Q&A with Dr. Yerin Kim


Courtesy of Dr. Yerin Kim

Meet Yerin Kim, an assistant professor of Music Piano and director of Keyboard Studies. She has two bachelor degrees in Piano Performance and Physcology, a masters of Music and a doctorate of Musical Arts. Kim founded the Sensory Friendly Music and Autism Concert Series in New York, St. Louis and South Bend. She was also highly involved in Pianofest, a three-day event where pre-college through college-level students from across Washington will play and compete for honors.

Q: When did you learn to play the piano?

A: I started playing the piano at the age four. My parents needed to keep me busy doing something when my younger brother was born and I asked for piano lessons. 

Q: How did Pianofest affect CWU’s music program?

A: It was a wonderful celebration of shared passion for performing, learning and listening to the vast range of piano repertoire. I invited 15 finalists to campus, pre-selected from the recording round from pianists across Washington state. The level was incredibly high, and the level of excitement and electrifying energy of having this event was invaluable, especially after three years of not having a large piano festival due to the pandemic. All the events were open to the public (will continue to be in the future) so I hope more community members from the University as well as Ellensburg can come and join the fun. 

Q: Why is music important to you?

A: It’s something that’s been in my life from a young age, similar to how we learn our languages. When lost with words, music can do the job for you. It’s one of the most humanistic and creative outlets I know. I love and appreciate the convenience of the technology of our modern life, but I am so grateful for the essential purpose of performing classical music and what it does to our lives.

Q: Why did you decide to become a music teacher at CWU?

A: It’s a very vibrant and exciting community of students, colleagues and staff here! I’ve been so welcomed ever since I came here, and I look forward to teaching every morning. I’m also on the road quite a bit to perform and I always look forward to coming back to my new “home base” here. That’s something! The amount of enthusiasm for learning, performing and making a difference inspires me.

Q: What has been your most memorable moment at CWU?

A: This is my second year at CWU and I’ve been very fortunate and inspired to be able to do many collaborative projects with my colleagues, students and even different departments. I started an annual Music & Autism concert series collaborating with the composition studio, autistic artists and poets, and our CWU performance studios. I also put together a Bach & Dance concert last year with the dance department which was so much fun. Just last week, piano studio performed Piano & Poetry concert, raising funds for Ukrainian college students and so many of the Ellensburg community came out to listen and donate. All the genuine excitement from the students, colleagues and the community is what makes the process so memorable. 

Q: When you were younger, what did you want to be when you grew up?

A: I’ve always wanted to be a pianist. I didn’t really have a set idea on what pianist or pianistic job I would have. I think I just always wanted to be playing the piano, use piano for something meaningful, and live my life around making music using piano.