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Pooler Magazine

Haley Kim: Making Beautiful Melodies

By: Katrice Williams | Photos By: Michelle Holloway 

Life can often be seen as its own remarkable melody. Haley Kim knows that all too well, as she has long been well acquainted with the beautiful sound of music. 

Haley relocated to the local area from Washington State some time ago. While pursuing her Master’s Degree in Music at Georgia Southern University (GS), the South Korea native currently teaches voice, piano and violin. Having a personal home studio for lessons certainly offers a wonderful convenience; Haley, too, provides lessons at Downbeat Music Center in Pooler and teaches violin for Bryan County Elementary School’s after-school program. She truly loves inspiring others to adore and master the art that she has loved for so long. 

“I want more people to be involved in music and appreciate it, particularly classical music; it’s something really special, and anybody can do it,” she remarked. 

What is more, Haley knows that if such an interest is nurtured starting at a young age, over time, the possibilities are endless. 

Haley acquired a position as a teaching assistant at GS which afforded her the opportunity to teach undergraduate music students. She really enjoyed it and valued the privilege to gain experience in working with slightly older musicians--an utterly different and exciting dynamic. Haley, who is looking forward to a career in teaching, knows that the experience will prove to be an immense asset.

“It was great. I really enjoy teaching music. I enjoy sharing my knowledge and skills with others. I want to teach as many students as I can. I’m able to meet so many people with many different stories, and I can tell them my story; it’s all in the process of making music. The same music can sound so different depending on who performs it. Music can contain the story of the performer and express their personality; it’s quite amazing. I think making music is really healthy and helps you become a better person. I want to spread that,” Haley stated.

Haley believes in life-long learning as a way of continuously perfecting one’s skill set. She has been doing just that by taking voice lessons; she also persists to study strings and take private piano lessons from one of her notably gifted professors.

Speaking of learning, interestingly enough, music class is mandatory for all students up until graduation in Haley’s home country. While a lot of students are musically inclined in a variety of areas, many seek to develop their skills on the piano. Haley remembers her first piano—a grand, white one given to her by her dad.

“The piano was my first instrument to learn, and that’s when I found out that I had potential in music,” she recalled. 

Haley’s dad was thrilled that she was so talented; however, she felt that she was consistently pushed a bit hard to play; therefore, she lost much of her original desire to play the instrument. Haley stopped playing for a considerably long time before finally finding her way back to her first musical love several years ago.

Prior to moving from Korea, Haley developed a real interest in musical theatre and enjoyed various performances. She felt that it would be a great fit for her, allowing her to further her musical endeavors in a splendidly different way. 

“I wanted to do musical theatre; I fell in love with it and wanted to do it,” she said. Eventually, Haley took to the stage.

Loosely based on Puccini’s opera La Boheme, the popular musical Rent by Jonathan Larson is one of Haley’s favorite musicals, as she was privileged to take part in a production while in Korea.

“It was my very first stage experience out of school. I was fascinated with the work. I did so much research on it; I read so many papers and articles about it and its composer that I felt like I knew him. It has been many years since I was in the show, but I can still deeply connect with the story, characters and music,” Haley commented.

Haley eventually moved to Washington and enrolled at Pierce College, initially planning to pursue a nursing degree. She remembers an experience that changed those plans and, consequently, helped alter the overall course of her life.

“One day, I was walking by the choir room, and I just wanted to be in there. That was the day that changed my life,” she said. 

Dr. Kenneth Owen, who was the choir conductor and chair of the music department, noticed Haley’s attentive observation. He later encouraged her to audition; indeed, she did and was selected. Dr. Owen was an enormous help to Haley, even assisting her in obtaining a music scholarship. She sang in the choir for about three years and truly enjoyed it. 

Dr. Owen also recommended Haley to her very first voice instructor, Ms. Erin Guinup. Ms. Guinup suggested that Haley transfer to Pacific Lutheran University, a place that would coincide a bit more with Haley’s talents and aspirations; she completed her music degree there. Much of Haley’s desire to make music a lifelong passion has been largely due to Ms. Guinup’s inspiration.

After Hailey attained her Bachelor of Music Degree with a major in performance, Dr. Owen hired her as a private voice teacher for students. 

“I loved teaching. He helped me find this path again, and I’m really grateful. Actually, I cannot imagine where I would be without Dr. Owen and Ms. Guinup,” Haley noted.

The overall musical growth that Haley has experienced has been phenomenal, and every opportunity has been irreplaceable. Further, she believes in paying it forward. That said, one of Haley’s biggest goals is to one day teach music in her homeland. She confidently feels that she can make a real difference there, particularly in the lives of young girls. The mission would be to mentor and encourage them to go after their biggest dreams and aspirations, assuring them that they are completely attainable. Haley understands the dire nature of this, as she is familiar with the various societal challenges faced by girls there, where opportunities given often depend upon physical features like looks, weight or skin tone. Even for some of the most talented young ladies, such impositions prove to be an unfair obstacle and overwhelming burden. 

More so, Haley sees the natural beauty in life itself and is grateful for the chance to contribute in making the lives of others even more fulfilling. It is all about helping people … helping individuals confidently reach new and captivating heights; that in itself is absolutely inspiring to her.

“The actual people all around me are my biggest inspirations,” she said.

Over the years, Haley’s road has been paved with noteworthy individuals and meaningful opportunities. She is tremendously thankful for her current voice teacher Dr. Arikka Gregory who helps her continuously develop as a talented singer. Haley admires Dr. Gregory’s teaching style and appreciates the priceless advice that she gives her music students which aids each in becoming a well-rounded and skillful music aficionado.

“She is a huge inspiration of mine. I hope that I can be half the teacher she is one day. I have been growing so much while working with her, both as a singer and as a human being,” Haley stated. 

Haley is incredibly grateful to her mom and dad who were there for her over the years, loving her, challenging her and encouraging her to strive towards her full potential. They helped to reveal talents that Haley continues to embrace and share with others to this day. Naturally, she will always remember that first grand, white piano that started it all.

“I really appreciate my mom and dad for giving me that opportunity. I would like others to have that same type of opportunity … one allowing them to experience what music has to offer,” Haley said. 

In her spare moments, Haley loves spending time with her husband. She really likes the times that they are able to vacation and travel together. She also enjoys working out at the gym.

Haley Kim is creating memorable melodies in her life and the lives of others. Whether a talented singer, skillful pianist and violinist or impactful music instructor, she is anything but one-dimensional. Haley is certainly looking forward to days ahead filled with the sounds of beautiful music.