May News plus summer lessons 2022

The Durham Music Teachers Association conducted a wonderful playathon on Sunday April 30 at Sutton Place.  Fifteen of my students performed, all very well, and families and friends sat outdoors in nice weather enjoying the music.  Dr Frank Pitman kindly supplied a really nice digital piano and sound system so we could all hear it very well.  It was so great for students to hear each other play.  I am organizing a holiday concert for the end of Fall semester and hopefully covid will not prevent it.

Speaking of covid I have had several families with or in contact with covid and I hope all are not very ill.  I am still set up for remote lessons so if anyone needs to go remote for a week just let me know.  And because I am traveling to the UK in about 3 weeks I am anxious to avoid being positive and having to delay my flight so for the next few weeks I will be wearing my mask.  Students can choose to or not but just so they know why I will be wearing mine.  I did buy travel insurance for the first time in my life, but in light of the first world wide pandemic in my lifetime it is necessary!

There are 3 more weeks of May lessons counting this week before I leave for the UK to spend time with my daughter and family.  I will be away all of June; I am coming back on 6/18 but then I am going to the mountains.  Summer lessons will be from July 4 to August 25, an eight week block.  I want to offer flexible lessons so students do not have such a long break away from their music.  How this works best is if you tell me you want some summer lessons and what weeks, days and times you might want those lessons.  I usually try to offer lessons Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays during summer.  So far I have several students signed up and of course that is great for me not just financially, but I too get bored in the long summer break and I miss my students and parents!  I know most students are in camps in summer so I am happy to offer lessons between 4-6:30 or so after camps usually end. I can also offer online lessons but as you know, I think in-person is easier for both teacher and student, but the offer is there.  Some people might want to keep their Spring lesson times; just let me know.

Fall will start the Tuesday after labor day as usual.  If by any chance you already know you will not be taking lessons in Fall that would be sad, but useful information as I plan the rest of the year. I do have some people on my waiting list.

I do apologize for my piano A key which is not behaving well, but thank goodness the tuner from Ruggero is coming May 24.  If you need piano work I can highly recommend Ruggero Piano who have been great at keeping my busy studio piano in good repair.

Stay well and safe everyone.

April/May News

Examination Results:

I would like to congratulate Kavisha Saram on achieving First Class Honors in her level 4 RCM Piano Examination.  She opted to take an online examination early so she could concentrate on her end of semester school work.  Level 4 is challenging as all the RCM exams are but especially so online.  Kavisha has done an amazing job considering the demands of her high school classes. (The Royal Conservatory of Music is based in Toronto in Canada but has a US connection. I have been submitting students for RCM examinations since 2012).

End of Spring Semester:

We have one more month of lessons before I leave for the UK to visit my youngest daughter and her husband, and my grandson.  The last day of Spring lessons will be Thursday May 26. I will be teaching during the summer so please let me know if you are interested in summer lessons during the times I have available.

Summer lessons: 

Summer lessons will be available from 6/27/22 to 8/19/22 which will be 8 weeks in total.  I will be away at the beach the last week in August – lucky me!  I can be flexible about times and days but would still like to keep Fridays free for my own projects.

Fall semester will commence Tuesday 9/6/22 after labor day and will go until 12/17.  Fall is a short semester only 1/2 as long at Spring.

Holiday Recital:

Some very exciting news!  I have a possible venue for an in person Holiday Recital.  I have really missed the soirees I used to have at Croasdaile Auditorium before the pandemic hit us.  I really see the benefit of having these recitals and I can see there is a difference without them.  Learning a musical instrument can be a bit lonely but if you can play for friends and family and see others play it really gives you a good perspective on what makes sharing music so enjoyable and important.  The date will be sometime either just before or after thanksgiving so more news will be forthcoming and when it is, I hope everyone can commit to coming even if you feel you cannot play.

Ukulele Lessons:

I think I have mentioned to everyone that I am not taking new guitar or ukulele students – I do not have time to commit to practicing anything other than piano these days, but I still have my twins whom I have been teaching since they were 4 and wrote their first song “The Chicken Crossed the Road”.  They have made huge advances since then and will be playing and singing at the playathon.


I would like to commend several students for their practicing techniques, and I am not naming people because I really hope that everyone tries to practice and uses good practicing habits.  I love that one student recently asked could she warm up with her Hanon exercises before playing for me!  This tells me that is how she starts her practices.  Another student’s parent asked me could his son practice for a longer time.  Sure, I said and I suggested this routine and I am looking forward to hearing what has been achieved:

  1. Exercises – dozen a day or Hanon for 5 minutes
  2. Your newest piece and try the hardest sections first while you are fresh, maybe 10 -15 minutes.
  3. Your pieces that you want to keep in your repertoire list – not every piece every day but keep a record so you don’t miss one for a long time, 10 minutes 
  4. If you are composing music leave this till last but it is a great way to end your practice.

These times are for a student who has been learning for a year – newer students might work on shorter times.  I would like to commend another student for just loving Dozen a day.  I tell students if you can learn all 5 groups in Dozen a day book 1 (green), you are well on the way to good piano technique.  It is an old series but still terrific! And always have a pencil ready to mark places that might need a bit of extra effort.  I love having a high lighter which I have to use to remind me of things I keep missing in a piece.

May Fees:

Not due till next week but would really appreciate if everyone could pay their May fees first week in May so I can get myself ready for travel.

Thanks always for learning with Flourishing Muse Studio!  

DMTA Playathon April 30

The DMTA Playathon is this coming Saturday 4/30 from 2-3 pm at Sutton Place, at the studio of Dr Frank Pitman (Piano Academy of North Carolina, 5836 Fayetteville Rd, Ste 101,Durham NC.

The location will be in the breezeway between Duke Regional Pediatrics and All In Dance Academy. Pianists will be performing on a Yamaha N2 AvantGrand. A few chairs will be available.  Families may bring their own lawn chairs if they wish.

Reminder: $5 per performer donation

I will be there by 1:30 pm on Saturday.

Reminders:  Please remember your music.  Ukulele players can you bring a music stand please? Parents bring chairs.  I think the weather is going to be kind to us.  Bring your $5 for the scholarship fund. A microphone will be provided.

Here is the list of performers and I will make a program but there is no particular order unless you want to let me know you would rather be of the first or the second half hour.  I am hoping most of you will stay for the hour but I know there are a lot of events on now in spring.

Mary-Russell and Lorna:  Irish Air and Fingal’s Cave

Louise: Energico and Fiesta España

Pascale: Snowflake Rag and Cruella

Marten:  The Donkey and Baa Baa

Sean: Battle of the Foxes, Monday can’t buy everything

Zelda: Twinkle duet

Oscar: Energico, Menuet

Mai: Erie Canal, Malaguena

Ida: Beach party

Louisa: Joshua

Anna: pleasant morning, Erie canal

Nate: this land is you land, Russian Sailor dance

Elijah:  Oh Chanukah, Rebbe Elimilech

Ava:  Thinking out Loud

Leo :  Good People

Playathon April 2022

I am looking forward to seeing my students again tomorrow and make sure when you come to see my beautiful new picture windows!  So happy.  Also my room has been painted and looks clean and new!

I am also excited to give you details of the next Durham Music Teachers Association Playathon, which will be held at Dr Frank Pitman’s studio at Sutton Station, 5836 Fayetteville Rd, Studio 10, Durham NC 27713 on Saturday April 30.  Dr Pitman is very generously lending one of his really nice pianos and it will be situated in the breezeway close by his studio.  

I have asked for the hour between 2-3 on the Saturday and I really hope many of my students will participate.  The playathon raises money for the DMTA scholarships which is a very worthy cause – they help students to experience music lessons which they may not otherwise be able to afford. It is also a rare opportunity for my students to play for their colleagues and for our community.  Sadly I have not been able to find a venue for my usual Soirées.  I will be asking students in lessons this week if they can participate but of course parents are involved!  Maybe you could combine a trip to the Mall on that Saturday.

Here are more details from the DMTA:

Breezeway next to Regional Pediatrics

5832 Fayetteville Rd

Durham, NC 27713

Parking available in front of Duke Regional Pediatrics or around the back of Sutton Station.

Masks required.

Participants and guests at the DMTA 2022 Spring Playathon will be socially welcoming, socially responsible, & socially distanced. ~Public health and safety, first~

A few chairs will be available. Guests may bring their own lawn chairs if they’d like.

See you all this coming week.

Masks Information March 2022

Mask Update 3/7/22

Hello Students and parents,

The city of Durham has ended the indoor mask mandate from Monday 3/7/22.  This is the information they sent:

Post Date:02/28/2022

DURHAM, N.C. – The City and County of Durham will remove the indoor mask mandate, effective Monday, March 7, 2022, at 12:01 a.m. Durham Public Health Director Rod Jenkins announced at tonight’s Durham County Commissioners’ Board meeting.

Although the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) website still shows Durham as a high transmission area, Durham officials say that the metrics, including the laboratory testing positivity rate, now at 4.8%, and in-patient bed count, currently at 134 across Durham healthcare facilities, are continuing to trend downward, falling within the CDC’s newly issued guideline of fewer than 200 in-patient hospital beds.

Therefore I will be ending the mandatory use of masks in my studio and waiting room for those parents and students who are comfortable not wearing a mask.  If a new variant arises or the local county transmission rate rises I may have to reinstate masks for everyone.

I am probably going to continue to wear my mask for a while and I hope that is OK.  I have a heart condition and I am 76 years old so I need to be cautious.  I will probably always wear my mask in shops and at appointments but after I see how things go for the next two weeks I am take my mask off.  (I have been very fortunate not to ever get covid when many of my colleagues and friends have had breakthrough infections.) 

Now the weather is so nice (mostly) everyone can sit unmasked out on the deck!

I think most of my older students are vaccinated.  If you or your students are not vaccinated can you let me know because in those lessons I would want to wear my mask. I am fully vaccinated including the booster.  

I really hope that covid is going to die down and we can start to live in our new normal.

Be safe, be healthy, and practice piano!

February News

Sorry about the ground hog predicting 6 more weeks of Winter  🥶

But it is warm inside and there’s piano playing…

I hope everyone is healthy and avoiding the virus and indeed all the viruses, cold and flu which are around too. Thanks to everyone for wearing a mask in lessons and good girl Zelda for reminding me to put mine on after I had been teaching online.

Fees are due for February and for most people that is 4 weeks or $140 unless you have more learning.  Thanks to everyone for getting fees to me at the beginning for the month.

I am so happy that so many students are practicing and therefore making such good progress.  I am not going to name the splendid examples of students who are practicing – you know who you are.  So happy that many parents report loving hearing their student play.

I am also very chuffed (Australian for a combination of satisfied, very happy, delighted – if you like it you can use it too) that two siblings are playing duets together.  Louise and Ida, excellent work!  I love to play duets and Mary-Russell and I have have been playing together for quite a few years.  I have tons of lovely duets, from easy to challenging, classic to jazz – any students who want to play duets just ask me.  Parents who play – how about a duet with your student?

Even more exciting news!  I have a number of students who are composing music.  Sam and Sean have both got great compositions on the go.  Am waiting for some others to get going.  You can play a composition for me and I will help you write it down or you can download some manuscript paper for free and write out your notes and again I can edit.  Sam has managed to download a free version of Finale and teach himself to use it in one week!  I can show students how Finale works (it is very expensive to buy sadly) but teaching them to use it means they have to have this free version which is only available for windows not Mac.  There are other music notation softwares, but Finale is the one I guess I am expert on. 

Performance opportunities:  I am still pondering in person or online but at the end of March two things are going to happen:

  1. Nyssa Collins and I are going to have a little online symposium for composers.  She has some student composers and so do I so we are planning for them to play for each other and share ideas.
  2. I am either going to have an online Zoom concert or I am going to find a safe venue to have a concert (by hook or by crook).  And duets will be involved.

Travel news:  I have finally booked to go and see at least one daughter.  I leave May 29 for the UK and possibly return to the USA June 18 this year.  I doubt I will be able to go on to Australia but if I can I will also be away most of July.  Will keep everyone updated.  I hope to teach a summer program in August and start the Fall semester after labor day as usual.