At Palen Music Center, we believe that music makes a difference in the lives of people. One of our great missions is helping others learn how to express themselves through music. Not only are our instructors great teachers but they are also people of great character. Our Performance Week Program gives you the opportunity to perform what you are learning.
Jake Arant was born and raised in Missouri, and was a student with Palen Music for over ten years under the tutelage of Tom Willbanks and David Hanna. He has been teaching his own students since 2013. Although primarily a blues and rock player, he enjoys a wide variety of music and the opportunity to explore it with all different kinds of students.
Born and raised in Missouri, Colton started playing guitar at 8 years old. He was self taught until 15, when he started taking lessons at Palen with David Hanna until 2017 when he left for the Marine Corps. Primarily a Metal guitarist, he also plays and teaches Rock and Fusion guitar.
Kristen has always loved singing, and has been doing so since she can remember. Kristen spent the first years of her life in Kansas City before moving to Ava, Missouri where she attended school. She was heavily involved with theatre and choral programs, and she performed at district and state contests performing in both solo and ensemble pieces, receiving top rankings in each. Kristen currently lives in Independence with her partner Jimmy and their four crazy pets. She runs her own family photography business and works as the repair shop liaison and front desk consultant, as well as the vocal teacher for Palen Music Center.
Dr. Randall Cunningham has played Clarinet professionally with the Detroit Concert Band, the Orquesta Sinfonica de Xalapa (Mexico) and the Des Moines Metro Opera. Since 1986, he has been the Principal Clarinetist of the Liberty and St. Joseph Symphonies and Co-Principal Clarinetist of the Kansas City Wind Symphony. Dr. Cunningham is also a composer and arranger. Many of his works have been published by Woodwindiana. Two of his arrangements have been recorded on CD by the Harmonie Winds of Kansas City and one of his marches was performed in Carnegie Hall by the Kansas City Wind Symphony.
Victor began his musical training in Bogotá, Colombia at the National Colombia Conservatory. He was a four-time winner of The Young Performer Competition from the Colombian Republic Bank. On several occasions, he has travelled the world with the sponsorship of orchestras and organizations such as Colombian Youth Philharmonic, Orchestra of the Americas, Sphinx Organization. Victor has been part of numerous international tours and educational programs such as the Mahler Chamber Orchestra Academy, Allegro Vivo Festival in Austria, and the National Alliance of Audition Support training program. Currently, Victor plays with numerous regional orchestras and is completing his master degree in violin performance with Benny Kim at UMKC.
Jill Endaya started piano at age 8 and percussion at age 12. During her time with the nationally-ranked Blue Springs Golden Regiment, she played snare and was the Drumline Captain for their trips to the Bands of America Grand National Championships, Tournament of Roses Parade, and the Inauguration Parade of President Barack Obama. Jill holds a Bachelor of Arts in Chemistry from the University of Missouri-Kansas City and a Master of Arts in Teaching from the University of Central Missouri. During the day, Jill teaches Honors and Theoretical Chemistry at Liberty High School. After school, you can find her serving as the Battery Instructor at LHS. Jill is proud to have worked with many area high school drumlines, most recently with Odessa High School and their award winning indoor percussion program. She is also proud to have performed with the UMKC Conservatory of Music Wind Ensemble and the Kansas City Royal Thunder Drumline. Currently in her free time, you can see her playing snare for the Kansas City Chiefs Rumble Drumline or handbells for Kansas City’s auditioned handbell ensemble: Rezound!
Classical guitarist Aleia González was born in Paraguay and started her guitar studies at the age of 8. Aleia proceeded her music studies at the conservatoryClave de Sol in Asuncion, where she graduated with the Diploma of Classical Guitar Instructor. Last spring, Aleia graduated with a Master of Music degree in classical guitar performance from the University of Missouri-Kansas City, where she studied with guitarist Dr. Bráulio Bosi.
Aleia has performed for theCasual Concert Seriesof the Kansas City Guitar Society. She teaches guitar at theMetropolitan Community College in Independence, Missouri,Rockhurst Universityin Kansas City, Missouri,Palen Music Center in Liberty, Missouri, andLanguage and Music House in Kansas City.
David started teaching private guitar lessons at 16 years of age and is an accomplished singer, guitarist and songwriter. He teaches all forms of guitar and specializes in Rock and theory. Besides teaching guitar, bass and beginning voice, David owns and directs Rock Camp, a camp for kids that helps develop the skills they need to play with other musicians. He has a very well developed studio and has also performed and written songs for multiple bands. As Palen Music Center’s Luthier, he repairs and fixes a wide array of fretted instruments from minor to severe damage.
Bill studied music education at the University of Wisconsin where he received his undergraduate degree. He also studied music composition at the University of Music and Performing Arts in Vienna, Austria before getting his graduate degree from the University of Illinois. Bill has taught music at every level. Before coming to the Kansas City area he taught elementary general music and middle school band in McHenry, Illinois, high school band in Joliet, Illinois, and various undergraduate and graduate courses at the University of Maryland.
Since coming to Kansas City in 1983 Bill has served as Director of Bands at Shawnee Mission East HS and Sumner Academy, where he also taught piano lab, music theory and IB music. He has enjoyed tuning pianos and teaching at Palen Music Center since 2009.
Debbie started learning piano at age 5, voice at age 10, and served as pianist for an inner-city church in Kansas City, MO starting at age 12. She taught piano while in high school, received her bachelor’s degree from William Jewell College in Music Education, and taught high school choral music before moving to Northern Illinois. She served as pianist for a variety of community choruses and also served as music director/organist for several churches. She sang soprano solos in a community sing-along of Handel’s Messiah twice, and performed as a pianist/soloist for 13 years with the Spirit of Life Praise Chorus. Upon her return to the Liberty area in 2017, she started teaching piano at Palen Music Center. She serves as organist/pianist/soloist for a church in Excelsior Springs.
Rob Leytham is a licensed Neuro-Rhythmic Trauma Therapist, and has been a popular drum instructor in Kansas City, Missouri for over 30 years. He has been a freelance writer for MODERN DRUMMER magazine, with over 20 articles published. Rob is a Best-selling drum instructional book author for MEL BAY PUBLICATIONS with 10 books written. His 2004 book OSTINATOS FOR THE MELODIC DRUMSET was voted the #2 instructional book in the MODERN DRUMMER READER'S POLL and #5 in DRUM! MAGAZINE DRUMMIES award.
Rob teaches all ages and founded the DRUMS FOR KIDS class that is a group class for young children and children with Special Needs. Currently he teaches drums at PALEN MUSIC CENTER in Liberty, Missouri. He also uses Hand Drums, Rhythms, and Mindfulness with elementary students for the Liberty Public School District to teach missing skills in behavior. Rob presents RHYTHM, MINDFULNESS, AND THE BEHAVIOR STUDENTS to administrators and teachers around the country. He has been interviewed in both music and health magazines and on nationwide Webcast.
Some of Rob Leytham's former students have gone onto great careers in music. They are Tyler Chiarelli (FLORIDA GEORGIA LINE), Kenny Burkitt (PUDDLE OF MUDD), Jason Dean (SIDEWISE), David Vittetoe (U.S. AIRFORCE BAND) and Dr. Andrew Mcgraw (University of Richmond).
Rob Leytham has been the drummer for the Progressive Rock Band ANCIENT VISION since 1989 and has recorded 3 albums with them to great reviews. They are: THE VISION (1990), FOCUS OR BLINDERS (1994), and LOST AT SEA (2008).
Rob is a member of the PERCUSSIVE ARTS SOCIETY (PAS) and AMERICAN SOCIETY OF COMPOSERS, AUTHORS, AND PUBLISHERS (ASCAP).
Tanner O’Connor is a guitarist, educator, composer and arranger living in Kansas City.He was born and raised in Altoona, Iowa and received his bachelor’s degrees in Jazz Studies and Mathematics from the University of Northern Iowa. After graduating, he relocated to Kansas City and now performs professionally in the city’s thriving music scene and teaches students of all ages, ranging from complete beginners to advanced musicians.
As an educator, Tanner has been invited by high school band directors to teach and perform for their students. As a composer and arranger, he writes music for his own projects and for large jazz ensembles. His arrangement of “Esperanto” by Shawn Lawn was featured on UNI Jazz Band One’s album,That Doesn’t Even Look Like You.
Jimmy grew up in the Ozarks, but relocated to Kansas City several years ago to take part in its rich and vibrant music scene. He received a bachelor's degree in Jazz Studies from Missouri State University and currently teaches and performs on the saxophone in the Kansas City area. His hobbies include composing music for video games that don't exist yet and spending time with his best (dog) friends Kioko and Yuki.
A native of Kansas City, George Schram has been playing music professionally for nearly a decade. Though his musical background is rooted in jazz guitar, he has a deep passion for all instruments and all styles of music, making him one of the most versatile musicians in the KC area. He has studied with local legends including Wayne Goins, Brian Baggett, and the late, great Joe Miquelon. George continues to spread his love for music by performing on a weekly basis, and teaching aspiring guitar players at Palen Music Center in Liberty, Missouri.
Born in Chicago IL, 1991, Emmett Starkey is a working musician in Kansas City. His primary instrument is trombone, but he is also a composer, arranger, and keyboard player. Starkey has studied music from all reaches of history and across the globe, with a focus on Jazz and Latin genres. He has performed throughout the midwest alongside artists such as Maelo Ruiz, Mindi Abair, the Skatalites, Andy Frasco, and many others. Starkey has a Bachelor’s in Jazz Studies from UMKC where he studied under Bobby Watson and Steve Dekker. His current musical projects include The MGDs—an energetic blues/funk band, and Inkontenible Sonora—a Mexican Cumbia band.
Mike Steffen currently serves music educators in the KC area as an Educational Representative for Palen Music. He grew up in South Kansas City playing in the Grandview band program, and holds a Masters in Music Education from UMKC and a Bachelors from Missouri State. Mike has taught saxophone lessons for over twenty years and enjoys helping young students develop their playing with a focus on great tone and fundamentals. As a former band director, Mike has a good understanding of what it takes to help his students succeed in the school band setting and beyond. Mike is married to his high school sweetheart, Miranda, and is the proud dad of three amazing young ladies – Melody, McKenna, and Mae.
Brian received his Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and minor in music at Chapman University in Orange, California. While at Chapman, he studied the viola and cello and was the principal violist for the Chapman Orchestras. He continued his education and viola study at the University of South Dakota, where he received his Master’s degree in Counseling. Brian received his doctorate in Clinical Psychology in 2009 and is currently employed full time as a psychologist. He is a member of the Heritage Philharmonic Orchestra. He has performed with various orchestras, including the Liberty Symphony Orchestra, Orchestra of Northern New York, Pueblo Symphony Orchestra, Bloomington Symphony Orchestra in Minnesota, and Sioux City Symphony. He also was the principal violist for the St. Lawrence University String Orchestra and the Northern Lights Orchestra in Northern New York.
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pricing, and any other questions that you may have at the time.
340 South 291 Hwy
Liberty, MO 64068
Mon. - Fri. 10:00 am - 7:00 pm
Sat: 10:00 am - 4:00 pm