top of page


 Small Business Music School

Blue Skies
Blue Skies

About Us

Birthed in the pandemic, PALAKA (meaning "frog" in Tagalog) has become a symbol of hope and joy.

PALAKA is short for Pilipino American Language Arts Kultura ATBP ("at iba pa") - conceptualized as a safe space to create & explore language, arts, culture, & other creative endeavors.


Founded by a 2nd-generation Fil-Am Pinay from the Bay Area, our dream was to offer music and arts programming to Pilipino-American and other black and brown communities, extending also to all communities in our neighborhoods in Oakland, the East Bay Area, and beyond.

Stemming from our experiences with piano, musical theater, and churches,

we hope to offer and produce:

Music Classes for Kids  |  Group Piano Classes  |  Private Piano Lessons

Musical Theater Productions  |  Musician Training Camps

Creativity Circles  |  Open Mics  |  Vendor Fairs  |  and more!

Our Vision

We envision healing, restoring, and transforming the world
through music & arts, one child at a time 
via public health prevention models
with youth and families in the East Bay Area and beyond
We strive to engage in, develop, and deliver programs
with a decolonial, anti-racist lens,
to revolutionize music and arts education for our communities,
this generation and beyond.

PALAKA Founder, Owner, and Educator Heidi Kelly-Tuason birthed the idea of the studio during the COVID-19 pandemic, integrating 15+ years of community health experiences with 20+ years of musical theater and church musician experiences, combining her education and training: BA Ethnic Studies + BS Biology (UCSD), MPH Maternal & Child Health (UC Berkeley), DrPH-PhD Community Health (UCLA), Postpartum Mental Health Peer Support Specialist Certificate (PSI), Pastoral Music & Liturgy Certificates (LMU), Early Childhood Education & Music (Santa Monica), Piano Teaching (Las Positas), and MA Music Education (San Jose State).

Meet Our Staff

We are a woman-of-color-owned small business started in 2022 out of our humble home in East Oakland.

Envisioned by Heidi Kelly-Tuason and operated by our simple family.

HKT headshot_edited.jpg

Heidi T. Kelly-Tuason,
Founder & Owner

Music Educator, Piano Accompanist,

& Music Director

Heidi has been playing the piano for over 30 years, and has been a gigging musician for nearly 20. She has played nearly two dozen musicals for community theaters and at over two dozen churches in the Bay Area and Los Angeles, including the Cathedral of Christ the Light in Oakland.


She first started studying piano in 1991 under Keyboard Educators instructor Bob Poverello. She learned how to play for orchestras, musical theaters, choirs, and bands under Nick and Janet Sablinsky at St. Ignatius College Prep in San Francisco ('00-'03), and also was mentored to play Liturgical Music by teachers Mary Abinante, Patricia Zatkin, Ted Curry, and Grace Gamoso at St. Ignatius College Prep. She continued to study Pastoral Music and Liturgy under John Flaherty at Loyola Marymount University '16-'17. Her musical training continued at Santa Monica College for her Associates' degree in Music and at Las Positas College for Piano Teaching Certificate.

Heidi has worked in the field of public health for over 15 years, but birthed the idea of the studio during the COVID-19 pandemic, integrating 15+ years of community health experiences with 20+ years of musical theater and church musician experiences, combining her education and training.


She has double bachelor's degrees from UC San Diego (BA Ethnic Studies + BS Biology), a master's of public health from UC Berkeley (MPH Maternal & Child Health), and is currently finishing her dissertation for her doctorate at UCLA (DrPH-PhD Community Health).


 Her dissertation digs deeper into Filipino-American suicidal ideation via the FACES study, comparing by gender, education, immigration status, generation (1st, 2nd, 1.5, 1.25, 1.75, and more!), military affiliation, and legal status. She also looks at how ethnic community involvement & belonging, ethnic identification and pride, Filipino language ability and use, and homeland connection affect the association between childhood trauma and suicidal ideation.

She has also obtained post-graduate certificates in Pastoral Music & Pastoral Liturgy from Loyola Marymount University. As a lifelong learner, she continues her training in Early Childhood Education, Music, and Piano Teaching, and is currently completing a 3-summer Master's of Music Education program at San Jose State University.

Her planned MA Music Education project are literature review, program planning, and evaluation portions of a behavioral health grant application (to the county health departments she used to work for). She hopes to use public health and educational research to justify the use of arts and music programming for youth of color in Oakland for the outcomes of youth mental health and suicide prevention, violence/drug/pregnancy prevention, & educational retention.

Pianist LinkedIn Profile

Public Health LinkedIn Profile

MUSE (Musicians United for Social Equity) Member / Maestra Member


David V. Kelly-Tuason,
Supportive Husband

Musical Theater Bass Player, 

Church Piano Accompanist,

and Music Instructor

David is Heidi's husband and is also an accomplished musical theater and church musician. He has played over 3 dozen musicals in the Bay Area and is the regular choir director and accompanist for the 8am mass at St. Anthony in Oakland and Sunday afternoon mass at Holy Names University. David has a B.S. in Chemistry from UC Berkeley and works full-time as a financial analyst for school districts.


Zeke and Stanley,
Loving Little Ones


Resident Toddler and Pug

Zeke is Heidi and David's only child and was one of Heidi's inspirations for creating PALAKA Music and Art Studio. He is a budding musician and enjoys playing (banging on?) deskbells, tambourines, egg shakers, drums, piano, and ukulele.

Stanley is a rescue pug from Tiny Paws Pug Rescue who joined the Kelly-Tuason family in March 2021. His real name and age are unknown as he was abandoned in the streets of Lake County. His eyesight and hearing are limited (so his appreciation of music is unclear) but he is a source of emotional support, laughter, and fur shedding for the Kelly-Tuason household. Due to declining health, he was released over the rainbow bridge on Aug 10, 2023. He continues to watch over the studio from above.


Musical Theater Musician

for 20+ Musicals

Screen Shot 2023-06-01 at 10.35.37 PM.png

20+ Years Experience as a Church Musician

Screen Shot 2023-06-01 at 10.35.41 PM.png
Blue Skies

Our Locations


Our Humble Home & Studio in the diverse neighborhood of Oakland Eastmont Hills


Our New Satellite Studio in the Laurel District of Oakland (out of Left Coast Power Yoga)

Where are

Group Classes held?

EASTMONT HILLS: In our humble backyard studio - head down the driveway and through the gate to the right of our home

Where are

Private Lessons held?

EASTMONT HILLS: In our living room with our Yamaha U1 Upright Piano


LAUREL STUDIO: In the Yoga Studio Space or Back Studio


Our Location in 2023
Our Satellite Studio in the Laurel District of Oakland
(in a shared space with Left Coast Power Yoga)
4148 MacA
rthur Blvd Studio B, Oakland CA 94619


Laurel District Location Hours (by appointment)




10:00 am - 4:00 pm

12:00 pm - 4:00 pm

12:00 pm - 4:00 pm

Our New Location in 2024
Our New Studio in the Rockridge District of Oakland
5332 College Ave, Suite 2, Oakland, CA 94618

bottom of page