Piano is a great starting instrument for beginning to learn general music. It's also a beautiful primary instrument! 


Chiao Yen Chen (Aya)

Headwaters Music and Arts welcomes to Bemidji cello and piano instructor Chiao Yen Chen. Aya  offers private instruction Tuesdays-Fridays, $35 half hour and $60 hour lessons. Aya's music background includes a Master of Music in cello performance, University of Missouri, and as principal cello in National Ping-Tung University of Education Orchestra.

Aya says: My teaching philosophy is to use a student centered approach, initially focusing on basic skills and knowledge before moving to an individualized approach to address the student's strengths and weaknesses.  I challenge students by engaging with them in ways that address both their individual skill levels and their unique interests.  By stimulating student interests I hope to bring out the best in each student. My main goal in teaching is to bring my students to a greater appreciation of music and help interested students lay a foundation for a career in music. 

Carolyn Towler

I am thrilled to be teaching piano at Headwaters School of Music and the Arts!  I have a myriad of experiences which I feel are a great asset to Headwaters.  My educational background is a B.A in music from Gustavus Adolphus College, focusing on piano and the trumpet.  During and after college, I taught piano for 5 years.  I taught elementary and middle school classroom music in Bemidji and Ponemah for two years as a long term substitute.  Currently, I play and perform piano in my church , play trumpet in the Bemidji Area Community Band, and am a Program Specialist for Girl Scouts of Minnesota and Wisconsin Lakes and Pines. 

My philosophy of teaching is to spark a student's love of music and for the piano by allowing him/her to explore the piano as a valuable instrument while still learning the fundamentals that can start them playing. I am looking forward to this year of music with our students!

As of January 2017, Carolyn has a full schedule and is not accepting additional students.  


Jessica Westlund

Jessica teaches piano, violin and viola on Mondays, and does not currently have any openings for new students.  She has over 14 years experience teaching children, and over six years teaching private piano and violin.  Jessica especially enjoys working with new students, and finds satisfaction in helping them establish positive habits that help ensure their success in their musical endeavors. "I begin with a lot of basics and theory.  I enjoy establishing the new musicians in their note reading and theory knowledge.  I keep it fun in class as I build their knowledge each day.  Seeing my students grow and enjoy their music is my favorite!"  

Jessica also serves as Headwater's Music Program Coordinator and oversee our Schmitt Music string instrument program.  


Laura Halvorson

New to Headwaters, Laura is a sophomore at Bemidji State University, and is currently pursuing her Instrumental Music Education degree with a minor in psychology.  Her primary instrument is saxophone, but she received private piano instruction for 8 years and has taught piano for two years.  Laura was awarded 7 superior ratings at the Northern Lakes Piano Festival and received the John Phillips Sousa award her senior year of high school.  She is enjoying her time at BSU, but missed teaching music and is has become a strong instructor here at Headwaters.   She is  is available for private lessons (beginning instruction) primarily on Mondays and Tuesdays. She has a few openings on other week days - just call for details.  

Stacy Crystal

Stacy has a long history with Headwaters, and taught piano here over 20 years ago when we were at our original location in the old Carnegie building.  Stacy completes her degree in Piano Performance and Pedagogy at Bemidji State University in spring 2017.  She returned to Headwaters in January and has Thursday openings for intermediate and advanced students.  It may also be possible to schedule lessons other week days - please call for options. 

Valerie Westlund

Valerie teaches advanced piano,  cello and violin  on Mondays.  She is new to Headwaters but brings many years of playing and teaching experience.  More details to come, but we are sure pleased she has joined the team! 

Amber Gunderson

Amber teaches piano to beginning and intermediate students.