Staff

Karen Helseth

Conductor, Tacoma String Symphony (TSS)

Karen Helseth is thrilled to be joining the TYSA faculty as conductor of TSS. She found early inspiration toward a career in music education through her experience as a student in the Everett Youth Symphony under the direction of Dr. Paul-Elliot Cobbs. Ms. Helseth believes that youth symphony programs are a vital part of the music education community. They provide an opportunity for motivated young musicians to experience a high level of rigor, pursue excellence, and explore their passion for music amongst like-minded peers. The knowledge and skills they develop through their weekly rehearsals empower them to serve as leaders in their school music programs, mentoring other students to reach their fullest potential.

During her career spanning 25 years, Ms. Helseth has taught orchestra in grades 5-12, as well as IB Music, Guitar, and History of Rock and Roll. She currently teaches orchestra in grades 7-12 at Shorewood High School and Einstein Middle School in the Shoreline School district, and has previously taught in the Edmonds and Federal Way School Districts. Ms. Helseth has served on the faculty of Cascade Youth Symphony Organization as Conductor of the Sinfonette Orchestra for twelve years, and Cello Coach for the Youth and Junior Symphonies. She has been honored as Sno-King Music Educators Association Teacher of the Year, and was recognized by the Shorewood High School PTA as Shorewood’s Outstanding Educator for the 2020-2021 school year. Ms. Helseth currently serves as President of Washington Music Educators Association, and has previously served on the WMEA board as Orchestra Curriculum Officer, Vice President, and President-Elect. She holds degrees in Cello Performance and Music Education from University of Washington and University of Massachussetts, and is a National Board Certified Teacher. Passionate about scholarship and professional development, Ms. Helseth regularly attends conferences and workshops related to strings performance and education, and has received fellowships from National Endowment for the Humanities to attend music history institutes in Vienna, Germany, St. Louis, and Pittsburgh.

Based until recently in the North Seattle area, Ms. Helseth now splits her time between Seattle and Tacoma, and is excited to reconnect with the music community in the South Puget Sound region, where she began her school music teaching career. 

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