‘I had stability through music’

Senior Anna Prykhodko finds passion, solace through teaching music

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COURTESY OF ANNA PRYKHODKO

“I was really lucky to always have the kind of teachers and people in my life that had the heart of music and the emotional, expressive, and kind side of it be at the center,” senior Anna Prykhodko said.

KASSANDRA VOGEL, Evergreen reporter

Anna Prykhodko’s parents were reluctant to allow her to begin piano lessons because of the strict nature of the schools in Ukraine. Finally in 3rd grade, she began her music studies at the Mykola Lysenko Music School, which she attended three or four times a week.

There, she trained with teacher Yuliya Kolesnichenko. Though strict, her teacher had what she describes as a “heart of gold.” 

Prykhodko came to America with her family at the age of 13 on refugee status, with the expectation that the family could not afford a piano of their own or pay for lessons. 

“To me, moving to the United States equaled burying my love for piano and knowing that was the end of it,” Prykhodko said. 

Luckily, things did not end there for Prykhodko, as she found her teacher, Sue Piatt, through her school counselor. 

“When we came here, I couldn’t even have dreamed about [taking lessons],” Prykhodko said. “I didn’t tell my parents about it, I just went to my counselor and cried about it everyday in school.” 

Piatt took Prykhodko under her wing and gave her both a free piano and lessons until the family was able to afford them. 

Piano lessons provided Prykhodko with an intimate connection with her teachers. Looking back, those lessons gave her a sense of stability in life that provided her with some grounding. She said it helped her through her first, years in America, which were especially rough.

“Private piano teaching has such an intimate and powerful impact on a child,” Prykhodko said. “I know for me, at a time when I had so many things being a rollercoaster in my life, I had stability through music and private instruction.” 

Prykhodko describes herself as a non-traditional student. She came to the U.S. in 8th grade and was not mentally present enough to even consider thinking about college. She began to teach piano as a student of Judy Baker. By the time she graduated high school in 2009, she had upwards of  30 students. 

“I had to make a lot of changes over the next couple years, and a lot of tough decisions to be able to commit to full-time school,” Prykhodko said.

Raised to appreciate education, college was always in the back of Prykhodko’s mind and in 2013, she decided to return to school and attend Edmonds Community College. Her time there showed her the world actually does care. 

“Up until then, it felt so lonely outside of my immediate family,” Prykhodko said. “School, in general, was really tough, but when I came to community college, I met such good people who really cared.” 

Prykhodko transferred to WSU after two years and finished her coursework at WSU in 2017; however, she suffered a concussion in her last semester due to falling on ice. She finished the semester but was unable to complete her senior recital until this December. Prykhodko jokes that her four-year degree took eleven years to finish. 

“Looking back at it, I view it with compassion because I know that I did the best I could given all the circumstances I had,” Prykhodko said. 

Prykhodko is now at the Solovei School of Music & Arts, which she co-founded with her friend Elena Tselnik in Woodinville, Washington. Prykhodko says as a teacher, she tries to fulfill the role her students need, acting as a chameleon for whatever they need.

“I was really lucky to always have the kind of teachers and people in my life that had the heart of music and the emotional, expressive, and kind side of it be at the center,” Prykhodko said.