Monica Washington Padula completed her undergraduate work in Piano Performance at Western Michigan University in 2008 and went on to earn a Masters in Piano Performance/Music Theory in 2010. During that time she worked as a collaborative pianist, piano teacher, and church accompanist/music director in Kalamazoo, MI. She performed with the University Symphonic Band, University Concert Band (playing alto saxophone), played for the early music ensemble Collegium Musicum for many semesters, accompanied Opera Workshop, and worked as a vocal accompanist for many students. In undergrad, she and her friends formed “Trio Aparición,” and had the opportunity to travel to Spain during the summer of 2007 to perform and collaborate with other artists for a music festival held there. The trio was also a featured ensemble for the Black Arts Festival in downtown Kalamazoo in 2007. The trio was very drawn to the music of Paquito D’Rivera and Astor Piazzolla and this comprised much of their repertoire.
During graduate study, Monica had the opportunity to teach piano classes to undergraduate college students, coach a mixed private studio of children and adults, and taught piano as part of the public school curriculum through the Gilmore Foundation’s “Keys to Success” program. After graduating, Monica continued teaching at the Gilmore and served as a staff accompanist for Kalamazoo College in addition to teaching and freelancing. She helped form with a fellow flautist friend the “Les Six Sextet” to perform quintet works by Poulenc, Jacob, and Thuille during the 2011 summer season. She also discovered by accident the enjoyment of accompanying for theater, her first show being a keyboardist as a pit musician in “A Disney Revue” with Center Stage Theater in Comstock, MI in 2012. She also recorded and premiered some works of fellow colleague (now Dr.) Joshua Burel and has since provided accompaniment recordings upon request for various needs in the music community.
Other performance accomplishments during her years of study include being chosen from among a few talented students to perform for a private salon for WMU School of Music sponsors (2007), being a finalist in the WMU Concerto Competition (2006), and being one of two winners from the collegiate division of the J.S. Bach Young Keyboard Artist Competition held in Grand Rapids, MI (2007) which went on to include a local televised performance. Despite her love of performing and connecting with solo music on stage, the constant struggle with performance anxiety caused her to realize that she found much more enjoyment in sharing the stage in collaboration with others, and she pursues that fully while continuing to work on those challenges.
Monica has currently relocated back to Kalamazoo, MI after spending a year in Midland, TX. She serves as the newly appointed organist and keyboardist at Portage United Church of Christ and continues to freelance as a musician in the Kalamazoo community. She celebrated her first success as music director in musical theater for the Comstock Center Stage Theater 2014 fall children’s musical, followed by serving as music conductor for Comstock Center Stage Theater for the 2015 summer production of “Mary Poppins.” She has also been contracted by the Civic Theater to play keyboard for the musicals of Shrek (Fall/Winter 2014), Tommy (Winter/Spring 2015), and is currently preparing for Evita (Fall 2015).
Monica’s musical philosophy focuses on offering gentle holistic approaches in teaching that coaches the student to retain learned information and find their own solutions to practice issues, assisting students of all ages to learn how to work with a professional accompanist, coaching students in musicianship by offering ideas and suggestions in performance practice, and helping organizations in the community with their musical needs. She plans to continue to work in theater, and to offer her services for weddings, funerals, and special appearances. She firmly believes all music students deserve to have a great music education and opportunities to work with professional musicians who will encourage and introduce them to the elevated conditions found in connecting with music. Monica’s future goals include composing for film, recording projects based on arrangements and improvisations of popular tunes and original music (combining her favorite styles of New Age, Ambient, Modern, Pop, Blues, Jazz, Rhythm and Blues, and Latin music) and dreams of one day being a music supervisor for film as well as producing/directing. With her passion for music and her love of collaborating, Monica embraces each musical acquaintance and relationship obtained, considering it a beautiful and necessary contribution along the path to those dreams.