OUR STORY

 

Master Keys Music Academy was founded by Pianist Tong Liu. Her dream, since she was a teenager and living in China, was to open a music academy. Her story is of passion, creation, perseverance, and never giving up on her dreams! 

 
I was born in a small town in Harbin, China. Though my parents didn’t play any instruments, my grandfather was a music teacher in a remote village. Because of teacher shortages, my grandfather taught many different instruments to the children including myself. When I was 8 years old, my grandfather began taking me to weekly piano lessons and daily practices that would last 2-3 hours. 

As I grew into a young adult, I became more serious about pursuing music. Being from a small town in Harbin, there were limited resources available for the type of teacher I needed to continue with music. Nothing was going to get in the way of my mom finding a great piano teacher for me to continue to learn. No one has ever guessed where she would look and find what she had been looking for… in China’s capital of Beijing! 

In Beijing, my mother was able to find a teacher in Dr. Tong Bo. At the age of 21, she finished her doctorate degree in Germany, and is currently a professor at Central Conservatory of Music. 

Now, here’s where the story gets a little complicated… My family lives in Harbin, and the Professor lives in Beijing. The distance between the two points is 770.5 miles, one way.  To make it work, my mom and I began a 12 hour commute by train every other week, to Beijing to study with Dr. Tong Bo. This turned into a 2 year adventure that helped change my life.  Dr. Tong Bo changed my perspective in music and actually motivated my teenage self to practice 7 to 8 hours every day!

After those couple of years with Dr. Tong Bo, I decided I wanted to continue my studies in the United States and was accepted into California State University, Stanislaus in Turlock, CA.  I spent another 2 years studying with Dr. Benjamin Boren at CSU, Stanislaus. I decided to continue my education, in Rexburg Idaho, at Brigham Young University-Idaho with a full ride scholarship to study with Dr. Stephen Thomas. I had played for Dr. Thomas numerous times when he was in China, and also attended his masterclasses. In addition to my scholarship, I have been the winner of multiple competitions as well as played concertos with different orchestras.  

While pursuing my bachelor’s degree, I’ve attended multiple national music festivals such as the Brevard Music Festival in North Carolina and the Edward Auer Music Festival in Indiana.  I also attended international festivals such as the Luxembourg Music Festival in Luxembourg Germany.   

After graduating from BYUI, I attended University of Utah to study for my Master’s Degree In Piano Performance and Pedagogy with Dr. Vedrana Subotic.  During my time at U of U, I was awarded with a teacher’s assistant position and was given the opportunity to teach group piano lessons for Title 1 schools. I loved working with those kids and passing on my passion for music to the young students!

The Academy was opened during Covid in October 2020. Tong was teaching 30 students at her home in Bountiful when a commercial space came up for rent, seeing the opportunity and signed the lease immediately! “It was like a dream came true for me.” 

With help from her then boyfriend, now husband Dan, together they transformed the space into 3 rooms, a reception and a waiting room area. They have also made improvements including the installation of security cameras in all of the teaching rooms so the parents feel comfortable leaving their kids with the teachers, while having the ability to watch the lesson in person or in our waiting room with TV monitors.

With Tong’s expertise and knowledge in music, she only hires teachers who have studied music professionally along with great patience and fun personalities. Within one year of opening the doors, the academy serves more than 100 students, a dozen teachers and has continued to grow.  

Master Keys Music Academy was awarded as the BEST OF MUSIC INSTRUCTION in the northern Utah region in August 2021! Every week, we look forward to seeing all of our students and provide a quality learning experience for all of our students while having a fantastic and fun atmosphere.