I have some new students so please forgive me if I repeat some things from pervious emails. I hope everyone is having a great start (if freezing cold) to 2018 and you are all excited by the slight possibility of SNOW!!
(This emoji thing is catching!)
The schedule is fairly set now and you can see it on my blog www.flourishingmuse.net under Spring Schedule 2018. Please let me know any errors of glitches or changes – the hours between 4-7 are very tight.
I hate to ask but I would really like everyone to fill in fresh forms. Cell numbers and sometimes addresses and emails change and I keep both paper records and all your details in my phone. I have redesigned the form a little and the critical pieces of information are your cell numbers. Parents, can you tell me which parent has which cell number please. Emails: I prefer gmail because that makes it easy on evernote but happy to use other emails however please give me a clear indication of whose email it is. Students who have email and who USE it, I would like yours also and your phone if you can text (is that a silly question in 2018?) The form and my conditions are attached. Please bring the form filled in to your first lesson. It would be handy also to have school and grade as well as birthday (School students only – adults do not have to ‘fess up).
The Spring Soiree will be Sunday June 3 from 3-5 pm BUT may not be able to be at Croasdaile owing to extensions. I will firm up a venue later in the semester.
I have some new ukulele students and I will email ukulele parents separately about what my plans are this semester, and what books they might need.
Adult students will be having a work-in-progress evening in February, otherwise known as the Flourishing Muse Salon. Sadly cannot invite everyone as it is usually at my house. Very fun night to see everyone play for each other.
Emails: After every lesson I send an email to every student or parent, as is appropriate. For beginners I will try to make it more detailed but generally the email is a reminder of what I would like the student to focus on during the week leading up to the next lesson. For school students it is important that they have access to this email. It contains what we did the previous week, what to do this week and and record of payments and dates for following lessons. There seem to be two problems. Older students tell me they don’t check emails. The problem is I cannot text from evernote. I can share the screen if the receiver has the free version of evernote on phone or ipad. Let me know if someone wants me to do that; then I do not need to send emails because you could see them in real time as I write them each week. Can all older students also read this email please?
For younger students the most successful way seems to be for parents to print out the Today: segment of the email and put it where the student can see it, perhaps in their binder. I know this is extra work but I do think it helps the student to do focussed practice. over grade 5 perhaps the student can hand copy the practice items for themselves – good writing practice. I can barely hand write anything legible these days!
Practice: It is my problem as well. The only solution is to make a time and put it on your noticeboard and stick to it (note to self – do that this afternoon). Even 10 minutes is so much better than none. Beginners even 5 minutes a day makes progress. Parents of grades 1-3 please be involved in practice in some way. Sit with the student, or listen and give encouraging feedback – makes a huge difference.
Last thing – the Spring semester goes from January 8 to June 9 but I will be taking a Spring Break over easter from March 26 to April 6. this cooincides with Holy Week and the DPS regular timetable Spring break.
Thanks everyone and Happy Start to the Year of 2018.
Fall semester is coming to an end and soon we will all be relaxing on holidays. I hope everyone stays safe and warm.
I was so happy with the Fall Soiree. Everyone played so well from beginners to advanced. It was lovely to see Myles Spencer back from France and playing well. Loved seeing he and Quinn talking about piano business!
There were too many highlights to go into individually but congratulations to everyone who took part. You did it! Loved to see so many parents and friends and adult students and Croasdaile residents. Thanks so much to Croasdaile and to the Rev. Denise Waters, the amazing director of just about everything at Croasdaile.
Lessons finish on Friday December 22 except for a few students who are leaving early. Most people have let me know their movements and almost all fees are paid to the end of year. If you have not paid December fees I will send reminders this week.
I have decided that I will not start the Spring semester until Monday January 8. The public schools seem to have cut short the Christmas holiday and I feel like I need a bit more time to prepare for 2018 and get back to my compositions and my novel. I hope everyone is OK with that. The first week in January is short anyway and parents and students might appreciate a bit of time to get back into school. If anyone needs to move lesson times please let me know soon. I will be away over Christmas but on email.
I will have the Spring Schedule on my blog very shortly – it will look much the same as the Fall schedule unless you let me know of changes you might need. If you need to leave my studio and/or join another studio, I am well aware that there is not always a perfect match between teacher and student so please feel easy about talking to me if you feel you need to move studios. I also realize that my schedule is somewhat constrained by not working after 7 at night and not working on weekends.
I have been reading some posts by Jeremy Denk, concert pianist. He was asked “How do you practice?” His answer can inform all pianists!
How do I practice? Well, amazingly enough, I’ve found myself lately going back to the two most fundamental piece of advice of my teacher in new Mexico, whom I studied with from 10-15. First, never play faster than you can think. Second, practice hands alone. I practice hands alone 50-75% of the time. It is absolutely the best – if the most frustrating – way to practice, and you learn so much about yourself so fast. Then you must be truthful with yourself. Did you brain know that note was coming? Or did your fingers play it before your brain could think?
Every so often, remind yourself that music is supposed to be fun.
(Extract from the Music Teachers National Association Magazine, Dec/Jan. 2017 p. 15)
Thank you to all the students who participated in the playathon. One student told me it really helped him to be prepared for the Soiree. There will be more playathons next year to raise money for the DMTA scholarship fund.
I saw this on my MTNA newsletter – maybe a slight exaggeration!
We have a great deal to be thankful for not the least electricity and warm homes, although I do acknowledge that for many people I know this has been a very trying and in some cases horrible year. I send all my thoughts to those who have suffered and hope that thanksgiving is a sweet time and that the next year brings relief.
There will not be any lessons on Thursday or Friday this week (will be doing massive cooking each day!). Lessons are regular today (Tuesday) and then tomorrow I think everyone knows their times.
Monday 11/27 regular lessons resume.
You can always look at the schedule – click on Fall Schedule.
There are various events coming up for Flourishing Muse studio:
December 1, friday night is the adult Salon where those over 21 (we drink adult beverages!) play for their peers the pieces they have been working on. I will be sending out a program very soon. I do encourage adults to come to this Salon because everyone needs a goal when you are learning an instrument. You do not have to have your piece perfect – this is a work in progress evening. Any other adults like spouses and parents are very welcome – we all squash into my space!
December 9 – Saturday evening, the Durham Music Teachers Association are holding a playathon at Brightleaf Square and some of my students are playing at this all day event. The Flourishing Muse time is 4:30 pm. Please come and support our students and also the DMTA who are raising money so that less fortunate children can take music lessons. Next Playathon would love to see even more of my students playing at the playathons! People are not sitting watching, just passing by – not scary!
December 10 – Sunday afternoon – the Annual Flourishing Muse Soiree from 3-5 at Croasdaile Auditorium. I will be sending out a tentative program next week. Please make sure this is on your calendar! All students are welcome to play. The concert will start with ukuleles and guitars and then piano students.
One of my adult students sent me this article about memory. Research shows that musicians develop strong er memories in certain categories. It appears that there are many good reasons to learn a musical skill at any time in your life but especially when you are young! BUT – never too late.
Cannot believe it is so close to the various late year holidays already!
Lots to say so will use bullet points:
- Halloween – on Tuesday 10/31 I am expecting to see students up to 5:30 but the students who come after that have either cancelled or I have rescheduled and I will send separate reminders. I have a change of plan for myself – too scared to be alone at Halloween (you are all too scary in nyour comstumes) so I am taking myself to Madeline’s house, corner of Sprunt and Oakland and I will have candy there for any trick or treaters.
- The Holiday Soiree is getting closer and students should be considering what they might play to entertain family and friends and the wonderful residents at Croasdaile. December 10, 3-5 pm. I will be putting a prospective list up next week.
- November fees due next week – complicated by thanksgiving!
Monday students 4 lessons
Tuesday students 4 lessons
Wednesday students 5 lessons if you are coming 11/22/17? If not, 4 lessons
Thursday students – would normally be 5 lessons but no lesson 11/23/17 so 4 lessons
Friday students – would normally be 4 lessons but no lesson 11/24/17 so 3 lessons.
- I am planning to have an adult student Salon at my house December 1, Friday evening.
- Last Sunday both mine and my student Gabrael St Clair’s compositions were performed at the masses at St Thomas Moore, Yale University Catholic Chapel. We are both excited and hope we can hear a recording.
- Durham Music Teachers Association are having a playathon to raise money for the scholarship fund they use to provide tuition for students whose parents cannot afford the fees for music lessons. The details are below. You do not need to be an advanced student to play. Some of my students have played in the past to high acclaim and generous donations. It would be fun! Please give it some consideration. It is the day before the Soiree so you should all be ready with your piece!
DMTA Playathon December 9 at Bright Leaf Square time – Flourishing Muse students will be performing at 4:30 pm
October means Halloween (and Harvest Festival!)
Hello Students and Parents
Cannot believe it is already October with Halloween coming soon, falling leaves in the forest, Farmers Market full of wonderful fruits of the harvest, and enough chill in the air to send me looking for a warm jacket!
As we start this week, can I remind you about a couple of things?
- Fees for October are due this week; Monday and Tuesday people have 5 weeks and Wednesday, Thursday and Friday people have 4 weeks (your turn coming next month). There is a note below for Tuesday people.
- Halloween is on a Tuesday. I know the younger ones get very excited about trick or treating but I understand the older ones not so much? Please let me know if you are NOT coming Tuesday 10/31. I usually have candy for trick or treaters from 6-7:30 pm. Some older students might need to moves times and I can work on that, just let me know. Wednesdays are not busy days so far.
- Everyone should be contemplating the Holiday Soirée 12/10 from 3-5 pm. You play best when your piece has had at least 2 months practice. Performers usually say they have to get their works up to 120% to give 100% on the day. This week I will be working on possible Soiree selections.
- On 10/12 from 7-8 pm I will be playing soothing piano music during the Immaculata Fund Raiser Silent Auction at Bay 7 on the American Tobacco Campus. It is already sold out which is so great for the team at ICS.
I have written before about the Royal Conservatory Examinations. The reasons I am so keen on these assessments are 1) I really like the curriculum which includes ear tests, technical work, and musicianship as well as exciting repertoire, and 2) these assessments are internationally recognized. (In addition they are the exams held in my own country for which I sat through from grade 1 to Associate – will find my certificate!). The Royal Conservatory is based in Toronto but they serve students all through North America. There have been some annoying name changes (Carnegie Hall was going to host the program at one stage) but it was always based at the Royal Conservatory which is home, among other things, to the Glenn Gould School of Music. I have a list of students I think would do well with these exams which range from Preparatory A and B, and grade 1-10. It has to be students who are currently showing that they like to practice. Please ask me if you are interested.
My adult students had a very pleasant evening last friday where they played and sang for their colleagues. Love to have everyone come around and share their music. Some were nervous and I will be deeply working on nervousness myself before 10/12 and the ICS fund raiser! there are several important points to consider and as I said, I am talking to myself as well here!
- First and foremost you have to know your piece(s) well (more about practice below).
- Second, it is about what you are saying in your head. eg “I am going to mess up” (bad). It has to be “I am well-prepared to share my music and I am going to play well” (good). If you really want this to work, try hand writing your affirmation 20 times every day for at least a week before you are going to play. Am I going to do this? You bet!
- Thirdly, I have just started to think about this: give your self more time once you sit at the piano to settle in – play a few notes, adjust the seat, breathe, go over your affirmation, check what key you are playing in (my bêtes noire), and get truly focussed. None of this “what are people thinking, and are they looking at me, and is my hair right”). I tend to launch straight in to playing but I am working on not doing this.
Practice: It is a perennial subject in a studio. How often, how long, in what order? There is no one answer but there are a few ideas I would like to offer:
- Regular works best, at least 5 out of 7 days a week.
- Regular times of day work best – some people can work it into their mornings, some afternoons, some evenings. For kids, a practice plan with places to check when you practiced works well. It probably works well for adults too!
- When you practice do the hard work at the beginning and award your self enjoyable playing at the end
- I cannot practice without warming up. If I try to go straight to the pieces I am always disappointed in how I play. Warm ups I like are either Dozen a Day or Hanon. 2 – 5 minutes will make a huge difference.
- Make a list each week of the pieces you are going to work on. I usually do this in your emails – maybe you can print them out or have them on your phone beside you (working on my set list this morning!)
This Saturday evening I will be going to see Simone Dinnerstein play the Goldberg Variations (One of my favorite works). However, it will be very different – she will have 6 dancers performing around her as she plays, interpreting the music! If you are interested this will be amazing – hope she can keep concentrating but maybe part of the performance will be more interplay between Simone and the dancers! Very exciting!
Happy October to all.