Birmingham, Alabama. Known as "The Wizard of the Piano", Mr. Walbert was the grandson of the legendary James D. Vaughn, known as the "Father of Southern Gospel Music". During his musical career, Mr. Walbert performed with such well known entertainers as Dick Van Dyke, Liberace, and Judy Garland.  For over seventy years, Mr. Walbert composed and arranged hundreds of songs, gave dazzling performances across the United States and abroad, and taught piano to students of all ages from his Birmingham, Alabama studio.  He was a master at combining the elements of many musical genres in his piano arrangements.   Mr. Walbert was inducted into the Southern Gospel Piano Roll of Honor, was elected a "Living Legend" by the Grand Ole Gospel Reunion in 1999, and was inducted into the Southern Gospel Music Hall of Fame in 2004.

Mrs. Vick had once studied piano with Mr. Walbert, so it was she who introduced Kristi to her collection of Walbert music as part of her piano instruction.  Kristi fell in love with his jazzy compositions and began her own collection of his music in everything from pop to gospel. She continues to play many of these Walbert favorites wherever she performs. Kristi continued taking piano from Sharon Vick until 1998 for a total of 10 years.

In all, Kristi received extensive piano training from the above mentioned instructors for a total of 18 years.

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