February News 2020

Ground Hog day on Sunday- will that groundhog bring us some snow?

It seems that right now – no snow – I am sad – I love some snow, not tons but enough to be pretty! Let’s see what the old ground hog says on Sunday!

The Spring semester has started well and all students seem to be making excellent progress.  I have a few spare times (high schoolers have to quit sometimes to concentrate on sport and/or academics) but I am not anxious to take more students.  I have enough!

I love getting parent feedback so please email me any thoughts you might have about student progress or direction.

And thank you to all who have asked me are my Australian relatives OK in the terrible fires and heat.  My daughter and family live in Fremantle on the West Coast where there have been fires and 41 degree temperatures but generally things are not as serious as on the East Coast.  It is scary to be glad they live 5 minutes from the ocean when you think of towns in Victoria where people have had to leave their homes and take refuge on the beach and in the sea. The devastation of our precious animals, indigenous only to Australia, is heart breaking.  An artist known as Edward made a huge sand picture of a koala on the beach at Barwon Victoria in honour of the death of so many koalas:


I have some important dates for everyone:

DMTA Adult Student Recital will be held at Croasdaile Village Chapel on Saturday March 28 at 3 pm with a reception to follow. I encourage all adult to students to consider playing at the recital.  Last year there were all levels from beginner to more advances.  Please talk to me about playing.

The next DMTA Playathon will be held on Saturday April 25 at Brightleaf Square and my time slot is from 2:30 – 3 pm.  This would be a great way to work on your Spring Soiree piece, by playing in the playathon.  The playathon raises monwy to pay for student scholarships and I have been very fortunate to receive several student scholarships in 2019 and 2020.  The playathon last December raised $1,722! Please consider putting your name down for April 25.

The Spring Soiree will be Sunday June 7 from 3-4:30 pm at Croasdaile Village Auditorium.

Every year the DMTA holds a festival and I have more information about it – it will be on Saturday May 16.  Students prepare a piece and play it for invited specialist in their area and receive feedback.  They can also be rewarded for excellence with certificates from the DMTA.  It would be another goal to add to the ones above for a student wanting to hear more about their piano playing.  Sadly nothing for other instruments.

Finally something for younger musicians at Duke.  I really love Peter and the Wolf and hope some students might be able to go:

Duke University String School Faculty Recital
Saturday, February 1
4 pm — Nelson Music Room, East Duke Building

DUSS faculty perform Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf, with narration by David Ballantyne, WCPE Classical Station’s “Rise and Shine” presenter and producer.Free admission but donations accepted to benefit the Dorothy Kitchen Scholarship Fund.

The Scholarship Fund, named for Director Emerita Dorothy Kitchen, helps families in the community who would not be able to participate in the Duke University String School otherwise. 100% of funds donated go directly to families in need.

Happy New Year

I hope you are all having a great holiday break wherever you are.  I enjoyed some time in South Carolina on the beach but am now working on the new semester, Spring 2020.
Lessons begin on Monday January 6, 2020 at your usual times unless you have let me know you need a change.  I know that is hard till everyone gets back to school but let me know changes as soon as you can.  Let me know if you are no longer going to take lessons also, as I have 4 on my waiting list.
For those who have seen the news, the bushfires are indeed terrible in Australia mostly on the east coast (ie Queenland, NSW and Victoria).  However, my eldest daughter lives on the west coast where there are fewer fires,  and more importantly lives near the sea where some towns in Victoria have had to take refuge!
I am looking forward to seeing all my students again.  A break is lovely but a bit lonely!
FYI, I will be taking a two week spring break from Monday 4/6 to Friday 4/17, and the semester will end June 12.  I am planning the Spring Soiree for June 7
Be safe, have fun, and see you next week.

November and Soirée 2019 News

The Soirée

Welcome to new students and performers! I call my twice yearly concerts Soirées which is not technically quite correct (afternoon time!) 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 Soirée for Fall 2019 will take place on Sunday Dec 8 from 3 -5 pm in the Croasdaile Auditorium, at Croasdaile Village.  The clearest directions 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

Welcome new families!  It can be a bit confusing getting to the right place at Croasdaile so leave lots of time.  Enter the campus via the gated guard box and turn left into the large double carriageway. Please make sure you park in the visitor carpark beside the American Flag, not on the divided road leading up to the entrance.  Come in the big covered entrance and register at the desk and ask directions to the Auditorium.

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. 

I invite my new students to come to their first Soirée so they can see what happens and how their colleagues play. I also invite my adult students to come and support the students who are performing. 

Here is some information for performers:

The ukuleles and guitar performances will be first in the program, followed by a selection of piano duets and student compositions. After this the pianists will perform and to finish the singers will have their turn.  I am not planning an intermission but will have very short breaks after each section to reset. Everyone who is performing should try to arrive no later than 2:40 with ukuleles and guitars in tune.  I know a couple of students have other prior engagements and are coming when they can but I would really appreciate it if people could come and stay for the whole event.  

Flourishing Muse Soirée Etiquette

  • Please arrive 20 minutes early in order to get settled. 
  • Please dress nicely. Think Sunday best – jeans are OK if nice jeans, no holes.  Girls please wear long pants or leggings if they are on the stage.
  • Practice stage presence and bows at home. Walk up to the piano, take your seat, make sure the bench height is right for you, take some seconds to orient yourself and then play. When you are finished, get up from the piano, move away from the bench, and bow from the waist to acknowledge the applause.This adds polish to your performance and most importantly, acknowledges the audience appreciation.
  • Please remain seated when you are not playing and plan to stay at least for your half. It is impolite to leave early. 
  • Talking and moving about are distracting to the performer and audience. Please be a polite listener. 
  • If an emergency makes it impossible for you to arrive on time, please wait until an item is finished before taking a seat.
  • Applause should consist of clapping only.
  • Flash photography is PROHIBITED during a performance. If you wish to take a photograph, please wait until the student has finished the performance. Only people who have the permission of the parent should take photographs of students under 18. You can video your student performance but don’t interrupt the view of others in the audience. 
  • Food and beverages are not allowed in the auditorium.
  • Cell phones, pagers, and other electronic devices should be turned off during the performance. 


The Soirée 2019 program will be ready before thanksgiving and I will send out for corrections and changes.  Some people are playing the same pieces but I like students to choose their performance piece and if they choose the same, we will have a wonderful variety of interpretations.

Warming up:

All students should warm up their pieces, their fingers, and/or their voices before arriving at the Soirée.


Music practice is sometimes a fraught subject! Of course any skill is greatly enhanced by practice but the right kind of practice is critical.  The brain needs to be engaged. With the piano and the strings, you need to focus on a practice plan.  Everyone is different but for me, I must do exercises first to warm up and work on technical issues, then I will work on the piece(s) i next need to perform.  Some people have a warm-up piece they like to play to get in the groove.  If I have time I will play things I want to learn or things I just enjoy playing.  But the important practice needs to happen before the pleasure, because your focus is sharper at the beginning of your practice, and it declines gradually as your practice time extends.  You can’t do worthwhile practice just sitting at the piano or ukulele or guitar and twiddling away.

However practice is a subject which needs to be age specific.  Young people need less time than older, but the most important thing I think for young people is practice has to come from self-motivation.  You cannot force practice.  It must be something they either want to do or are willing to do without being forced.  Often you want to demand that someone practice but it only sets up resistance.  

Motivation is the key.  It is the teacher’s job to set up motivation but the parents to encourage and show interest (sorry parents, your eyelids might be drooping but hang in there with the “I love that piece”.  It works).  I don’t always succeed with the motivation and I have various strategies but the twice yearly Soirées are part of it.  Yes, I have students who feel they cannot perform in front of people, but I have many more who look forward to the Soirees as a goal they have reached to mark their improvement.  


Singers are in a special category.  Singing is so embodied that you need to at least use your singing voice every day, and you need to be much more specific about warming up.  Lip trills are crucial on a daily basis.  Then you need to practice your pieces as often as you can.  Mostly I teach older singers and high school age singers. The little ones need to sing too but I like piano players to sing as they play. Ukulele and guitar players have to do double practice!

Finally, playing music is about enjoying your playing and/or singing.  Please enjoy the weeks leading up to the Soirée – I am going to!


PS. One of my students gave me a very old music magazine and I thought you might like to see the cover.  The date is May 1918.  Even I was not alive then and in fact my mother was only 11 years old.  Note what is says about music “A Present National Necessity”.  

Lorna Collingridge PhD

Lessons in Piano, Ukulele, Voice and Composition


Flourishing Muse LLC

Playathon October 2019

A number of students performed at the Durham Music Teachers Association Playathon on Saturday October 26.  All were terrific and friends and family and other audience members really enjoyed listening to them.  Here is the program:

Annabel Haynes: Deck the Halls (solo), Jingle Bells (duet with her mother Erin Van Scoyoc)

Oscar McCormick: Boxcar, Jumping Jazzy Cat, (all from memory) (I think Oscar played more pieces – great performer!)

Khaleel Jackson: Für Elise (main theme), In the Hall of the Jazz Kings (very well played)

Mia Pieraccini: Superheroes (Script) (Mia accompanied herself singing – very challenging and she did so well)

Ave Pieraccini: Us (James Bay) (Ava accompanied her singing on Ukulele)

Lucas Bartosik: The Sounds of Silence (Paul Simon) (Lucas also accompanied his singing on ukulele)

All students performed to a very high standard.  I hope they are all going to perform again at the Soireè on Sunday December 8.

The playathon raises money to provide scholarships for students who otherwise could not afford to take music lessons. It is wonderful to see students who are able to take music lessons support those who find it hard.  Well done!

I did take some still photos.  I am not easy about video in a public performance and I am not a great videographer so has to be stills

Annabel and her mother Erin Van Scoyoc

Annabel and her mother Erin Van Scoyoc

Oscar McCormick

Khaleel Jackson

Mia Pieraccini

Ava Pieraccini

Lucas Bartosik

November is upon us!

The year is coming to a close!  Seems like summer was only yesterday; hang on it WAS only last week!

Important dates and information I need from everyone:

Monday people in November: there are four Mondays in November if you are coming on Veterans day; if not please let me know today.  Fees due will be $130 for 4 Mondays, or $97.50 for 3.

Tuesday people in November: There are 4 Tuesdays fees $130.

Wednesday people in November: 4 Tuesdays fees $130

Thursday people in November:  Thanks giving is on 11/28 so there will be 3 Thursday in November 

Friday people in November:  There would be 5 Fridays in November but I am not teaching 11/15 as I have a small procedure to get done, and then 11/29 is part of thanksgiving, so there will be 3 Fridays in November.

Which brings me to December and the Soirée, Sunday 12/8/19  I need to know who is able to perform at the Soirée and what they are going to perform. I will be talking to students this week and subsequently.  After thanksgiving there will only be one more lesson before the Soirée.  After the Soirée, lessons will continue to December 22 if you are able to come during those weeks.  I do encourage students to continue as long as they can because then there will be a two week break.  Lessons will commence in 2020 on Monday January 6.

I would love new students to perform at the Soirée but if you prefer, you could just come and see what it is all like.  The Soirée is quite informal and your family and friends, your fellow students and the Croasdaile residents would love to hear what you have been working on.

More to come later on the Soirée!

September News and Dates

The Fall has started well with students getting right into new repertoire. There are also several new piano students who are as keen as mustard (is that advertising for Keen’s Mustard?).

There are going to be a lot of dates in this newsletter so remember newsletters are also on line in my blog if you need to refer to them later.


The December Flourishing Muse holiday Soiree will be on Sunday December 8, at 3 pm in the usual place, Croasdaile Village Auditorium.  Please put this in your diary now and let me know any clashes.  I cannot choose another date because Croasdaile hosts many such events and I have to get in early and choose my date.  Students should already be thinking about their Soiree performance pieces because the piece should not be something you choose in November – by October 1 you should have a fair idea about what you are going to share with your family and friends.


The Durham Music Teachers Association (DMTA) organizes opportunities for students to perform each year.  The events are fund raisers for their scholarships for students who are finding it hard to pay for music lessons.  I am happy to tell you that two of my students received scholarships this year.  I would really love students to perform at one of the playathons and I will talk about it in lessons.  Duets would be very popular.  The performers can be from beginners up to advanced.  The playathons last all day but each teacher has thier own 1/2 hour timeei

The 2019 Playathons are:

Saturday October 26, from 2:30 – 3 (for my students) at Brightleaf Square in the auditorium next to El Rodeo.  Each student contributes $5.

Saturday December 7 at bright Leaf Square, time to be announced but probably afternoon.  (This one is before the Soiree I know but would be a great warm up!)

I will make a list for the October playathon in lessons.  Performers can play piano, ukulele or could sing and/or play.

Master Classes:

In 2020 the DMTA will be holding voice master classes.  I have a couple of voice students whom I will invite to participate.  I understand that there will be separate master classes for classical repertoire and one for theater and a new category – CCM.  This acronym stands for Contemporary Commercial Music.  It is not an area where I feel I have much expertise but there are now universities which are offering courses in CCM, for example the Department of Voice at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music and the CCM Vocal Pedagogy Institute at Shenandoah University. Dates for the DMTA Master classes will be announced soon.

DMTA Recitals:

The DMTA also holds student recitals at Croasdaile but typically I do not submit students for these.  However I am the Chair for the Adult Recital which will be Saturday March 21, from 305 pm followed by a reception with nice nibbles and adult beverages.  (Adult students:  I will also be holding an Adult Salon at my home sometime before thanksgiving, date TBA)


I heard rumors that Halloween might be celebrated on the nearest Saturday and helpful though that sounds to me, it is probably not going to happen.  Thursday 10/31/19 students will need to decide if they want to come to lessons that day.  I usually stop at 6 pm on Halloween because I am then inundated with trick or treaters.  I can also accommodate students on another day if you let me know early.


Thanks to all for prompt payment of fees.  Monday students I have to apologize – I assumed that there were 4 Mondays in September but there are 5.  You know what they say about assuming and yes, I feel like a donkey!  Just a heads up that Monday students will need to pay for September 30 plus 4 lessons in October!


The Fall Schedule is correct on my blog and you might notice there are a few spare spaces.  I am not anxious to fill them but I have offered one to the person on the top of on my waiting list.  They have not got back to me yet so not sure if they are still interested. Just so you know!

Let’s hope for rain and a sweet cool Fall!