Anastasia Yarbrough

Voice | Viola | Violin

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Anastasia Marie Yarbrough (also known as An Ya) has been singing and playing the viola for nearly three decades. The Memphis native has been an active contribution to the Western North Carolina jazz and R&B scene as one of the few improvising violists-singers. At age 17, she was awarded a grant from the Mr. Holland’s Opus Foundation to purchase a new viola. Before that, she won second place at the Memphis Foreign Language Fair for Spanish-language song.

She is a graduate of University of Vermont and the UNC School of the Arts, where she studied viola performance with Sheila Browne and Lila Brown. While studying viola, she attended the Stanford Jazz Workshop and performed at the 2015 Stanford Jazz Festival. She was also a member of the Giannini Quartet of the Chrysalis Chamber Institute at the UNC School of the Arts, where they performed at such venues as the Lincoln Center, the Stevens Center for Performing Arts, and New York Live Arts. She is an alumnus of the Master Players Festival and the Karen Tuttle Coordination workshop.

Since 2017, she has been the feature musician for the Asheville Storytelling GrandSlam as part of The Moth Radio Hour. For two years, she participated in Michael Jefry Stevens’ Mountain Chamber Jazz Ensemble and the Asheville Jazz Orchestra. She continues to perform throughout the Western NC region as a singer and violist. As a violist, An Ya performs regularly with Pan Harmonia, Asheville Lyric Opera, and symphonies such as Asheville, Hendersonville, Brevard, and Western Piedmont. She continues to sing jazz, R&B, and original compositions, recently recording a demo album of her duo Red Rose Bayou. She teaches music and performance at Carolina Day School. She is currently training in the Estill Voice method and is a member of the National Association for Teachers of Singing.

Violin and Viola lessons with An Ya

“I follow a body-oriented approach, influenced by Karen Tuttle Coordination. First and foremost, I talk with the student to assess their interests and playing level. If they are beginners, we start with the feel of the instrument, with posture, and later with hearing the pitches and associating what they hear with the movement of their arms and fingers. Once the student is comfortable with all of this, we move into simple tunes – first by ear, then by notation. My goal with string players is to ease them into the full-body experience that is playing a violin or viola. The repertoire changes as they become more comfortable with coordination, with listening, and with reading.

“I work from a variety of books depending on the level of the student. I use Suzuki, Larry Newman Fundamentals, Wohlfart, and my own exercises. For repertoire, the sources range from Suzuki books to pop/rock and jazz arrangements. Because ear training and music theory are important for development as a violin/viola player, I include worksheets to assist with reading.

“All the while, I apply concepts from Karen Tuttle Coordination to help students tune to their bodies’ natural feedback in order to learn what correct technique feels like, what good tone sounds like, and how to learn difficult passages through practice. Inspired by my viola teachers and by Victor Wooten, I treat music as a language, subject to the same rituals as speech. This means that ‘singing’ through the violin or viola comes from regular immersion just as learning any new language.”

Voice lessons with An Ya

“I rely on musicianship and a visceral, body-oriented feedback approach to teaching singing technique. My goal is to teach students to use their ears and become aware of their bodies’ limits so that, over time, they can become their own teachers. Throughout this process, the elements of musicianship such as ear training, rhythmic understanding, note reading, and basic theory are indispensable. I use the keyboard to help students with these concepts. I provide a basic introduction to the keyboard for students who lack the experience and cannot develop as singers without it. Keyboard experience really helps the unfamiliar student with hearing and reading. How in depth we go depends on the needs and level of the student.

“With all students, I like to work towards the goal of singing songs and developing comfort as a performer. As a non-classical singer, repertoire tends to come from the American songbook, Broadway, gospels and spirituals, folk hymns, Rhythm & Blues, soul, pop/rock, and other contemporary music.

“Lessons depend on the needs of the student. For the advanced student, I coach them in preparation for auditions, ensembles, and performances. For the casual and younger students, I develop fun activities to help with musicianship and confident vocal production.”


Teaches Monday through Thursday.

Tuition structure

  • $208/month 45-minute lessons

  • $75 Drop-in Lesson (45 minutes)

Anastasia Yarbrough | Teacher at Asheville Music School