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.

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!

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!