July News and happy 4th!

Spring semester has come to an end although the weather seems more like August than June!
In July and August I will have a summer schedule and I think I have most people’s dates entered but I am going to send some text reminders at times just to make sure we are all on the same scheduling page.  I will endeavor to put fees for July in the first July email if you are having July lessons and the same in August.  I think everyone has my dates but just in case I will also put them below.  Red indicates the times I will be away visiting one daughter or another (there is another beach week in there as well!)  Sorry I am going to be absent at times this year!  That is the trouble with having a daughter in the Uk and one in Australia!
There will be one week of lessons in the week beginning with Labor Day 9/2.  I really need to see all the students that week before I go to Australia because I will be away for 4 weeks.  I will be teaching Labor Day but if you cannot come maybe I can fit you in later that week.
Once I am back and teaching it will be my Fall semester – always short but this time even shorter!  I will try to book the Holiday Soirée for December 6.
I have the same schedule (almost) that was operating in Spring and it is on my website under the schedule page.  Please look at it and give me notice of either not continuing, or whether you already know you need another day or time.  I need to put it in my dairy but of course I know once school starts, things can change.
Continue to have a wonderful safe hopefully cooler summer and Happy 4th July to everyone!  I will be at Oval Park 10 am for the parade, singing, flags and the pledge.

Happy Memorial Day 2024

This is almost the last week of the long Spring semester although I hope to see most students at least for the first week in June.
Summer and Fall dates were sent last week and I am glad to see that quite a few students want to continue lessons even though there are unfortunately gaps when I will
be away.
The Soirée – is almost here.  This coming Friday May 31 at ERUUF Sanctuary.  We will begin at 5:30 pm but I will be there from 5 pm onwards for students to warm up and families to find places to sit in the lovely sanctuary.  The Soirée should finish no later than 6:45.  Below I will put the program as it is right now.  Most Important:  Check your entry for spelling, make sure I have included everyone, and that your piece(s) are correct. I have made an order but that can change.  I really want everyone to stay the full hour which is why I have chosen the late afternoon time but I realise there is a lot on right now as school finishes. If you need an earlier slot or a later one, let me know.  Remember no food or drink in the Sanctuary, other than water in a closed bottle.
ERUUF – The Eno River Unitarian Universalist Fellowship – is non-denominational and all faiths (and non-faiths) are very welcome.  The address is:
4907 Garrett Rd, Durham, NC 27707
website:  https://www.eruuf.org/ (The best directions are on the website)
I really like this venue because it is large and airy with tiered seating, has good parking, is beautiful in a serene forested setting, and has a very nice grand piano.  I do not have a grand piano so I want all students to have the experience of playing a grand piano (although I know some families do have their own). ERUUF is costly to hire but having these recitals is an important part of my teaching, giving students twice yearly goals and an opportunity to see their colleagues perform.  I don’t charge a fee for the soirées but if any family feels they would like to make a small contribution I would really appreciate it.  I had free venues for many years until the pandemic but for various reasons I feel the time has come for a more professional venue.
Soirée Program Spring 2024

Mary-Russell Roberson and Lorna Collingridge:

Theme from Piano Concerto no. 21 – Mozart

Rhapsody on a theme of Paganini – Rachmaninoff

Elijah Berenbaum:

Arctic Voices – Susan Griesdale

Cecilia Triche-Rowe:

“Me!” – Taylor Swift

Marley Craig:

Come see the Parade – duet

Down by the station – Traditional

Zelda McCormick:

Pumpkin Boogie – Faber

Menuetto op 37 no 2 – James Hook

Mac Jones:

Tamborine Party – Faber

Poor Fuzzy Wuzzy – Sunny Solos

Cohen Andrews:

“Bones” – Robin Fredrickson et al

Adam Hartman:

Jumping Jazz Cat – Faber

Spanish Caballeros – Faber

Emily El-Tanany:

Reflection from Mulan – arr. Faber

Indians – Alfred

Oscar McCormick:

Sonatina in G major – Beethoven

All Too Well – Taylor Swift

Marten Sipe:

Erie Canal – Traditional American

Ida Levy:

Amazing Grace – traditional

The Great Wall of China – Faber

Tyler Nordgren:

Ode to Joy – Beethoven

Andrew Hartman:

Valhalla Calling – Gavin Dunne arr. M. Mainguy

Tessa Nayo:

Nuvole Bianche – Ludovico Einardi

Jikai Sipkins-Chenn:

Flip Flops – Gary K Thomas

Louise Downs:

Für Elise – Beethoven

Sam Sipe:

Sonata in C minor op. 17 no. 2 III movt – JC Bach

Prelude op. 28 no. 20 – Chopin

Pat Wigfall:

To a Wild Rose – Edward MacDowell

Prelude in Dd Major op 17 no 2 – Chopin

Lucas Bartosik:

Waltz in B Minor (post. No. 2) – Chopin

Thank you to all who learn piano with me.

DMTA Festival 2024

Thank you so much to all the students who participated in the Durham Music Teachers Association (DMTA) festival Saturday May 18.  Your support for this professional organization is much appreciated.  Thank you to Sarah Weaver, Elijah’s Mom, who volunteered during the morning session.  Thank you to all the parents who support their students learning piano, and thank you to my adult students who help support me in my studio.  Thank you also to parents who have sent donations when their student could not be in the Festival.

All students did really well (even if they think they did not!).  Three levels were awarded, bronze, silver or gold.  Of my students two received gold awards and five silver, an excellent result!  And I have all my books back so thank you students!

I also enjoyed the festival where I met some new colleagues and talked to colleagues I have known for a long time.  I attended a composition workshop and I will have more to say about my ideas stemming from that in a later email and in talks with students in lessons.

I want to ask students these questions:

What did you think about seeing 272 other students all being able to play a musical instrument?  What did you think about being on the Duke University campus in the music department where college students study music? How many of your friends can sit down at the piano and play great music?  How much practice did you put in over the weeks preceding the festival?

Your piano teacher’s job is to equip you with piano playing skills, guide you through learning your pieces, and give you feedback on your progress. After this it is up to you to put in the practice.  The problem with playing a musical instrument is that a few days intensive practice can help but it is regular practice over a longer period of time that leads to great enjoyable performances; as your teacher I can’t practice for you even if I wished I could!

There were 273 students performing at the festival, taught by 33 music teachers.  It was a very successful Festival.  I will have certificates for participating students in their lessons.

Now for the Soirée, May 31, at ERUUF, (5:30 pm) – two weeks to get ready!

Durham Children’s Choir

Last Saturday afternoon May 12, I went to hear the Durham Children’s Choir give their 20th anniversary concert at the Hayti Heritage Center.  I was delighted to hear one of my piano students sing in the Cantare Group.  Marten Sipe told me he really liked singing in the choir, and at the concert his favorite song was Donna Nobis Pacem. I thought all 3 groups sang really well; the older group, Bel Canto, was outstanding.  If there are other students who would like to investigate joining the choir please go to their website, https://www.durhamchildrenschoir.org/

DMTA 2024 Festival May 18

Tomorrow Saturday May 18, eight of my students will participate in the Durham Music Teachers Association (DMTA) Festival.  It is held every May but had not been held during the pandemic, so this is the first year it has fully operated.  33 teachers have submitted 270 students and the organizers have worked extremely hard to get it all happening. The Festival is held in the Mary Duke Biddle music rooms and piano experts are the adjudicators.  Students play one-on-one for their adjudicator and all receive a certificate and comments.  It is great to have a different teacher hear you play!  If you have not entered this year, maybe consider it next year.  Students really benefit from having a goal to work towards, and I am always amazed what an upcoming performance produces in terms of accelerated progress! (ps: adult students can also enter)
These are the 8 students and their age groups:
Zelda Mc Cormick (5-8 yrs)
Emily El-Tanany (5-8 yrs)
Louise Downs (9-11 yrs)
Tyler Nordgren (9-11 yrs)
Elijah Berenbaum (12-13 yrs)
Tessa Nayo (12-13 yrs)
Oscar McCormick (12-13 yrs)
Lucas Bartosik (14-15 yrs)
Wish them Good Luck!

May Events

May is going to be a busy month!

May 4 is the Durham School of the Arts Piano Festival at which I will be adjudicating although the DSA students I teach will be heard by other adjudicators (Lucas, Tessa and Aurora).  Good luck to all participants.

May 18 is the Durham Music Teachers Association music festival at Duke University Mary Duke Biddle building.  These Flourishing Muse students have agreed to participate and more could do so if interested.

Years 5-8: Emily, and Zelda

Years 9-11: Louise and Ida

years 12-13: Elijah, Tessa and Oscar

Years 14-15: Lucas

I will be registering students online April 26.  All students need to give me $15 per student entry fees and I will then pay the DMTA by check.  It is easier that way and means less work for the festival organizers.  You can pay me any of the usual ways.

May 31 is the Flourishing Muse Spring Soirée at ERUUF and students are already preparing for this.

I hope some students are considering summer piano camps.  There are some great ones including the UNCG Piano camp (and I understand two students have already registered), and the Meredith College and UNC piano camps:




Did you know you can take a summer course on Taylor Swift’s songs at UNC?

MUSC 286 Music as Culture (The Music of Taylor Swift) (3) – calling all Swifties…

Focusing on the music of Taylor Swift, this course aims to develop student’s critical skills through close examination of her music and analysis of the broader set of issues facing women musicians in the popular music industry. Students will be able to describe the contributions of Swift’s oeuvre using musical and literary vocabulary, analyze her eras using the women popstar career lifecycle model, and trace the shifting cultural expectations of women in society. Students will be invited to share their expertise and personal experiences related to the “Swiftie” community with its insular fan culture from music video Easter eggs to friendship bracelets…Are you ready for it?