When Matthew was 12, he kept getting in trouble for trying to adjust the strings of their grand piano. He wasn’t happy with the sound. Finally, his mom had enough and sought out Jim Coleman, Sr., a renowned piano tuner, to give him lessons.
“I told him you can’t touch it if you don’t know how to do it,” says Elina Sihombing, Matthew’s mother. “When you want to do surgery, you need to know what’s inside. It’s the same for tuning a piano.”
It takes most adults a year or two to achieve what Matthew did in about seven months. He completed his certification that year.
Today, Matthew is 14 years old and the youngest certified piano tuner in the country.
“I came through the Piano Technician Academy, but every day I would go to Jim Coleman’s house and take two to three hours of lessons there,” explains Matthew. “My favorite thing about tuning a piano is bringing a bad-sounding piano and lifting up. I don’t have a least favorite thing. I just really love everything about it.”
Matthew attends K12 Blended Learning Center to keep his schedule flexible, and enjoys competitive swimming. The piano was the first instrument he learned to play, and it’s his favorite. But he’s also a drummer, xylophonist and singer. He already does private tunings part-time. When Matthew grows up he wants to be a songwriter, performer, and of course, a piano tuner.
“I listen to all types of music. I don’t stick to one kind of genre because it helps me with my playing,” he says. “The most valuable lessons I’ve learned is to be patient, always have a good attention to details, and be ready to be a problem-solver,” he says.
For more, search “Matthew Albert” on YouTube.
When Karolina Adams was young, she had a difficult time connecting with others, so she created storybooks, sewing the pages at the spine, and filling them with a world where she felt she belonged. She drew, sculpted and thrived in creativity.
She studied interior architecture in college and entered the field when she graduated. After years of corporate life, she felt mentally drained and creatively stifled. It was time to find her happy place. She took photography, sculpting, glass and creative writing classes, but nothing stuck.
“Finally, in 2013 synchronicity took place. I was asked about my art, which had me pull out my old drawings from college years. One drawing, a triptych, wasn’t done, so I decided to finish it,” she says.
A friend saw the piece and persuaded her to contact a local gallery. He, in turn, was moved by the emotion in her work. Her new life sprouted wings.
“My artwork is introspective in nature, which means I purge my thoughts and feelings, putting myself onto paper. I use inks, watercolors, gouache and graphite. In my work, I touch on the experiences in my life, such as love and happiness. I also illustrate my struggles, limitations and the triumphs,” she says.
She pegs her most important work as the pieces that address depression, anxiety or loneliness.
“It serves a greater purpose which I didn’t realize at first. Because I’m open to talking about my own struggles publicly, it gives others permission to talk about theirs,” explains Adams (KarolinaAdams.com). “One of the biggest gifts my art has given me is that connecting string to others that I could not feel before showing my work. The thing I craved for as a lonely kid sitting in my room sketching and creating. It’s also made me more confident, more myself.”
Matt Sterbenz is inspired by Southwestern scenery and the variety of landscapes in Arizona. During the summer months, he can be found in the higher elevations, sitting at his easel with a paintbrush in hand. When its cooler he gravitates to the desert. He enjoys painting colorful, impressionistic landscapes with oil paint.
“Nothing gets me fired up to paint like seeing some great light shining on rocks, cliffs and mountains,” he says. “My favorite place to paint is the Grand Canyon. There are endless numbers of cliffs and vistas and I learn something new every time.”
He grew up in Chandler, watching Bob Ross on television, and was moved by his work. This enthusiasm helped pave Sterbenz’s way to Arizona State University, where he met his wife and earned his bachelor's degree in fine art. The couple have a house not too far from his childhood home. While he does have an art studio at the house, he prefers one without walls.
“Most of my work is painted directly from life, and that involves actually bringing my easel and supplies outside. I hike and paint in all kinds of state and national parks,” he explains. “Each painting has its own personality. Because most of my work is painted directly from life, they are attached to a particular time and place.”
Sterbenz (MSterbenz.com) always knew he wanted to do something in the art field, but he wasn't exactly sure what. Before dedicating himself to it full-time, he worked in retail dreaming of the day he could make that leap. He finally did so in 2015.
“While it has been a lot of hard work, it's been one of the best decisions I've ever made,” he says.