August is rolling through! It is good to be having some students already coming back to lessons. Even though I have numerous of projects on the go, I love to see my students and enjoy the interactions with them so much. “They” say extroverts get their energy from being with people and there is definitely a large part of me that is like that. (Introverts apparently get their energy renewed by alone time, and I can appreciate that too at times).
I am working on solidifying the date for the Holiday Soiree – Sunday December 2 from 3-5 pm. Fall semester is quite short so I will be working on the programing from September onwards.
Fall semester officially begins Tuesday September 4, the day after labor day. For all students who will not have started lessons in August, their lessons will commence on that day. Sorry about Labor Monday students – if a Monday student wants a lesson that week let me know and I might be able to fit them in.
Don’t forget I am having my summer beach week, last vacation of the year, from Monday 8/27/18 to friday 8/31/18.
Over the holidays I was able to meet with Chelsea several times and have just said goodbye to her this week as she heads back to Austin for her third year. She is studying at the Butler School of Music at the University of Texas in Austin. She will not be back in time for the soiree in December but will be giving several concerts, one possibly at Croasdaile and perhaps another in Raleigh and I will have more details later in the year. She played a little of her new piece, Mendelssohn’s Variations Serieuses op. 54, so beautiful. Please go and listen to it if you are interested:
Parents and students often ask me about the difference between an acoustic and a digital piano, and why do I recommend an acoustic piano where possible. There was an excellent article in my Piano Price Point blog recently; this is an extract and you can read the whole article and see the diagrams here:
“So why upgrade? Longer keys mean better balance from front to back of the piano keys. The rotational inertia gives dynamic touch changing the feel as you play soft to loud. And finally, the spring loaded joints aid the reset. All of these work collectively to define the touch of a piano. When you compare that to a digital piano where the touch weight is simply raising or lowering a lead weight on a see-saw, the difference is significant. In addition to these touch elements, traditional pianos also have adjustable parts to refine the touch components as well.
Final considerations regarding touch: dexterity and injury. After nearly 30 years of teaching, I could tell as soon as I heard a student who had been practicing on a digital piano. How? They have not developed anywhere near the right amount of finger dexterity. You can “hear” that their technique is weak. Dynamic touch brings about correct dexterity. You can especially hear it on quick staccato passages. But the more important consideration is injury. Extended practice time on digital pianos have the propensity towards injury. I’m not a kinesiologist but I think it has something to do with repetitive loud playing on the digital piano. I believe that the force is somehow not absorbed the same way because digital pianos do not have dynamic key weight. When you come crashing down on the keys, if the static weight doesn’t change, the next absorption point is the hands and arms. The dynamic nature of the acoustic piano changes the resistance when you play and for whatever reason, I find it more forgiving.
When it comes to upgrading from a digital piano to an acoustic piano, there are also 2 sound concepts to be mindful of: The first is the continuous flow of sound which we commonly refer to as analog. The second is dynamic timbre referring to how the sound quality changes with dynamics and volume.
First, let’s look at the comparison between acoustic sound and digital sound. The acoustic piano creates sound by a hammer striking a string. The subsequent vibration is amplified by the soundboard into audible tones. How do digital pianos make sound? Digital pianos don’t actually create sound. They simply play back a digital recording of a real piano. But digital sound and live string resonance are different. Digital sound is made up of many frames per second to give the illusion of continuous sound. Natural vibration of a string is a continuous waveform that we perceive differently. I remember the first time I used Skype to speak with my parents a thousand miles away. My aging father found the technology almost baffling. It was great to see their faces and connect but is it the same as being there in person? No of course not. Both methods communicate effectively but the live version brings about a closer heart connection. A picture of a garden or being in the garden, a filmed version of a Shakespearean play or experiencing live theatre, hearing a recorded version of your favourite artist or seeing them live in concert ~ live is simply more than the digital representation. And yes I’m well aware of the fact that there are incredible creative moments that can only be achieved in the digital realm. It’s not that it lacks expression as its own form. My point is that digital piano will always and only be a facsimile of a real piano. And as it relates to acoustic analog continuous sound waves versus a digital recording of a piano transmitted through speakers, natural sound will always be the better choice.”
I know finance is the problem for so many people and pianos are expensive, but a pianist told me that the Trosa Thrift Store on North Roxboro Street often has numerous pianos in quite reasonable condition. You would need to have someone look them over for weak points but it could be a good starting place to acquire an acoustic piano. Pianos do need to be tuned at least once a year and the fees are somewhere around $140 for basic tuning.
Happy late summer everyone and be safe.
This summer, 2018, I took a long 6 weeks trip to visit my two daughters, Meredith and Rose and my three grandkids, Lakota, Myla and Joshie. Meredith and her husband Mark live in Fremantle, Western Australia, and Rose and her husband Simon live in London, or rather did live in London but are moving right now to Bedford, about hour and a half from London. It was a great visit but I was away a long time and I am very glad to be home with Carol, my home, my garden and all my friends and students. Here are a few pictures from the trip:
Lorna with grandson Joshie at Hampstead Heath
I toured Highgate Hill Cemetery, which is very weird really but I enjoyed the guide’s commentary. Cool and shady.
Port Beach, Fremantle WA, favorite place to walk even in winter, loads of Sailboats and container ships waiting to enter the port.
Jarrah forest near Millbrook Winery in the Margaret River region, WA. Fluffy grass trees and ancient palms.
Walking into Millbrook Winery where my daughter took me for lunch for my birthday. Almost every day was like this, cold but brilliant blue skies. The Margaret River region is famous for its wines and Millbrook wines were really good but expensive!
This is what we colonial Aussies do to remind ourselves that Xmas should be cold, as it was in the northern hemisphere where most of us come from. I personally always cooked a hot roast and hot xmas pudding for Xmas day in December even if it was 100 degrees! Nowadays one goes to the beach for a picnic on Xmas day and, for fun, have a cold July Xmas celebration (with fake snow)!
Playing backyard cricket with my granddaughter Myla.
Mysterious artwork by my granddaughter Lakota – art is one of her best subjects.
On a visit to a Farm stay at Dwellingup WA, the family enjoyed the Trees Adventure park where they have over 30 very scary zip lines all connected by nasty moving bridges. I did not participate but watched while hoping no-one fell!
Myla age 6 did her course 7 times!
My daughter Meredith had to do it with her 10 year old – took her a while to feel confident!
Of course the 10 year old granddaughter had no fear and had to wait for her mother!
Lorna and Lakota at the Art Gallery of WA – we are supposed to look very alike.
So happy this is happening all over WA – has got me into the habit of taking my own bags here – we need this everywhere!
Back in London – Joshie rode a pygmy hippopotamus at the Zoo and he wasn’t even scared!!
A bevy of swans on the Ouse river in Bedford, my daughter Rose’s new home.
Rose and Lorna enjoying a cold glass of white wine in the pub in London – sadly the next glass will be in Bedford. I do love London!
The scary banksia man with all his mouths who tries to eat Snuggle Pot and Cuddle Pie! – Myla was reading this Australian book and hearing it all again I realize it has a lot of adult ideas in it – going to re-read it. I was always terrified of banksia seeds – they are quite big!
I hope everyone has a wonderful, safe, fun summer whatever you are doing. I leave today June 13 and will be back Tuesday July 24 and teaching from Monday July 30.
I am assuming that people who are coming back to lessons on Monday 30th July are coming at their regular lesson time. I have not made a special August schedule but I know people are not necessarily here all August or might need a time adjustment. Just let me know. I will have limited access to email depending on where I am but I can check frequently.
The Fall schedule as it is at the moment is up on my blog. Please check it. I know some people have asked for extra lessons but that is all dependent on people being willing to shift days. We can work it out when I get back. But if you have a request other than those you have already indicated, let me know on email. I will have different phone numbers overseas.
Remember that Chelsea will be teaching this summer while I am away so please contact her for extra special piano lessons:
Her phone: 919-667-8214
If anything changes I will post on my blog, as I can do that from Australia or London. Check my blog latter part of July just in case.
Welcome to two new students, Lydia and Cecilia, but sadly goodbye to Maddy Werner who is off to UNC – best of luck in your new career Maddy!
Thanks to all students and parents and friends, it was a great soiree, and I hope everyone feels very proud of themselves. A wonderful bunch of musicians. Too many good things to enumerate here but hope to see all students in lessons this week, as it is my last week teaching until end of July. Lessons recommence Monday July 30 when you can come. I understand people are on holidays intermittently and also at camps.
My ex-student Chelsea Daniel will be available for lessons again this summer especially while I am away for 6 weeks from June 8 to end of July. She has taught some of my students in previous years and she has also recently given me some help with my playing to good effect (I hope!). This is a wonderful opportunity to catch Chelsea before she travels overseas or gets on the concert tour. Chelsea is entering her third year at the Butler School of Music at the University of Texas in Austin. Chelsea has a particular interest in woman composers especially those from the African American and Hispanic community, a much neglected group musically speaking but she is going to remedy that! She is also composing herself so far in a modern jazz idiom.
Her phone: 919-667-8214
- You are my Sunshine (all)
- This little light (all)
- This land is your land (all)
- Safari (Hazel, Camille, and Ella)
- On a Mountain High Top (Leo and Ava, Ian, Lucas)
- Wild Mountain Thyme (Lucas)
- ? (Leo and/or Ava?)
- March (Sadie and Lorna)
- Elenke (Sadie and Lorna)
I’m on Fire (Kaitlyn)
- Winnsboro Cotton Mill Blues (Mary-Russell and Lorna)
- Russian Waltz or Water is Wide (Mary-Russell and Lorna)
- Camptown Races (Madeline and Mai)
- Eine Leine Nachtmusik (Madeline and Mai)
- Sun Flowers in Spring (Lillie and Cynthia)
- Madeline – Classic Dance
- Mai – Dancing Sea Horses
- Oscar –
- Louisa –
- Lillie – Canoe song
- Stella – Ode to Joy
- Iris – haiku and Mixed up song
- Khaleel – Firefly
- Logan – Ode to joy
- Andrew – Sea Chanty
- Liam – Marche Slav
- Mia – Energico
- Jesse – Gypsy and Swing low
- Quinn – Fantasia and Monk
- Lucas and Mia – A Million Dreams
- Oscar? Quinn?
- Michelle – Never enough
- Richard – Non piu Andrai
The Spring Soirée 2018 is approaching very quickly. It will be held on June 3 at Croasdaile auditorium at Croasdaile Village from 3-5 pm. I call my twice yearly concerts Soirées which is not technically quite correct in the afternoon, but it is such a nice word! Here is the definition: an evening party or social gathering, especially one held for a particular purpose, e.g. a musical Soirée.
The clearest directions to Croasdaile Village are on their website. Once you get to the main entrance, register at the desk and ask the way to the Auditorium.
Website for directions: http://www.croasdailevillage.com/cvhowtofindus.html
I would like to invite all students and friends and family to come to the Soirée. It is a lot of work but I arrange it because I think it is the friendliest way to share musical gifts in a supportive atmosphere (there is no charge for the Soirée). Many students find competitions very nerve racking. One has to enter competitions sometimes if you aim to be a performer professionally, and some very confident people are excited by the process. Most of my students find performing at the lovely auditorium at Croasdaile for family and friends and residents much more relaxing. The residents at Croasdaile love to come and hear especially the young ones perform. (One of my singers even has a fan club there!)
I invite my new students to come to their first Soirée so they can see what happens and how their colleagues play. If there are new students who feel they would like to perform at this Soirée, you would be very welcome. I also invite my adult students to come and support the students who are performing. My adult students have opted to have their own evening for more work-in-progress sharing (May 25 is the next FM Salon), but I would still love them to come to the Soirée if they can and are so minded.
The Soirée program: All students should be considering what they would like to perform at the Soiree. I am talking to students in lessons this week and subsequently about their items. Some things I have already chosen:
The 8 ukuleles will play and sing 3 items together: This Little Light arrangement, You are my sunshine, and This land is your land. More advanced ukulele students will play individually or in small groups as arranged in lessons.
If you have seen the musical The Greatest Showman, you will be excited to know that there will be two songs featured from that musical, A Millions Dreams (Mia and Lucas) and Never Enough (Michelle, an adult student).
There will also be a duet section this year! I love playing duets and teaching students to play duets.
The Spring Semester 2018 is fast coming to a close. The last lessons will be from Monday June 4 to Friday June 8. I will be leaving for London and Australia June 13 and returning July 24. Lessons will resume Monday July 30 and I will be teaching all August except for the last week (8/27-8/31), and then Fall Semester starts after labor day (9/3) . Some people have already let me know they want lessons in August – same times are fine.
I know that at least one student is not continuing sadly – she is done with school and is off to University. If anyone is not continuing or needs time changes please start letting me know and I will try to accommodate. I have some new students waiting to start in Fall.
I know that all kinds of things interrupt lessons: injuries, illness, school commitments and snow days but I just want to remind everyone that my studio policy is for students to attend a weekly lesson with as great regularity as possible. This ensues satisfactory progress for the student and also gives me some continuity of income. Teaching lessons is my only source of income. I love that I can earn my living this way, from my beautiful home and garden which I love to share with my students. (Can I just remind everyone that the grass at the back is still out of bounds – we are still trying to get it to grow so if you need to run, go around the big tree!) I am pretty flexible and I generally excuse students and put payments forward although my policy is to charge for the lesson if I don’t get 24 hours notice so I can reschedule makeup lessons. I fear I have not been very strict about that!
I am sorry I will be away so long over summer but I have to spend time with my grandchildren and daughters and even once every 18 months seems so little.
Fees: It would be really helpful if people could pay fees for the remaining weeks of the semester. Your email has the details but unless you have some payments moved forward, this is what you will owe:
Monday people 5 lessons
Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday and Friday people 6 lessons
Thanks so much always for learning music with the Flourishing Muse Studio!