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Exploring Life and Business with Karali Hunter of Hammer and Strings Conservatory

Today we’d like to introduce you to Karali Hunter.

Hi Karali, can you start by introducing yourself? We’d love to learn more about how you got to where you are today?
I grew up in a VERY small farm town in Idaho with a farmer dad and a stay-at-home mom. Somehow, I ended up as a concert pianist. I found myself in AZ completing a doctorate degree in Piano Performance and running a high-level piano studio. I have always had a passion for teaching, and I started to realize that the interest in high-level music education was plentiful in the East Valley, but teachers who specialized in elite training were full, with no room to keep up with the demand. With the encouragement of amazing supporters and with a few amazing music teachers, I began Hammer & Strings Conservatory two years ago. H&S’s mission is to provide the highest level of music instruction to all ages and levels. “Intentional Excellence” is our motto, and we believe that when you begin with the best teachers, a beautiful setting, elite level instruments, and the experience of performing on the world’s biggest stages, excellence will almost always be the result.

Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way. Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
I don’t think any small business would ever consider their beginning to be a smooth road, but we did open our doors in August 2019, just months before COVID hit. In a field that is traditionally dependent on in-person and often physically detailed training, as well as performances/gatherings, this was really not helpful. Online training was a tough transition for everyone, but we were so thankful to have such amazing clients who showed us a lot of grace and patience.

It is also a very real struggle to establish yourself as “elite level” in any field. Showing what you’re capable of with lots of brand new clients is hard and takes time, especially when the majority of new students are beginner level. It just takes time to build trust and to establish yourself as a trusted mentor in the arts.

Thanks – so what else should our readers know about Hammer & Strings Conservatory?
Hammer & Strings Conservatory exists to provide the highest level of music education to students of all levels. We are the East Valley’s premier location for private and group lessons in Voice, Piano, Violin, Viola, Cello, and Guitar. Our program immerses students in all aspects of musical art, including performance, collaboration, technique, history, theory, and pedagogy. We believe strongly in utilizing elite music teachers that have been where you want to go. They have extensive real-life performing experience at the collegiate and professional levels but are equally passionate about mentoring young students and teaching the next generation of musicians. Just like any field, being an exceptional musician does not make you an exceptional teacher, and at H&S, we are committed to providing both. Our faculty are ONLY Concert level artists, many of whom have won international competitions and have won awards for their teaching and performing. Our faculty includes three teachers with Doctorates in Music, a retired university opera professor, a member of an internationally recognized and touring duo, and most importantly, AMAZING HUMANS who care deeply about their students and their art. Our campus is absolutely beautiful, and we have a very rare 9′ Bösendorfer Concert Grand Piano on our stage, an instrument that is usually reserved for high-level universities and city Performing Arts buildings. “Intentional Excellence”.

Is there something surprising that you feel even people who know you might not know about?
Our School rents out our amazing recital hall to music teachers in the valley! One thing that was very important to me as a teacher before the school was established was finding a beautiful space with a beautiful instrument for my students to perform. This was hard to find. Either the space was beautiful and the piano was awful, or vice versa. In the rare instance you could find both, the price was either out of reach, or the availability was miniscule. Our school is blessed to have both a beautiful and acoustic space, as well as a world-class instrument, an instrument usually only found in university concert halls and performing arts centers.

Franz, our 9′ Imperial Bösendorfer piano is a rare gem. As I was preparing to open the school, I knew I needed an instrument that would represent everything that we intended to represent… excellence in every way. I actually found the piano before I even found the space for our school, and I knew I needed a space that would allow for us to showcase him! He is an integral part of who we are as a school, and all our students get to experience working with Franz at all our H&S student recitals and classes.


  • 45-min weekly private lessons: $229
  • 60-min weekly private lessons: $299
  • Renting the Recital Hall: $50/hour with 1.5 Hour minimum.
  • First 1.5 hours is $85, with $25/half hour after that. 1.5 hour minimum.

Contact Info:

Image Credits
Kendyl Hawkins Portraits

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