Fall Soirée 2022

The Soirée was wonderful and amazing!

On 2 December, Flourishing Muse Studio held the first in-person Soirée (aka student recital) since 2 December 2019.  During the pandemic I was able to hold one on-line concert and although that was also wonderful it was not like seeing everyone play in the same venue on the same piano.

I hope everyone loved the new venue – I did!  Beautiful space, tiered seating so everyone can see, fantastic acoustics, and a really nice grand piano.  I am so grateful to ERUUF (Eno River Unitarian Universalist Fellowship) to be allowed to rent the space and I hope to have the Spring Soirée there too.

All the students played so well from the 5 year old to the 14 year olds.  I will talk to students as they come to lessons in the next two weeks before I break for the holidays on December 16. However Lucas played with such sensitivity it is hard to believe he is only in 9th grade.  Sam also thrilled with Rush E and he is in 7th grade.  Jikai played a difficult Sonatina from the RCM level 6 book and he only turned 12 in November!  Louise played a song from Hamilton – challenging music and lovely playing.  But all students played so well and I particularly noticed that everyone had really good hand positions on the keyboard.

I want to say something about nervousness.  You can be thoroughly prepared for a performance and still have such nerves that you do not play as well as you know you can.  There are many factors.  If you were not well during or in the weeks leading up to a concert it can really affect your performance.  If you had a lot of homework or other commitments that week, it can take the energy you need to play well.  Mostly it comes down to concentration and clearing your mind of extraneous thoughts like who is watching me?  What do they think of my playing? And lastly is it about being fully present in the music you are playing, being sensitive to the mood of the piece.  This takes preparation in working on your interpretation.  It could be a sad or mournful piece, or happy one, or you might want to emphasize the clarity of the composing.

I applaud the two Sipe boys who played their own compositions.  My neighbor David Dodson attended the Soirée and he particularly liked the modern sounds in their compositions.  In Spring I really want to see more students playing their own compositions and I will help write them down.

Bobby Hartman and sons Adam and Andrew were wonderful, helping in so many ways.  I really appreciate that they came early and helped me set up, and Bobby took charge of keys and locking up at the end – thank you!

There are two more weeks of lessons and in them I will have candy canes for everyone.  I did really forget them Friday night but I have them, allergy free, non-GMO, gluten free, vegan and mostly sugar!

If you would like to see the program here is the link


Fall Soirée 2022

This is the first in person Soirée I have held since December 2, 2019.  The three years of the pandemic have taken a toll on everyone.  Sadly it lead to my no longer teaching voice, guitar or ukulele. However, it is wonderful to be able to have another student piano recital which I like to call Soirées because they are more relaxed than more formal recitals – making mistakes and starting again are definitely allowed!

This is the first time I have held a Soirée at this venue, the Sanctuary at the Eno River Unitarian Universalist Fellowship and I thank them for allowing use of the space, and also thanks to Bobby Hartman and sons who attend fellowship there and are helping me today.

Th Forest by LakotaThe illustration on the front of the program is a painting by my eldest granddaughter, Lakota Delaney, age 14.  She lives in Fremantle Australia, and I commissioned her to do a painting that expressed the things I love best: the forest, the Eno River, hiking and playing my piano.  Thanks Lakota, it is perfect!

Thank you to all my students and families for choosing to learn piano with me.  There are a few students who are not playing to day for various reasons, Pascale, Logan, and Lydia so would like to remember them today even though they are not here.  I also have 4-5 adult students who are here to support us all but who will have their own evening at my house with adult beverages!  Thanks for coming.

Welcome to all the new students and their families who have come to lessons since 2019. It is so important to share your music with others; practicing piano can be a bit lonely. I hope everyone has fun listening to their peers playing.

The Soirée will be from 5-6:15 pm at the ERUUF Sanctuary.  Students are encouraged to be there no later than 4:45 if possible (you can come at 4:30 onwards to have a check in on the piano).  I know there are a few who have to come later and who cannot stay the whole time but it is only an hour and 15 minutes long and I really hope everyone can stay to hear all the students.  This is all about sharing your music with friends and families and your fellow students.  I love having all the families meet each other and I have so many new students who have not attended a Soirée before.
In the sanctuary there is no food or drink allowed except a water bottle.  It is such a lovely space and I want to be a great tenant.  I am going to give each student who wants one a Christmas candy cane but please save it till you get outside.  The weather looks cold but fine!
The ERUUF website has great directions and a campus map.  Please consult these because it is a big campus and the parking is spread out.  There are signs to the Sanctuary.  The turn in off Garret road is marked but it will be darkish so be watchful.

See you all there on Friday!

Soirée 2022 at last

On Wednesday I went to look at the Sanctuary at ERUUF (Eno River Unitarian Universalist Fellowship) and I am so excited.  The Sanctuary is perfect: lovely grand piano, tiered seating, plenty of space both high ceilings and we are able to spread out in the seating.

It will be my first Soirée since December 2019.  I call my student recitals Soirée because a Soirée is a late afternoon time when friends get together and play to entertain friends and family.  My Soirées are relaxed environments where everyone can share their music with each other. No-one needs to be apprehensive and I sit at the piano with the youngest ones.  Mistakes and start-agains are allowed!
The Soirée will be on December 2 starting at 5 pm and ending around 6 pm or shortly after.  The venue will be the Eno River Unitarian Universalist Fellowship (ERUUF), 4907 Garrett Rd, Durham NC 27707.  It is a big campus and there is ample parking once you turn into the driveway.  There are clear signs to The Sanctuary.
The most important thing right now is to reserve that date and time and for students to start to decide on what they are going to play.  Most will play 2 items unless one of the advanced students has a long piece. You need to decide now because you need to know a piece 110% to play it in front of others where there might be distractions.
You could start planning what you are going to wear.  Does not need to be formal wear but will need to be warm and neat.  You can do formal if you want to!
Parents will be able to video from their seat and because of tiered seating it will be much easier; you cannot video another student unless their parent has agreed.
The Soirées are so important for my studio practice.  It has been such a motivating force for students and such a pleasure to all the families to meet each other and for the kids to see and hear each other.  For example I have 6 10 year olds who have never met each other.  The pandemic almost did us in but we are back and I want this soirée to be a celebration.
I look forward to you all being able to come.  If a student really cannot play in front of others, I hope they will still come and support their colleagues.

Exciting October News

Holiday Soirée at last

I have some exciting news!  I have finally secured a venue for a Holiday Soirée! The date is Friday December 2, and I am thinking about 5:30 – 6:30 pm for the time (I do have the venue from 4-8 pm).  For new students (since I last had one of my soirees in person December 8, 2019), I had been having in person concerts which I called Soirées twice a year at Croasdaile Retirement Community,  Of course this was all pre-pandemic!  Over the subsequent years, my contact there, the Rev Denise Waters, retired and I felt like I did not want to use Croasdaile without Denise.  During the pandemic I did have an online concert and it was fun but I do not want to do another online concert.

The venue is the Eno River Unitarian Universalist Fellowship (ERUUF) sanctuary, where they have a nice grand piano and a lovely auditorium.  I have played there a very long time ago.  The Address for ERUUF is 4907 Garrett Rd, Durham, NC 27707.  To find more about ERUUF go to their website: https://www.eruuf.org/.  They are a spiritual community but basically non-denominational. Luckily, they do hire their venues out to people like me for activities such as recitals.  I teach two of Bobby and Michelle Hartman’s children, Andrew and Adam, and they have helped me make contact with ERUUF.

So students, you need to be working out now what you might play.  I really encourage all my students, youngest to the other end of the spectrum, to come and play and share their music with their colleagues.  Playing piano can be a bit lonely and solitary, but when we get together it is so good!  If you decide that you simply cannot play because you get so nervous, please, please come and meet your fellow students and listen to them play!  Often after a Soirée, students will ask can they play something they heard another student play.  We have a very relaxed atmosphere, and I sit with most of the younger students, and starting again is encouraged!

So please mark your calendars now for an early evening Soirée on Friday December 2, 2022.  Let’s celebrate making it through the pandemic.  Of course you can play with a mask if that is right for you!

October is here!

Fees for October will be due next week.  Monday people, can you think about Halloween, 31 October?  Another Monday!!  I definitely teach that day but the students who come after 5 might want to think about costumes and trick or treating.  You can of course come to music in costume.  Of course I will be a witch – every year the same, sorry!

Monday people will have 5 Mondays in October except if you are not coming on Halloween.  All other days of the week there will be 4 weeks in October.

The News

If you would like a different take on News… I read nicenews.com.  Recently they featured an article from the Washington Post on why we like the music we do. I found the article interesting especially for older students and I mean middle school onwards.

Here is an extract:

Our cognitive styles and how we think may also predict what types of music we may like. A 2015 study by Greenberg and his colleagues distinguishes between systemizers and empathizers — people who understand the world through thoughts and emotions vs. people who are interested in rules and systems. “Empathizers tend to prefer sadness in music whereas [systemizers] prefer more intensity in music,” Greenberg said. “A lot of IT [and] data science professionals [are] high on systemizing and also prefer really intense music.”

Not sure I agree but still very interesting.  I would definitely be on the empathizer end of the spectrum.


Stay warm and safe and it is so good to feel cold and wear sweaters (in Australian, jumpers)..


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

Christmas is coming!


Thank you to everyone who performed and participated in the Virtual Holiday Matinee on Sunday 12/13/2020.  I was so happy with everyone’s performances and loved seeing all the family and friends watching.  I will try to give everyone individual feedback during lessons but really, everyone was fantastic!  I mean that very sincerely!

25 students played and sang in the recital, and 8 were not able to participate for various reasons.  We think upwards of 85 people participated in the recital as performers or viewers which is wonderful.  Flourishing Muse is flourishing!  Thank you again to my amazing daughter Rose and to her equally wonderful assistant event manager Debbie, and to Sarah for the great holiday invitation and program – love her design work. These are up on my blog and I will see if I can put the video up – not sure how big it is yet.  Thank you also to my talented partner Carol, who tries to teach my how to do technology, often having to rescue me from technology mess.  She is the one who built my website and continues to make it work well, and again rescues things when i get it wrong.

This is the last week of music lessons for 2020.  I will be back teaching on Monday January 4, 2021.  If anyone is not continuing please let me know as soon as you can, or if anyone needs a different time.  Currently I have 33 students and I am not planning to take more students unless there are very particular circumstances.  33 lessons a week is a lot of preparation when the lessons are on-line.

Almost everyone has paid the December fees and those who have not I will text today.  There is so much going on at Christmas it’s hard to keep up!

I had some rather nice news this morning.  In 2008 I wrote a bilingual song for Our Lady of Guadalupe.  It used to be performed at my school masses.  The Music Director at Yale’s Catholic Chapel contacted me and asked could I arrange it for choir and small orchestra, which I did and I uploaded the written score to his choral music website.  He performs it every December 12, Guadalupe’s feast day, and it was performed virtually from the Chapel this past Saturday. He told me a group from Madrid loved the service and my piece, and that the full score had been downloaded 7,000 times in the past 2 years! You can see the written score on my website but sadly no recording yet! I love that people are using the piece I wrote.  I wish I had more time to compose!  But I have students composing instead.

It has been a tough year, 2020, but I have enjoyed “seeing” my students and I think I am getting used to virtual lessons and on a day like today maybe everyone appreciates not having to go out in the cold rain!

Have a wonderful warm Christmas and holiday season and stay healthy everyone.