Meet Our Teachers

Karen Deaner


Karen graduated from the University of the Pacific, Conservatory of Music with a bachelor's degree in Music Therapy and cello. While working as a Registered Music Therapist, Karen taught cello lessons on a very limited basis but in 1995 opened a full time studio. Shortly after that she began Suzuki Teacher Training courses and offered her students Suzuki Cello lessons. Many of her current students are taught using the Suzuki method. She also teaches traditional lessons. Karen was a member of Suzuki Strings of Orange County from 2005-2022 where she served as President and also Festival Coordinator. Karen is co-founder of Bellagio Strings Youth Orchestra of Dana Point (2012-2016) and was Administrative Director. Karen is also a member of MTAC and many of her students participate in the Certificate of Merit program.

Traci Minor


Traci loves teaching violin and working with students at all levels, beginner to advanced, from preschool to high school. She teaches classical violin technique imperative for beautiful playing in any musical style - classical, folk, fiddle, and pop. In addition to technique, her students will learn performance and audition skills necessary for acceptance to youth orchestras and college.

Traci began playing at the age of five and continued through a Master’s in Music from USC. She is Suzuki trained, with over 30 years teaching experience in both private & group settings, as well as 20 years playing experience in the greater LA area including Santa Bárbara Symphony & Opera, studio recording, as well as chamber and Early Music Ensembles. She loves teaching students of all levels, but is especially skilled in working with small children. Traci is passionate about  providing opportunities for her students to share their musical gifts with others through group settings and performances.

Emily Valenzuela

Piano and Voice

A Bachophile with love for church modes and weirdly pretty melodies, California native Emily Valenzuela (née Wood) has inspired audiences across the United States as a soprano and composer. Her vocal accolades include Third Place in the NATS-LA Collegiate Competition and the Outstanding Member award of Baylor Opera Theatre. As a soloist, she has sung Poppea and Fortuna in L’incoronazione di Poppea with Baylor Opera Theatre, and she has sung concert solos in Bach’s Magnificat, Bernstein’s Chichester Psalms, and Bach’s BWV 150.

An avid and highly sought choral artist, Mrs. Valenzuela has sung professionally as a Voces8 US Scholar, a member of the Pacific Chorale, and a section leader at Idyllwild Arts Festival’s high school Choral Intensive. She is in demand as a church musician with an extensive track record in music ministry, having served as soloist, choral singer, worship leader, and children’s choir director.

Emily holds degrees from Baylor University, Concordia University Irvine, and Saddleback College with several awards and honors. She has studied voice with Amy Petrongelli, Karla Kniss, and Scott Farthing. Outside of music, Emily may be found reading, baking, gaming, or talking to her dog, Cashew.

John Talley

Drums and Percussion

John studied at Musicians Institute in the Associate of Arts Drum Performance Program.  He has been playing the drum set for most of his life and plays a variety of styles including: rock, pop, folk, indie, funk, jazz, and latin.  When teaching drums/rhythm, He prefers to keep the lesson fun and upbeat (no pun there :).  When not playing music, he enjoys going to the beach, traveling, road trips, concerts, and good food. John lives in Orange County with his wife and two children.

April Rudge

Music Together

April is a trained Music Together Teacher & licensed Director with a background in Voice & Saxophone. A graduate of Claremont McKenna College, April delights in making Music Together with families. Singing, moving, and playing with instruments for all ages, our children learn naturally through immersion, imitation, and play. She loves creating vibrant mini-communities of adults who enjoy the freedom of ‘playing’ with music together. The magic years of early childhood hold so much joy and challenge for caregivers. Building the family language of music is fun, freeing, and helpful.  She believes music connects all generations and is truly a gift for a lifetime. You might find her consulting on software, asset management, or organizational development when she isn’t teaching or singing for fun in the tunnel on Oso Creek Trail.

Discover the JOY of Family Music!
Music Together at PCOM

Kjersten Damron

Conservatory Coordinator

Contact Us

Presbyterian Church of the Master
26051 Marguerite Parkway,
Mission Viejo, CA 92692

(949) 582-2670 x225