Mosaic String Academy (MSA) is a new  music conservatory with 700 sq foot of performance space in close-in SE. Founder/owner Kate O’Brien opened Kate’s Music Studio in 2008 and is the force behind the new open learning space for lessons and recitals.

“As a classically trained violinist with fifteen years teaching experience, I believe that everyone and anyone can learn to play an instrument. This is also the fundamental principle of the Suzuki Method. I endeavor to make learning all styles of music fun, easy and accessible.

Kate O’Brien

“It is also my job to teach beautiful tone, technique and good practice habits. I believe the classical technique is the best vehicle towards playing beautiful and meaningful music of any genre on the violin/viola or cello. I’m curious to explore all kinds of music.”

Bringing together quality, customized lessons in classical violin, viola and cello and bass with the unique experience of monthly group playing music of various genres, MSA is the only place of its kind in the metro-Portland area and is meeting a growing demand for an alternative-to-classical environment for string players to explore various genres representing the rich melting pot of ethnic music instruments have been playing for hundreds of years.

O’Brien said: “There is a modern movement with professional and amateur players to explore and reinvent how strings are involved in art and music. At Mosaic, students receive private instruction in classical technique and repertoire while playing in monthly group classes where we explore music in genres such as mariachi, fiddle, blues, pop, improvisation, jazz, eastern European and songwriting. It is crucial that the players of today experience the different environments where strings belong, and find in their own hearts where their music fits into the greater picture.”

O’Brien has played violin and sang in various rock/pop and folk bands in the area and different musical projects. She plays with the Tillicum Chamber Orchestra. She serves on the Bubbaville Board (Old-Time music) and sits in with musical friends about town.

O’Brien and her staff, Andrea Morgan and Alexis Mahler, are accepting new students. They are all classically trained and have toured the world playing different kinds of music.

Out of this group class format O’Brien developed the one and only Portland Youth Pop Orchestra just for tweens and teens. There’s a full rhythm section, a thirty-piece string section and will be collaborating with The Shine Chorus this year.  In May PYPO will perform four pieces, including the “Bohemian Rhapsody” by Queen.

In these groups people explore, rehearse and prepare music outside the typical classical realm with kids their own age for one hour a month. After four months, the groups put on a show and then begin a new session. The combination of customized private study with consistent, non-competitive, musically relevant exploration develops individual skills while opening up a social arena around music.

MSA’s program fits needs of the budding musician, of any ability level, who studies privately and loves to play but rarely gets a chance to play music with other people outside the classical realm.  It meets the needs of busy, budget-minded families as very few Portland Public schools offer orchestra anymore. Of all the string players in our town, a small minority have the ability and family resources to play at the level necessary to participate in a Metropolitan Youth Symphony or Portland Youth Philharmonic. MSA’s program meets the growing demand for a place for these players to land, players who love to play and to continue to grow.

Mosaic String Academy is close in at 5120 SE 28th Ave. (3 blocks south of Holgate and the David Kerr Violin shop). See or phone 971.221.4237. Email Kate at Mosaic Studio is open for rent during weekends. It’s an open floor plan with good light – perfect for a Yoga or writing retreats, classes or workshops.  Acoustic jams/rehearsals are possible and affordable. Contact Kate for more information.