Each member of our team is carefully selected for their positivity, professionality, and level of experience. All instructors at the center have passed background checks and maintain a friendly, results-oriented code of conduct while teaching at Encore.
DANIKA STARRHARRT, owner-director
(Choir, Voice, Piano, Flute, Symphony, Songwriting & Composing)
Known for inspiring the highest potential from her students and her welcoming, down to earth nature, Danika has been a full time music teacher for 17 years.
As a younger child, Danika gravitated toward the visual arts, always drawing or creating with her hands. By the age of 10 she became the youngest artist to be on the Arts Council of Placer County, CA, showing in galleries and on tours for her abstract photography or mixed media glass and fiber art.
By the age of 13, however, she decided to devote her life to music and drama. As she homeschooled herself through high school, she made a habit to wake at 4am every day so she could finish school studies early and then compose music, practice instruments, or write plays for 6-8 hours a day. Her passion for people, composing, writing, and acting soon led her to write and direct 6 musical theater productions at Folsom Lake community theater.
During her young adult years of study, Danika was Resident Composer for three symphonies, two choirs, and the William Jessup University wind ensemble in which she also played (respectively) flute, oboe, violin, French Horn, piano, and sang tenor. She directed local music camps for 6 seasons and formed her own ~45 piece orchestra from her students for several years.
Danika spent a few years involved with West Coast Songwriters. During competition one season, she received the highest commendations for both songwriting and vocals. She also traveled a house concert circuit as a singer-songwriter with her band. Under a different artist name in 2007-2014 she released 12 solo albums, layering herself playing her compositions on 22 different instruments. Danika’s involvement in West Coast Songwriters also brought her an invitation to compose at Disney, but she turned it down — her heart was still always with her students.
Since becoming a mom in 2016, Danika founded Song Bugs, an online community of music solutions for parents with children ages 0-5. Song Bugs’ videos and curriculum bring inspiration and tools that allow babies and toddlers to develop their natural human musicality before it is buried due to lack of use and proper encouragement. Using these methods, Danika’s daughter, JV, started showing absolute pitch by age 1 and was playing the piano with two hands by age 2. At age 5 she now plays three instruments confidently, reading music, and likes to sing and write her own songs - especially parodies.
In June 2021 Danika’s home studio in Meridian, ID (True Song Studio) had grown to 220 current enrolled students. In July 2021 she incorporated Encore Creative Center in order to bring together a whole team of other passionate instructors.
Danika is currently active in the local Idaho indie film community, acting and scoring music. In her spare time, she cuddles kittens and composes for her current performing group, Starrharrt Symphonic. She homeschools her daughter and is passionate about vibrant health and mental clarity.
Danika teaches wholistically from a wide range of experience while keeping students laser focused on their goals. She seeks to help her students find joy through every step (even the difficult steps) of the learning process, and to experience what success means, with music simply as a model for life lessons.
RACHEL KITZMILLER (Violin, Viola, Sculpting)
Rachel began her private violin instruction at the age of five and has 24 years of active performing experience and professional instruction. Some of this education involved years of studying Russian bow holds and techniques, occasionally under the supervision of Rotterdam Conservatory violin professors Igor and Vesna Gruppman, as well as
the Galamian bow techniques as taught by renowned Baroque specialist Dr. Alexander Woods.
At the age of fifteen she successfully auditioned into a number of outside semi-
professional orchestra groups in the area including the Timpanogos Chamber Orchestra, and also being awarded a full-ride scholarship into the American Heritage Orchestra. Rachel is a
three-time trophy winner in solo performance ASTA competitions, which she began competing
in when she was nine. Rachel has over five years of experience fulfilling the role of concert
master, including at the Brigham Young University Symphony Orchestra for a year and a half.
During this time, she was given the responsibility to perform all solos and lead violin
responsibilities in the first ever Off-Broadway production of ‘The Phantom of the Opera’ in
2013. During her last year and a half at BYU, Rachel was asked to play with the universities’
flagship orchestra, the BYU Philharmonic. This was a great honor, as the Philharmonic is a
strictly music major-only performance group, and Rachel was not a music major. With this
group and others, Rachel has performed numerous times at Abravanel Hall and various
buildings on Temple Square in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Rachel has more than 15 years of teaching experience and has taught over 160 students
from ages 4-56 in three different states. Rachel is a firm believer in the Suzuki method, but
occasionally also supplements her student’s work with Bluegrass, Celtic, religious, and Baroque
pieces. While she greatly enjoys playing in orchestras and smaller ensemble groups, Rachel
especially loves teaching others to play the violin.
Some of Rachel’s most memorable violin experiences include her performance during
her college graduation before the school’s graduating class, performing pieces she arranged for loved-ones’ funerals, having a jam-session with a small local folk group in a pub in Wales, and playing a piece on the Stradivarius “Firebird.”
LISA CHENEY (Drawing)
Lisa Cheney grew up in Eastern Idaho, moved briefly to San Diego, CA, and currently lives in Boise, Idaho. She received her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design and Illustration from Boise State in 1996. She now enjoys the freedom of freelancing as a Graphic Designer/ Illustrator and teaches bookmaking and Visual Journaling workshops throughout the North/Southwest. Her visual journals have been published in 1000 Artist Journal Pages, Art Journaling Magazine, 1000 Artists’ Books, An Illustrated Journey - Inspiration From the Private Art Journals of Traveling Artists, Illustrators and Designers by Danny Gregory, and as the featured artist in A World of Art Journals. In addition to Visual Journaling and Bookarts, Lisa works in many other mediums including painting (watercolor, acrylic, oils, and encaustic), drawing (graphite, ink, mixed media), and printmaking.
Artist Statement: "Fine details and textures intrigue me. Especially the luscious details from tiny, often overlooked, forms. When one truly sees an object for the first time, the beauty that is found is inspiring. Through the process of stepping up to the page, I have learned to discover the beauty of both my external views and internal experiences, and am following my visual journey wherever it may take me."
ALYSSA JOY CLAFFEY (Violin, Fiddle, Voice, Piano)
Alyssa recently returned home to the Treasure Valley after spending 15 years in Sun Valley working as a full-time music educator, Music Director, and professional violinist and vocalist. Throughout her time there she worked with private and public schools, founded a private music studio and retail music store, and worked extensively with Company of Fools, St. Thomas Playhouse, and taught K-8 Music, Orchestra, and Choir at Sun Valley Community School. She appeared as Artist-at-Large for Summer’s End in Hailey and played all over town with her main band High Mtn Heard. As a classically trained violinist who started life as a fiddler, her improv style lends an air of sophistication and pizazz to many different genres of bands. Before moving to Sun Valley, she played violin in the Boise Philharmonic for four years while attending College of Idaho, where she received her BA in Music Education and Violin Performance. Music Director Credits include: Seussical, Jr., Into the Woods, Jr., Alice and Wonderland, Jr., Once on This Island, Jr., Captain Louie, Jr., How to Eat Like a Child, The Little Mermaid, Jr., Annie, Jr., Honk, Jr. and Jungle Book, KIDs, Tommy, Hair, Pippin, Footloose, Willy Wonka, Jr., 101 Dalmatians, Jr., Pirates of Penzance, Jr., Aladdin, Jr., and Jungle Book, Jr.
PAUL BACIO (LEGO engineering)
A former youth pastor and a big kid at heart, Paul found his passion for brick building shortly after graduating from college. This passion led him into a 15-years career developing and teaching educational brick-building curriculum in the San Francisco Bay Area. Parents and kids alike enjoy his age-appropriate yet challenging designs.
Referred to as a “Master Builder” by his peers, Paul integrates creativity and functionality into each of his creations. From a simple brick rabbit to a motorized robot that vacuums bricks, Paul’s creations and curriculum have inspired thousands of children to learn key STEM concepts and problem-solving skills through creative play and methodical instructions.
Paul was also recognized among thousands as one of the Top 10 Finalists in the Ohio “Brick Factor” competition hosted by LEGO®. Fifteen years of developing curriculum in LEGO Robotics has Paul constantly thinking in terms of bricks. Everything his eye sees, he is mentally converting to bricks, figuring out how it all fits, one brick at a time.
When he is not building sculptures or creating curriculum, you can find him biking, hiking and spending time with his family.
ATHENA M. WATKINS (Musical Theater/Voice)
Athena earned her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Theatre Performance from Florida International University in 2019. Since then, she has performed with Alley Repertory Theater and Opal Theatre Company, as well as taught classes for the Idaho Shakespeare Festival. She is always seeking out new opportunities to build her skills and share them with her students.
As Sanford Meisner said that acting is "living truthfully under imaginary circumstances," Athena hopes her students learn to embrace the truths of their characters and themselves!
ESTEBAN ANASTASIO (Guitar)
A professional guitarist and educator, Esteban has been playing guitar for over 25 years. Prior to moving to Boise, Esteban spent 15 years in Atlanta, Georgia living and working as a professional musician. Esteban was a professor of guitar at Georgia State University and Atlanta Christian College. While living in the southeast Esteban played in various professional music ensembles including a World Music Group, a Flamenco Group, and an Experimental Music Performance Ensemble, and as a sideman, while touring around the Southeast.
Here in Boise, Esteban is the founding member of an all-acoustic Mediterranean modern music ensemble 'Tambalka', The Boise Guitar Quartet, Flamenco Guitarist for the Dance Troupe 'Cuadro Nuevo', as well as a lead electric guitarist for Piece Of Eddie - A Tribute To The Music Of Iron Maiden. He also performs frequently as a solo classical guitarist in various venues around Boise. Esteban is a dedicated musician and educator and has helped numerous students master the art of playing the guitar.
Specializing in classical/finger-style and Flamenco guitar as well as electric guitar mastery. Esteban focuses on great form and technique to get students playing extremely quickly. Methods in intermediate and advanced songwriting and improvisation are also available. Esteban is now teaching private customized lessons for beginner to advanced students.
CHARLES KEVIN BOLEN (Clarinet/Saxophone)
Kevin currently serves as principal clarinet with the Meridian Symphony Orchestra and Treasure Valley Concert Band from 2016 to present. In 2019 he was a member of the pit orchestra for the Opera Idaho production of Puccini’s La Boheme. During his career as a USAF bandsman from 1990 to 2012 Kevin performed both as section clarinetist and featured soloist throughout the US, Europe, and parts of Asia, Russia and the Middle East. As a member of the USAF Band of the Golden West in Northern California, he was the featured soloist performing Artie Shaw’s Concerto for clarinet at the Mondavi performing arts center in Davis, California. The Band of the Golden West was the first military band invited to perform in that venue. In 2005 and 2007 he was a member of the BOTGW Jazz Ambassadors which was invited to perform at the Monterey Jazz Festival in Monterey, California.
From 1996 to 2004 Kevin was hand picked to join the United States Air Forces in Europe Band in
Sembach, Germany. While in Europe he performed Weber’s Clarinet Concerto No. 2 in the Philharmonic in Berlin (home of the Berlin Philharmonic), the Gewand Haus in Leipzig, Germany and twice at Royal Albert Hall in London. As the music director and clarinetist with the early jazz ensemble, Wings of Dixie,
he performed in every US embassy in Europe, in fact, he performed at the US embassies in Warsaw, Berlin and Paris in one day to celebrate 4th of July festivities. In his rare off time he performed with local community bands in southern Germany.
In 1990 he won the clarinet audition for the 702nd Strategic Air Command Band in Omaha, Nebraska, while assigned there Kevin became music director of the woodwind quintet culminating in the first Air Force field band chamber music cd, in addition the band was invited to perform at the annual Mid West
Orchestra and Band convention in Chicago. Prior to the beginning of his 22 year career as a military musician he earned bachelors and masters degrees in clarinet from Stetson University and The Florida State University, his primary teachers include Dr Frank Kowalsky (FSU), Dr. Timothy Maloney (SU), Jon
Bruce Yeh (associate principal clarinet Chicago Symphony Orchestra) and Jesse Ewing. Kevin was also a member of the Florida Space Coast Philharmonic (2nd/E-flat clarinet from 1984 to 1990).
CARRIE WALKER (Painting / Tactile Arts)
Carrie grew up in Southern California and has had a love for art at a young age. She joined arts and culture clubs in high school and furthered her education and received her BA in Fine Arts and Fashion Design at Otis College of Art and Design. She spent ten years professionally as a fashion designer, designing for large and small companies across the U.S. Through her design career she had the opportunity to travel the world which further inspired her love for painting and teaching. In 2015 Carrie moved back to Southern California and transitioned her career towards painting and teaching. There she taught at an Art Studio, in charter schools and one on one art lessons. Carrie's art and design has been featured in multiple magazines, she's won awards and her designs have been featured at store fronts in Beverly Hills. Her painting styles range from realistic detailed artwork to abstract expressionism. And her schooling and career in fashion has made her an expert in design and tactile art.
JAZMINE GRAJALES (piano, percussion, guitar, Spanish)
Jazmine began her music career at age 8 finding wind chimes in her school’s music room. Seeking to learn more, Jazmine was taught the basics of music that enabled her the ability to play and practice wherever she could find the opportunity to do so. At times, that meant asking church friends to visit their homes and borrow their instruments. Soon, she was gifted her own piano where Jazmine spent hours upon hours rehearsing.
At age 13, Jazmine was invited to be a part of Treasure Valley’s Symphony group by her greatest influencer. There, Jazmine built her understanding of percussion/auxiliary instruments. This paved her way onto Ontario High school’s marching band drum line where she participated as part of the bass line group. Jazmine then relocated to Idaho performing on mallet percussion instruments for Vallivue High School who had then, began a winning streak at the annual Mel Shelton DIII Marching Band Championship for seven years straight. She also participated in Vallivue’s Wind Ensamble and was recognized with high honors.
Jazmine attended the College of Idaho as an Educator/Music Theory major. Jazmine also has a background in collegiate and high school athletics, competing and coaching Track & Field and has tutored mathematics, for Treasure Valley Community College. On her free time, Jazmine can be found gardening, practicing her guitar, piano, drums and sharing a good ol’ fashioned jam out session with loved ones.
Jazmine wishes to recognize the efforts of her instructors who became a beacon of encouragement in the pursuit of her musical endeavors. She is often reminded through the work of other artists that creativity holds the power to change lives and keep us anchored through challenging times. She is motivated to carry on their influence as she welcomes students of all backgrounds.
LAUREN MCKEAN (creative writing; filmmaking)
Born and raised in the Pacific Northwest with a penchant for creativity, a moving story, and adventure, Lauren McKean moved to Texas where she interned at Emmy award winning Producer, Doug Rittenhouse's, production studio. While there she quickly moved up to production manager, overseeing dozens of projects before going on to become the producer for a creative team as well as a co-producer on a feature length drama, and an associate producer on a two night movie theater event. Lauren McKean has traveled all over the US and Canada continuing to work on social media content, short films, commercials, web series, feature length movies, and TV shows.
NATE TOMEI (ballroom dancing)
Nate started dancing in 1999 with the unlikely decision to take the Beginning Ballroom Dance phys-ed class at the California State University in Chico. What started as "a good old college try" turned into a passion that resonated much deeper than Nate expected. Nate took all the ballroom classes he could so many times he eventually stopped being able to get credit for them, so he came back as a teacher's assistant. Many external workshops and dance conferences later, Nate found himself teaching the very classes that sparked his interest in the first place.
After teaching at Chico State for a few years, Nate branched out into teaching for a friend who was starting his own ballroom dance nightclub in town. Also around this time, Nate had the opportunity to teach dance to a group of homeschool kids, as well as dance with a salsa team in the Sacramento area. Nate was selected to perform at an Oakland Raiders halftime show with the salsa group.
The beginning of 2007 took Nate out to upstate New York, and he found his next teaching opportunity at a private dance studio in the Albany area. Nate was able to continue his own education through learning rueda (think square dancing, but with salsa music), and refine his teaching style further when a blind student signed up for his class. It was a great way to develop the ability to connect with the auditory learners in a group rather than primarily with the visual and tactile learners.
A couple years later, Nate returned to the west coast and to Chico State. Teaching for a few more semesters eventually gave way to a budding project management career, marriage, and kids on the way. It was time to hang up the dance shoes, at least for a little while. Now that Nate's family is in the Treasure Valley, it's a great time to get back into teaching and finding ways to help enrich what is already a wonderful community. Versed in teaching class sizes from 4 to 94, Nate has also taught private lessons and wedding couples. Nate teaches both "traditional-" and "street-" style dances, including waltz, tango, foxtrot, swing (including east coast and west coast swing), rumba, cha-cha, hustle, nightclub two-step, salsa, and rueda. Nate's favorite is salsa, and he enjoys helping everyone find and love their own favorite!
KAM JACOBY (drums/percussion)
Kam JaCoby is a percussionist and music educator from Columbia, South Carolina. He received his B.M. in Music Education from Furman University. During his time at Furman, he performed with multiple ensembles including the Furman Symphonic Band, Basketball Band, Symphony Orchestra, Paladin Regiment, Percussion Ensemble, and the Poinsett Wind Symphony.
Kam has taught group percussion classes and private lessons at the middle school and high school level. Before coming to Boise, he was the Percussion Director at JL Mann High School in Greenville, SC. He is currently serving as the Percussion Graduate Teaching Assistant at Boise State University, where he is pursuing his M.M. in Music Education. In his free time, Kam enjoys playing basketball, watching TV, and listening to music.
JORDAN PROFITT (Trumpet, French Horn, Euphonium, Trombone, Tuba)
Jordan is a Kentucky native that recently moved to Boise, ID to pursue his Masters in Music Education at Boise State University. At Boise State, Jordan serves as a Graduate Teaching Assistant with the Blue Thunder Marching Band. For his bachelor degree, Jordan attended the University of Kentucky in his hometown of Lexington. While at Kentucky, Jordan had the opportunity to lead the Wildcat Marching Band as Drum Major for two years. This combined with his summer at The Blue Stars Drum and Bugle Corps sparked his love and interest in becoming an athletic band director. Outside of Marching Band, Jordan has performed with the Cincinnati Wind Band, solo’d with the Lexington Brass Band, and performed in Carnegie Hall. He was also selected as the Bass Trombonist with the Prague Summer Nights music festival and was able to perform in some of the greatest concert halls in Europe with musicians from around the world. When not busy playing music, Jordan enjoys skiing with his girlfriend Lauren and traveling to new parts of the country.
EMILY BATEMAN (Piano/Guitar)
Emily is an accomplished musician and songwriter who has been teaching private lessons since 2015. She earned her bachelor’s degree in music composition from the University of Oklahoma, with the piano as her primary instrument. She also plays guitar, violin, bass, drums, mandolin, and enjoys just about any instrument she can get her hands on.
Emily has participated in several exclusive
choirs and spent time conducting both choir and orchestra.
In 2015 Emily co-founded Psalter Project to create new music for the Biblical psalms. As executive producer and primary composer, she has released three albums and is working on her fourth.
Emily also has participated in worship music since she was a child. Moving every three years as a military brat, she had the unique opportunity to join with churches in all styles and genres. She has since led music at several churches, including Forestgate PCA in Colorado Springs, Living Branches Community Church in Colorado Springs, and Christ the King PCA in Norman, Oklahoma.
JARED BATEMAN (Speech & Debate, Guitar)
Jared is an actor and speech coach with over 20 years of experience in public speaking. His involvement has been international and varied with work ranging from stage plays to corporate presentations. He absolutely loves getting in front of people and telling them stories; whether from rich literature, personal experience, or forward-thinkers. What he loves about teaching communication and acting is that it's not just for the sake of art, it also has broad practical ramifications as well as teaching developing empathy and good character. Coaching is a joy and he loves seeing people grow and flourish!
EMMA D'ANDREA (Bass, Piano, Ukulele)
Emma D'Andrea was raised in Boise, ID. She has been playing piano since she was 8 years old and started playing bass at 14. She often performed in local music festivals, competing in the local concerto festival. After graduating from high school, she studied at BYU-Idaho, where she graduated with a Bachelors degree in General Music in 2014. Emma's piano training is in classical works, where her favorite composer is Mozart. She generally plays blues or jazz on the bass, although sometimes she switches over to bass guitar to rock out or get funky. Emma has two kids, 2 and 5, and enjoys hiking, gardening, softball, and reading in her spare time.
(sketch comedy channel; filmmaking)
Nicholas started making films as early as Junior High, when he turned every school assignment possible into a short film. Combined with his robust background of live theatre, improvisation, and musical theatre, where he’s won multiple awards, Nicholas has cultivated a unique approach to storytelling through film. While studying performance art at the New York Film Academy, Nicholas realized his true calling was the indie film scene in his hometown of Boise, ID and returned to share his love of film, characterization, and storytelling with his community. As the Co-Founder and President of Capital B Films his short films have won several awards across the United States, Canada, Italy, and Australia. With two young boys of his own, who have a penchant for music and performance of their own, Nicholas loves to share the craft of film, storytelling, and performance with curious minds of all ages. When not actively filming or spending time in the editing room, Nicholas enjoys watching movies and live performances, reading everything from novels to comics, and experimenting in the kitchen.
GABRIELLE HAVEN (Harp, Piano)
Gabrielle grew up with creativity as part of life. Her love of nature, early musical exposure from as long as she can remember (she would hear her mother composing songs at the piano), and intuitive exploration naturally led to multiple music outputs. She started learning violin and voice around age 11 and went on to learn many other instruments as a self taught student. During her teens and early 20s, she enjoyed participating in music production within the family, including developing orchestration skills and sound editing recorded vocals.
Though she participated in multiple musical events (orchestras, choir, and arranging music for events), her strongest desire was and still is to help communicate the beauty of the universe through her original music and help others understand the basic tools of music so that they too can explore the wonderful, powerful world of musical self-expression.
NICHOLE STULL (Dramatic Dance)
Nichole has been teaching acting and improv in the valley for 18 years. She started dancing as a teenager and health issues prevented her from pursuing a career in dance as an adult. But in the last 10 years with various dance studios she's been able to teach classes specifically designed to combine acting and dancing skills.