Spring Soirée 2023

First Happy Mother’s Day to all the wonderful mothers and I hope you kids are spoiling them today!
The Soirée on Friday evening was just wonderful as always.  I don’t want to single out individuals but there were so many great performances by students who were so focussed, so creative, so expressive, so brilliant, so technically secure that I was amazed!  Well done everyone!  Thank you so much to all the families who came with grandparents and family friends – I love that!.  I will talk to students at lessons and I want to ask them what they thought of their colleagues’ playing and the pieces they played.  It is so important that students see their colleagues and the progress they have all made.  I was impressed by how many played from memory!
At the Soirée I had some small gifts for students and many did not pick up their gifts so if you did not I will have one for you at lessons this week.
I love my granddaughter’s art work for the Soiree Program.  I told her I loved owls and flowers!
Thank you so much to those who contributed to the hiring fee at the Soirée.  It has so helped me and I have ended up I think only paying $10 of the $340, thank you thank you!  Trip to Germany looming.  This is a long awaited trip to the home of my PhD subject, Hildegard of Bingen.  Bingen is a town on the Rhine river.  I finished my PhD and graduated in 2004 so I really have to take this trip and visit the Hildegard Abbey in Bingen while still able to do so.  But don’t worry I am not planning to stop being active just yet!
I need some indication of who might take some summer lessons or who is taking all summer off till Labor day.  Longer this year because I am away most of June.  Knowing this I can plan music for the summer.
Thank you all so much for learning music with my studio, Flourishing Muse!
Here is a link to the program:

The Spring Soirée

I am so happy to say that my dental and other health sagas seem to be coming to an end and I am feeling so much better that I am almost dangerous – like back to my old energy levels.  Hope this continues.
The Soirée is coming together well and there will be 23 performers, aged from 5 years to 77 years (me playing duets).  The venue is the lovely ERUUF with the good piano and tiered sanctuary.  The date is May 12 Friday at 5:30 – 6:15 (lots of young performances don’t last long).  I am going to open up at 5 and there are some more advanced players who should come early to warm up on the specific piano. A program will be coming next week but most students know what they are playing.  The last one was so wonderful I really hope everyone can come even if you are not performing.
The venue charge is $340.  It is a lot more than other venues but it is the one I want for the students and families and I will pay it.  However if there are families who can afford to make a small contribution I would be most grateful – you could add that to the May fees.  But you don’t have to – I am very fortunate in my life being able to work into my elder years.  The Soirées are really important so that students have a goal to work towards and they get to see and hear each other and socialize with their peers.  It is a critical part of my practice.
Sadly I cannot do the DSA playathon this time and had to cancel that on May 6.  I just have too much going on to manage and in addition the DSA wants me to be an adjudicator for their piano festival and that is on May 6 – cannot manage two events on the one day.  Let’s focus now on the Soirée.
May will be the last month of lessons for the Spring Semester.  I leave for Germany June 2.  I will be back teaching July and August and will send more details about summer lessons.
Practice well and am including myself in that – more than one duet!!  I am so excited about the Soirée program!

Performance Opportunities in May 2023

Durham Music Teachers Association Playathon:

As you know, the DMTA playathons raise money for scholarships for students who otherwise could not afford music lessons.  They are a great way to practice performance in a relaxed milieu, and it will be a great way to try your Soirée piece(s) out before May 12. Students contribute $5 each to the scholarship Fund.

The playathon will be on Saturday May 6 and my studio’s allotted time is 2-3 pm. This will be an outdoor playathon under an awning in case of rain (hope not).  The venue and the wonderful pianos are provided by Dr Pitman’s studio, PANC (Piano Academy of North Carolina)

We have performed at the this venue before.

The address is 5832 Fayetteville Rd, Durham, NC 27713 (Sutton Station, in the breezeway next to Regional Pediatrics)

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

Masks encouraged but not mandatory.

A few chairs will be available but I suggest bringing your own lawn chairs if possible.

Flourishing Muse Soirée:

The 2023 Spring Soirée will be held on Friday May 12 from 5:30 – 6:45 pm at ERUUF (Eno River Unitarian Universalist Fellowship) at 4907 Garrett Rd, Durham, NC 27707, the same venue as last year.  I love this venue and the piano but it is expensive to hire.  It is an important part of my studio practice and I am prepared to pay the hire because I feel it is so important.  I really want everyone to commit to playing if at all possible.  I know some feel to nervous and I certainly understand that but it is so good to share your music with colleagues and friends and family – only twice a year!

Students, especially the more advanced students, should settle what they are going to play in the next week so you will have all April to work with me on your selection.  Younger students should be thinking about what to play but we might make the decision close to the time.  I will be making lists starting today!  I would love more students to include some of their own compositions.

I really encourage students to also come and play at the playathon as a good practice for the Soirée a week later.

March Update

May Playathon:

In the February 11-12 Playathon at Brightleaf Square, $842 was raised for DMTA’s scholarship program, helping deserving students who otherwise would not be able to afford music lessons. Six studios participated. Performing were 40-45 piano students, at least 1 teacher, and for over half the time, 4 adult accordionists.

The 2023 DMTA Spring Playathon will be held in south Durham at Sutton Station—5832 Fayetteville Rd on Saturday, May 6 from 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM and on Sunday, May 7 from 12:00 PM to 5:00 PM.  The location will be in the Breezeway next to Regional Pediatrics near the Piano Academy of North Carolina (PANC).

Pianists will be performing on a Yamaha N2 AvantGrand. A Yamaha Clavinova CLP-635 will also be available for duos and piano ensembles. PANC will also provide a PA system.

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

I have nominated Saturday 5/6/ from 2-3 pm for my students to perform.

Please consider playing at the event and especially playing a duet with me or others?  I have many duet books! Pieces in your lesson books often have a teacher duet part.

Let’s celebrate!

Lucas Bartosic performed at a piano competition Sunday February 18 at St Joseph’s AMR Church.  Each year, Beta Phi, Durham’s graduate chapter of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. sponsors a Talent Hunt Competition.  The competition is open to area High School students (grades 9th -12th) in the categories of Classical and Semi-Classical (Show tunes) Piano, Instrumental and Vocal music.  Lucas was the youngest performer and although he did not win he played very well as he usually does!

Emily El-Tanany performed at the Mowton Throwdown at her School, Hillandale Elementary on Friday February 24.  Emily is in grade 1 and has not been learning piano very long but she got up on the stage and played “Beauty and the Beast” perfectly to much acclaim from the audience!  Very well done Emily.

Ruggero Piano

Each month Ruggero Piano hosts wonderful concerts usually on Friday evening.  You can check these out on their website and in addition the concerts are streamed live on their YouTube channel:  www.ruggeropiano.com.

The Flourishing Muse May Soirée 2023

The first Soirée of 2023 will be held at ERUUF on May 12 from 5:00 – 6:30 pm.  Students should be considering what they might play at the Soirée, and the prior playathon could be a good time to try out your piece(s).

Spring Break and March fees

I know there are various Spring break and trips abroad happening in March so please let me know the lessons you are not going to be coming to music.  I thought about taking a Spring Break myself but abandoned that idea because schools and colleges and workplaces are all taking break at different times!  I wish they could get coordinated.  So let me know when you might not be coming and make adjustments to your fees appropriately.

Online lessons:

With colds and covid still around I am able to teach online either on FaceTime or Zoom.  Had some unfortunate Zoom experiences last week because I did not realize that the default setting on Zoom cuts out background noise ie piano, in favor of voices.  I know know the setting that will work for piano lessons!

Thanks Always for learning music with Flourishing Muse Studio!


I have not tried this myself but there are families that might be interested:

Classical Music Listening Group on Zoom

In our February 11th Listening session, we learned about Joseph Bologne (1745 – 1799), who was known in his time as “the Black Mozart”. His various adventures as a champion fencer, violin virtuoso, composer, conductor and member of the French nobility were fascinating. We learned of his connections with Hadyn, Marie Antoinette, Mozart, and the Prince of Wales. We listened to the first movement of his Second Symphony in D major three times – once as a sound file, once as a video where we watched a performance by the Du Bois Orchestra of Cambridge, and once with a full score. We found this music to be very different from the Bartok violin concerto we heard in January.  Bologne’s music was light and cheerful and felt celebratory. We were also amazed that a complete movement of a symphony could be less than four minutes long!

Our next Listening session will be Saturday, March 11th at 5 pm ET.  In this session we will hear music by a wonderful woman composer.  Join us to find out who the mystery composer will be!  These sessions are perfect for students of any age or level, who play any instrument. The group sessions are also ideal for teachers and for families and friends. Even people who don’t know anything about classical music enjoy learning in this fun, community-based environment.  The session will be presented via Zoom and will last one hour.

Learn more about our monthly listening program, and fill out the RSVP form at the bottom of the following page:


On the day of the event, we will send a Zoom link to each person who would like to attend.

If you’re new to our Listening program, you might want to read this article before our next session. You’ll get to know me a little, and learn why I’m so passionate about this direction of musicianship.


Hope to see you online on March 11th!

Julie Harris,Composition and Piano Teacher, Listener

DMTA Playathon February 2023

Thank you so much to the 15 students and their parents, grandparents and fan clubs who came to Brightleaf on Sunday!  I love these casual get-togethers where the students can listen to each other play and the young ones can get inspired by the more experienced players.  I don’t want to single students out but I will tell them my comments in lessons. Everyone did so well from my two newest students, Mac and Cohen to my high schooler Sam, and Andrew, who has been learning with me from 2012 (I think).

Thanks so much to Brightleaf for providing free space and to Maus Pianos for providing that lovely baby grand!  The space was a bit bare and not well lit but next year we hope to use the space near Niko Restaurant opposite the walkway.

Some students have told me they have auditioned for groups and been accepted:  Sam in the state concert band for trombone, Lucas in the the highest level chamber chorus at DSA, and Emily in the Motown Throwdown talent show at Hillandale Elementary.  Many congratulations and please tell me more about your extra curricular activities.  I went to see Jikai’s play at his school (Montessori School), True Story of the 3 Little Pigs.  It was so wonderful they could have put it on at the DPAC!  I know Elijah is in a play at his school too.  I love to go to these events and see what my students are doing!

The playathons are a fund raiser for the scholarship program at the DMTA.  Students who could not otherwise afford music lessons can receive a semester scholarship to pay the fees.

There will be another playathon in April – details to be announced but it will be out near the Mall.

Two students could not come sadly but here are the ones who did and what they played:

DMTA Playathon Program February 2023, Brightleaf Square

Lucas: “I know him so well” from the musical Chess

Mac:  Hot Cross Buns

Cohen:  Mary had a little Lamb on white and black keys

Nate:  Ice Skaters, Curious Rumba

Elijah: Polovtsian Dances, The Entertainer

Adam:  Firefly, Little River, Sailing in the Sun,  Trumpet Song

Andrew: Minuet in G (Bach), Amazing Grace

Tyler: The Clown, Ancient Nations

Ida: Sakura, Rocking Bagpipes, A Day at the Carnival

Emily: Selection from Songs I already Know

Marten: Ukaten Heroes (his own composition), The Greatest Show on Earth

Sam: Sonatina (Benda)

Jikai: Song of the Cavalry (Kabalevsky)

Louise:  Leibestraum (Liszt) and In the Mood (Jazz)

Well Done everyone!

February News!  Happy Ground Hog Day!

I hope the prediction is for early Spring.  😁

There are many items so please read.


Will be held February 11 between 2-3 pm at Brightleaf Square (I will explain more about our venue – we are choosing between two at the moment but definitely in the South Building at Brightleaf Square.)  Parking is free in the lot opposite.  This is a DMTA (Durham Music teachers Association) event to raise money for scholarships for students who otherwise could not afford music lessons.  Each student contributes $5 towards the fun when they play.  We hope to attract donations from the public as well.  Maus Pianos donate two good pianos for us to use, one acoustic, one digital.  I would really like all my students who can come to play one or two pieces.  This is a great opportunity to meet colleagues and hear them play as well as yourselves. You can play pieces from last semester or a combination of 2022 and 2023 pieces.  It is a fun relaxed event. I will be pestering you in lessons!

My students

Interesting facts about Flourishing Muse Studio:  I have 29 students on 4 days: 5 adults; 9 students between 12-15 years; 8 students between 9-11 years; and 7 students between 5-8 years including 5 x 5 year olds.

Spring Soirée 2023

Save the date:  May 12 at ERUUF between 5:30 – 6:30.  Be considering what you are going to play.

Summer camps

Several of my students have attended the UNCG Music Summer camps in Greensboro NC and have loved it and come back with increased skills.  There are camps for piano and other instruments.  Website:  https://vpa.uncg.edu/music/smcamp/. The applications start 2/13/23 and you need to get in there before the camps fill.  I really like to way these camps are run and the professors who participate. Piano camp is for grades 6-12 who have learned piano for at least 2 years.

RCM program

The Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto conducts music assessments in the USA according to its syllabi for piano and other instruments.  My past students have successfully passed these exams from preliminary to level 6.  The exams involve playing pieces but also sight reading and technical work.  Website: https://www.rcmusic.com/learning/examinations


I have several students working on their own compositions and I really want to encourage more to work on this.  Am investigating competitions where they could enter their compositions.

Oscar’s story

This is pretty much what I hope to achieve in teaching piano:  Oscar arrived at a lesson and said he had taught himself a Christmas song and did I want to hear it?  Of course.  It was very well played.  I teach students to read music so they can go away and teach themselves pieces they like and that I might not have time to teach in lessons. Very well done Oscar.

Interesting article about the piano

I am not advocating that everyone should go out and buy a grand piano (I can’t myself – cost and room) BUT this article is a fascinating look at how pianos work.  Would love my older students to read this.


And if you really want to know more about that middle pedal click on the link!

Stay well.  I now have an air purifier in the studio to keep us all a bit safer.