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.
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
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
Music". During his musical career, Mr. Walbert performed with such
well known entertainers as Dick Van Dyke,
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.
Copyright Kristi Chandler 2014
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