Is it Spring yet?

It seems to be trying to be Spring with Daffodils out, and warmer temperatures but you know with they say about March!  In like a lion, out like a lamb – could be some cold to come!

Will be concise:

  • I hope students are thinking about practice and how to make a regular time each day to get to it.  If you are a morning person like me, morning practice is best; if you are not, then afternoon and evening practice is the way to go.  Maybe sacrifice that 1/2 hour of TV?
  • The ukulele evening Tuesday March 6 from 7:15 – 7:45 pm:  I want to do this because I think it will inspire all the ukulele students and it will be fun to have all 8 here together.  However, it will be a squash! I can seat the 8 ukulele students but fitting parents in will be hard and I fear they might have to stand.  It will only be for 1/2 hour.  If you want to drop off your student and avoid the chaos, that would be fine too.  All students know what they are going to play (see the weekly emails).
  • Flourishing Muse Salon for adults, Friday March 16 from 7:70 – 9 pm:  Please let me know you can come and play or sing if you have not already done so.
  • Playing duets is a wonderful way to learn abut the importance of counting the beats and the need for cooperation when you are playing with someone else.  I often play the teacher’s duet part with students but more important is students playing together with equal duet parts.  Some of my students have started on duets not just on piano but with piano and ukulele, piano or ukulele with voice, and with two ukuleles.  I certainly hope to feature duets at the Spring soiree and I might even have a special evening for duet-ists! My adult student and I are thoroughly enjoying playing duets such as the Winnsboro Cotton Mill Blues.
  • I have also decided to shorten my Spring break to one week.  This is because I have a lot of new young players and at that time it is hard fro them to miss two lessons in a row, especially given that I will be away 5 weeks in summer.  It is a little different in summer as everyone has summer activities and camps and travel on their minds.  This means I will be teaching Monday 3/26 and Tuesday 3/27 and then taking my break from 3/28 to 4/3.  I will be teaching Wednesday 4/4, Thursday 4/5 and Friday 5/6.  I know with the various school breaks that these dates may not coincide but just let me know when you won’t be coming to lessons outside the 3/8 to 4/3 dates.

Thanks always fro learning music with my studio, Flourishing Muse.

February 2018: What will the Groundhog See?

Thank you all for starting the year with Flourishing Muse studio.  I am really enjoying seeing where all the students are headed in 2018.  I hope we are not headed for more wintery stuff – 11 inches of snow is enough for the season!  Can the Groundhog be kind!

I thought I might repeat some practicing advice and I am going to add a 6th point.   I am also going to write the points in language suitable for 5-8 year olds.

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:

1. Regular works best, at least 5 out of 7 days a week. 

2. 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! 

3. When you practice, do the hard work at the beginning and award your self enjoyable playing at the end.

4. 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. Two to five minutes will make a huge difference.

5. 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!

   6.    There is nothing like having a goal to motivate you to practice and polish pieces.  I do provide twice yearly goals for all students, as well as adult work-in-progress evenings and a new venture is a ukulele group night as I now have 8 ukulele players who need to meet each other.  I might also have a piano duet night later in the semester!  You can also set your own goals and tell me – I would be excited to help you meet your goals.

Practice points for the younger musicians:

  1. Practice 5 days each week (2 days off!)
  2. Choose mornings or afternoons or evenings and stick to it!
  3. Do your new pieces first and the ones you know later and then you can do “goofing off” piano style!  YOu could even compose some music to play for me – always give your pieces a name.
  4. Can Mom or Dad print out the emails I send?  See if they can help you see the lists I make each week.
  5. What are you going to play at the next Soiree in June?

Happy practicing!  I used not to like practicing when I was young but now I am so happy when I get time to sit down at the piano or ukulele or guitar and practice.

Spring Semester begins January 8

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 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.

Holiday News 2017

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!


Early December notes

Every lesson (except the odd occasion when I forget!), I send an email to you, either student or parent or both, and I would like to remind you about a couple of things. I don’t send receipts or invoices but your weekly email shows a record of your payments and lessons to come.  Almost everyone pays me by check so if I make a mistake or an omission the bank has all your checks on-line so it is easy to look at see what is happening.
Now we are coming to the end of the semester can you look at your lesson record this week and see what lessons are available in December.  You may not be coming for all of them so please adjust your December fees accordingly. In addition some people who notified me 24 hours before have had a payment put forward.  In some other cases people only paid 4 weeks in November and there were 5 so that is all reflected in your lesson payments.  December fees will be due this Friday and next week.
On another note, I am finding that some of the younger students are not aware of what I send in the email concerning what they need to practice.  I know it is a pain for parents and I do really love the support all parents give to students learning music with me.  Can I float a couple of ideas?
1. You could print out the relevant section of the email and put it in the student’s binder
2. Some students who read and write well could copy out the relevant section from the family ipad
3. Some very young students might need a simplified copy – I could work on that in big print
4. If a student already has email I can send directly to them but then they have to read their email! In special cases I guess I could text the student if they have a texting phone.
Let me know if I can help in any way.
1. Adult Salon this friday 7:30 at my place
2. DMTA Playathon Saturday Dec. 9 at Brightleaf Square 4:30 pm
3. Soiree Sunday Dec 10 at 3:30 Croasdaile Auditorium – more details next week.
4. Spring Semester will commence on Tuesday January 2, 2018.  Spring semester is very long and I will take a Spring Break week before and after Easter which may or may not coincide with schools’ Spring Breaks but let me know next year.
One last thing – if anyone knows they are no continuing in January or if they suspect they will need a change of time, let me know.  I have more students to possibly fit in and others who need to make changes.

Thanksgiving Wishes 2017

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.

Lorna Collingridge