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Distinguished Artist Faculty

KAY is professionally a classical artist-pianist, music educator, piano instructor, and adjudicator who has lived in San Diego since 1982. She is a noted artist with diverse interests and background and has even performed as vocalist and pianist with some of San Diego’s finest jazz musicians. 


A native of Dallas, Kay began her piano studies at age six with the celebrated and distinguished teacher, Eugenia Nicks O’Reilly. During these pre-college years, she maintained an active performance schedule and was the recipient of many awards in her home cities of Dallas, then Phoenix. 


Kay received her BM in piano performance and MM in piano performance from Arizona State University School of Music where she studied piano with James Ruccolo and chamber music with Jean Barr. While working on her master’s degree, she was a teaching assistant in piano and class piano. It was at the University of North Texas College of Music where she received her DMA in piano performance studying piano with Leventritt winner (1965) and artist-in-residence, Tong-il Han. At North Texas, she was a teaching fellow for 3 years and Coordinator of Accompanying for one year. Kay gives credit to her magnificent piano and chamber music teachers who taught her how to practice, how to perform expressively, and ultimately how to become an artist! 


In 1982, Point Loma Nazarene University recruited her to accept a position as assistant professor of music; she taught there for five years. Following her time at PLNU, she coached chamber music at La Jolla High School, taught piano and music theory at the Sweetwater District School for Creative and Performing Arts, and founded/directed “Keyboard Encounters”, a group piano program for a church day-care center in Tierrasanta.  There she taught groups of 4-5 year olds and 6-9 year olds. 


In 1991, she joined the music faculty at the University of San Diego where she remained until her retirement in 2022. At USD, she taught applied and class piano and the following lecture courses: Comprehensive Musicianship for Educators, History of Music Education, Women in Music, Introduction to Music, Introduction to Jazz (history). Dr. Etheridge was the Program Director for the Liberal Studies Program for 10 of those years. 


Since retiring she has focused on her private studio teaching as well as volunteering her time to music organizations that benefit students. For 3 years, she has been President of the Musical Merit Foundation, and for over 30 years, she has chaired the MTAC-San Diego Concerto Competition. 


Kay has a distinguished list of former students who went on to study at prestigious music schools such as San Francisco Conservatory, MIT, NYU, Wellesley, Yale, USC, UNT, UCSB, UMKC and University of the Pacific. Two former students completed their DMA in piano performance, and even more completed their bachelor’s and/or master’s degree in music. At least 3 or more former students are now professional piano teachers, and more than 6 are professional performers representing various styles of music. Two former students are professional composers!


Kay is a very active member of the CAPMT California Association of Professional Music Teachers (MTNA affiliate) and previously served as District I Coordinator, editor of the Communiqué newsletter, and subsequently served on the state board as VP of Student Programs.  She is equally involved as a member of the MTAC Music Teachers Association of California where she has chaired the Concerto Competition for over 30 years.


A frequent adjudicator in the southwest region, she has previously judged for the San Diego Symphony “Hot Shots” Competition, the San Diego Youth Symphony Concerto Competition, the Arizona Young Artist Piano Festival in Tempe, Arizona, preliminaries of the Virginia Waring Piano Competition, the H.B. Goodlin Scholarship Auditions, the Musical Merit Auditions, and various competitions sponsored by MTAC and CAPMT. At the 2002 CAPMT State Convention, she joined distinguished teachers Walter Ponce (UCLA) and Louise Lepley (Colburn school) for a panel presentation entitled “What Adjudicators are Looking For”.  


Kay has recorded and produced 3 CDs on her own record label, Equipoise Records.

Her first CD was “A Return to Hymns” and continues to be her best-selling album.

"Dr. Etheridge’s unwavering support and artistic insight propelled me to embark on a journey of becoming a professional musician. I can’t imagine a better teacher for a young musician who might be looking for technical and artistic excellence in their piano playing. Above all, I value Dr. Etheridge’s innate ability to teach with warmth, care, and a profound love for music." - Anthony

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