About Us


Located at the Wakarusa Marketplace (1540 Wakarusa Drive, Suite SE, Keys of Joy! Studio was opened by Evan and his sister, Paige, in August 2011 with 12 students. Paige married in 2014 and now lives with her husband and her cats in Kansas City. The studio’s instructors are Kori Staab, Lauren Newstrom, Brian Nelson, Evan Hunter, and John Hunter.

You may find a map and directions to our studio here.

A world – class facility

This is not just another piano studio. We built a new facility from the ground up for just one purpose: To enable you and yours to become musically expressed for a lifetime. To that end we operate four sound isolated teaching spaces which include a working piano lounge! Our students can play for friends, family and others who just happen to be in the lounge. The lounge is equipped with a Steinway grand and digital instruments, has room for studio bands, and is equipped with state of the art lighting and Bose sound reinforcement systems.

Our classrooms use new Kawai acoustic and digital pianos, HD video displays and Bose sound systems. There are no toy pianos in our studio!  No other studio in the area, outside of a university music department, provides the facility, equipment and outstanding methods that are offered at Keys of Joy!

Below, you see our newly remodeled lobby. On the right is a world map showing the places where our students are from. Just beyond the map on the right is Classroom 1. The doors to our Piano lounge are at the center of this image, and to the left behind the window wall is Classroom 3. Short bios of our teachers are shown below this image.

The Teachers of Keys of Joy!

Evan Hunter, Owner and Director, Instructor

Evan is not your typical piano teacher. He studied music composition with the internationally renowned composer, James Barnes, and trumpet with Professor Stephen Leisring. Evan holds a bachelor’s degree in music composition from the University of Kansas and he has played piano and trumpet since he was 12. He writes symphonic works for wind band and orchestra as well as pieces for small ensembles and choir. Evan has won the Claude T. Smith Award and the Lawner Prize for composition. Evan tutors graduate students in music theory, writes commercial music, writes music and arrangements for his church choir, and plays the trumpet for worship services. One of these works, Pastorale, was played recently at Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Overland Park and another composition, Fantastic Scenes, was played by the KU Symphony Orchestra at the Lied Center in Lawrence. Evan loves to help students of all ages discover their natural musicality!

John Hunter, Studio Manager, Instructor, Simply Music Piano

John earned a bachelor’s degree at the University of Maryland where he studied film and early childhood educational psychology. Most recently, John was Director of the Composite Materials Laboratory for the Department of Aerospace Engineering at KU from 2008 to 2016.

John has loved classical and pop music for many years and often wished that he could play his favorite tunes. He even tried to learn piano twice before, but failed both times. He had nearly given up when he heard of Simply Music. Simply Music was a life-changing program. John began lessons 12 years years ago and he now plays more than 100 songs of widely varying styles, including pop, classical, jazz, and even his own compositions. Simply Music has unlocked a gift that he didn’t even realize he possessed, and now John gets to show people of all ages and levels of experience how to express their innate musicality. John’s students range from 7 to 75 years old and he loves to say, “If I can do it, anyone can!”

Brian Nelson, Instructor, Simply Music Piano

Brian Nelson has loved music for nearly his entire life. He was born in Madison, Wisconsin and began composing at age twelve. He earned his Bachelor of Composition degree from the University of Michigan in 1990 and he completed a Master’s degree in Composition at the University of Wisconsin in May 2000. Brian holds a Doctor of Musical Arts (Composition, 2011) from the University of Kansas, where he studied with James Barnes.

A prolific composer of sacred music as well as chamber and orchestral works, his growing catalogue includes his Te Deum for Full Orchestra, Chorus and Soloists; Ballade for Violin and Piano; Mass of St. Rose Philippine Duchesne; Two Pieces for Orchestral Brass; and Responsorial Psalms for Advent and Christmas, a collection of responsories based on the Catholic lectionary.

Brian’s music is characterized by a strong melodic sense and an original tonality – his work is deeply engaging, and in each piece, he clearly demonstrates his mastery of form, structure and powerful expression. He continues to compose both commissioned and non-commissioned works across a wide variety of genres and forms.

The piano has been a companion to Brian for many years, and he enjoys playing many styles of music. He enjoys teaching students of all ages and is excited to help our students enjoy the piano as a companion for a lifetime.

Lauren Newstrom, Piano Instructor

Lauren is finishing her Bachelor of Music Education at the University of Kansas. She has taught piano for more than 10 years, and she is a skilled vocalist who loves opera. Lauren has held principal roles in the KU Opera, Chamber and Concert Choir, and serves as a worship leader at Story Hill Church. Lauren arranges her own songs and her music for the Rock Chalk Revue received the “Best Overall Show” award in 2021.

Lauren served as vocal director for the Rock Chalk Revue and she provides instruction to KU band, choral and orchestral clinics. Lauren also plays with the studio band. Lauren is effective with all ages, and she loves to see her students express their musical potential.

Kori Staab, MME, MT-BC

Kori earned a Bachelor of Music Education from Kansas State University, and she holds a Master of Music Education and Music Therapy from the University of Kansas. Kori is a Board Certified Music Therapist and she has been teaching piano for 19 years. Kori plays piano, percussion and guitar.

Kori has extensive experience with Autism Spectrum Disorder and other learning and behavioral disabilities. She is an effective teacher and therapist for a wide range of children and adults, and she loves to help them learn to communicate and succeed.

Kori plays drums in a local band called Crown Cassette, and she loves to chill with her family and friends.

Let our highly skilled and patient teachers help you and yours become musically expressed for a lifetime.

Our teachers are ready to help and they would love to meet you. New classes start frequently. Would you like to know more? Come to one of our Free Piano Discovery Sessions and a mini lesson! Only a limited number of seats are available, so book your session today. Click the button, below, to book your Piano Discovery Session and Mini-Lesson.

Make the piano a companion for a lifetime at