DMTA Playathon October 2018

Very successful Playathon!

On Saturday 10/20/18 the students of eight members of the Durham Music Teachers Association (DMTA) performed at Northgate Mall.  The event is held regularly to raise money for scholarships to assist students struggling to pay music fees.  Over $700 was raised which is almost enough for a full scholarship. Hopper pianos always donates a grand piano for the day, giving students an opportunity to play such a lovely piano.

Ten students from my studio performed and they were all terrific, very high standard  and I think I am not being biased!

Madeline and Mai played a duet, Camptown Races, and then Madeline played “Classic Dance and Mai played Lightly Row and Forest Drums.  Lydia played the beautiful “Angel Fish” from her level 1 exam repertoire, Stella played the challenging “Gumdrops” and Mia played “Rage over a lost Penny” by Beethoven.  To finish the piano set, Kathleen played “Gavotte” by Telemann.

In the ukulele set, Ella played “I’m a little teapot” and Au Clair de Lune, a duet with me.  Sadie and I played a series of duets from her latest book: “All through the Night” “Minuet”, “Simple Gifts” and “Greensleeves”.  The twins then finished the set in style, with Leo singing and playing “Don’t Stop Believing” and Ava singing and playing “Riptide”.

Thank you so much to all the parents and families who came out on a Saturday to support this very worthwhile endeavor.

The next playathon will be the weekend of December 8-9 at Brightleaf Square so I hope more students will participate.  That will be the weekend after my Soiree, Sunday December 2.

Spring Soiree 2018 – Best ever!

Thanks to all students and parents and friends, it was a great soiree, and I hope everyone feels very proud of themselves.  A wonderful bunch of musicians.  Too many good things to enumerate here but hope to see all students in lessons this week, as it is my last week teaching until end of July.  Lessons recommence Monday July 30 when you can come.  I understand people are on holidays intermittently and also at camps.

I see such improvement between Soirees which is why I hold them.  I know you all appreciate the wonderful facility at Croasdaile.  They allow me to use it without cost although I go and play there when Rev.Denise Waters needs me. Thank you to Croasdaile and the residents who come to the concerts.
If anyone has a good video they could share with me I would love to post some on my website.  Send me a link if you have that facility or put the MP4 on Drop box for me and I can put it in vimeo on a private link.
Remember that the wonderful Chelsea is available for lessons while I am away in later June and July.  She played “Troubled Waters” so sensitively and of course with fabulous technique.
Here are her details:
Summer lesson opportunity

My ex-student Chelsea Daniel will be available for lessons again this summer especially while I am away for 6 weeks from June 8 to end of July.  She has taught some of my students in previous years and she has also recently given me some help with my playing to good effect (I hope!).  This is a wonderful opportunity to catch Chelsea before she travels overseas or gets on the concert tour.  Chelsea is entering her third year at the Butler School of Music at the University of Texas in Austin.  Chelsea has a particular interest in woman composers especially those from the African American and Hispanic community, a much neglected group musically speaking but she is going to remedy that!  She is also composing herself so far in a modern jazz idiom.

Her phone: 919-667-8214


Spring Soiree 2018 is getting close!

The Spring Soiree is getting close – Sunday June 3 at Croasdaile Village auditorium from 3-5 pm
Below is the tentative program.  Some blanks need to be filled in this week and please check your name is there.  I will use full names and full names of performance items in the real program of course:
Program Spring Soiree 2018


  • You are my Sunshine (all)
  • This little light (all)
  • This land is your land (all)
  • Safari (Hazel, Camille, and Ella)
  • On a Mountain High Top (Leo and Ava, Ian, Lucas)
  • Wild Mountain Thyme (Lucas)
  • ?  (Leo and/or Ava?)
  • March (Sadie and Lorna)
  • Elenke (Sadie and Lorna)


I’m on Fire (Kaitlyn)


  • Winnsboro Cotton Mill Blues (Mary-Russell and Lorna)
  • Russian Waltz or Water is Wide (Mary-Russell and Lorna)
  • Camptown Races (Madeline and Mai)
  • Eine Leine Nachtmusik (Madeline and Mai)
  • Sun Flowers in Spring (Lillie and Cynthia)


  • Madeline – Classic Dance
  • Mai – Dancing Sea Horses
  • Oscar – 
  • Louisa – 
  • Lillie – Canoe song
  • Stella – Ode to Joy
  • Iris – haiku and Mixed up song
  • Khaleel – Firefly
  • Logan – Ode to joy
  • Andrew – Sea Chanty
  • Liam – Marche Slav 
  • Mia – Energico
  • Jesse – Gypsy and Swing low
  • Quinn – Fantasia and Monk


  • Lucas and Mia – A Million Dreams
  • Oscar? Quinn?
  • Michelle – Never enough
  • Richard – Non piu Andrai
I will need to have a ukulele rehearsal and hope everyone can come Saturday June 2 at my place (I know it is small, but parents maybe you could do some retail therapy or go for a walk?) from say 3:30 – 3:45 pm. (that would be all 8 ukulele students)
I also need to have a rehearsal with Lucas and Mia for A Million Dreams and that would be same day after the ukuleles 3-3:30.
The Soiree is a relaxed concert.  Starting again if you make a bad start in fine. Feeling nervous is normal but you have to remind yourself that everyone there is not there to criticize but to support.  Once you sit down to play, think about your music.  Do not let thoughts like “I’ll be glad when this is over”, “what will I have for dinner?”, “what will everyone think?” take over from thinking about the music you are playing right then.  I have to do the same thing myself so I know it is hard but also possible.  You have to get what we sometimes call “The Monkey Brain” to be quiet (you know how monkeys can chatter on).
I really like affirmations like “I am a really good piano player and I know my piece well”  especially of you write them down and put them some where you can’t help reading them all the time.
Let me know any questions, changes, anything else this week.

May and June news

The Spring Soirée 2018 is approaching very quickly. It will be held on June 3 at Croasdaile auditorium at Croasdaile Village from 3-5 pm. I call my twice yearly concerts Soirées which is not technically quite correct in the afternoon, 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 clearest directions to Croasdaile Village 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:

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 (there is no charge for the Soirée). Many students find competitions very nerve racking. One has to enter competitions sometimes if you aim to be a performer professionally, and some very confident people are excited by the process. Most of my students find performing at the lovely auditorium at Croasdaile for family and friends and residents much more relaxing. The residents at Croasdaile love to come and hear especially the young ones perform. (One of my singers even has a fan club there!)

I invite my new students to come to their first Soirée so they can see what happens and how their colleagues play. If there are new students who feel they would like to perform at this Soirée, you would be very welcome. I also invite my adult students to come and support the students who are performing. My adult students have opted to have their own evening for more work-in-progress sharing (May 25 is the next FM Salon), but I would still love them to come to the Soirée if they can and are so minded.

The Soirée program: All students should be considering what they would like to perform at the Soiree. I am talking to students in lessons this week and subsequently about their items. Some things I have already chosen:

The 8 ukuleles will play and sing 3 items together: This Little Light arrangement, You are my sunshine, and This land is your land. More advanced ukulele students will play individually or in small groups as arranged in lessons.

If you have seen the musical The Greatest Showman, you will be excited to know that there will be two songs featured from that musical, A Millions Dreams (Mia and Lucas) and Never Enough (Michelle, an adult student).

There will also be a duet section this year! I love playing duets and teaching students to play duets.

The Spring Semester 2018 is fast coming to a close. The last lessons will be from Monday June 4 to Friday June 8. I will be leaving for London and Australia June 13 and returning July 24. Lessons will resume Monday July 30 and I will be teaching all August except for the last week (8/27-8/31), and then Fall Semester starts after labor day (9/3) . Some people have already let me know they want lessons in August – same times are fine.

I know that at least one student is not continuing sadly – she is done with school and is off to University. If anyone is not continuing or needs time changes please start letting me know and I will try to accommodate. I have some new students waiting to start in Fall.

I know that all kinds of things interrupt lessons: injuries, illness, school commitments and snow days but I just want to remind everyone that my studio policy is for students to attend a weekly lesson with as great regularity as possible. This ensues satisfactory progress for the student and also gives me some continuity of income. Teaching lessons is my only source of income. I love that I can earn my living this way, from my beautiful home and garden which I love to share with my students. (Can I just remind everyone that the grass at the back is still out of bounds – we are still trying to get it to grow so if you need to run, go around the big tree!) I am pretty flexible and I generally excuse students and put payments forward although my policy is to charge for the lesson if I don’t get 24 hours notice so I can reschedule makeup lessons. I fear I have not been very strict about that!

I am sorry I will be away so long over summer but I have to spend time with my grandchildren and daughters and even once every 18 months seems so little.

Fees: It would be really helpful if people could pay fees for the remaining weeks of the semester. Your email has the details but unless you have some payments moved forward, this is what you will owe:

Monday people 5 lessons
Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday and Friday people 6 lessons

Thanks so much always for learning music with the Flourishing Muse Studio!

It’s back to school time – almost!

I am so very sad to have to tell you that one of my students, William Painter, died in an accident yesterday.  He would have been 10 years old on August 22. He was the eldest son of my neighbors, Carrie and Rusty Painter, and the brother of Ben.  He was such a funny, smart, kind boy and always thanked me at the end of every piano lesson.  He was such a responsible person  and often brought things over the road very carefully.  His parents are such wonderful people. At the Spring Soiree he played “Firefly”, the first piece in the book; he had advanced way beyond that but he sensibly wanted to play that piece because he said he “knew it so well”.  “Firefly” will always be William’s piece.

On other less sad matters:

My back door – you will all be happy to know (or not) that we have a new screen door at the back.  it was at least 3 times as expensive as the previous useless one and it springs back into place rather smartly so be cautious first time you come in.  If you are bringing a guitar or ukulele, please be careful and ask me or someone to hold the door for you.

The Holiday Soirée will be on December 10 at Croasdaile Auditorium from 3-5 pm.  I am so thankful that their renovations are not starting until January 2018 and I can still use the fantastic Ponder Hall! Everyone can start thinking about what holiday songs they might like to perform at the Soirée. All types of numbers are welcome – Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and any I have missed and including just fun holiday numbers. 

The schedule is almost set now – click on Fall Schedule and please double check your times.  It is always hard at the beginning of a semester when lots of changes are happening. I have had to move several people a number of times so thank you for being understanding everyone!

Fall is a short semester so let’a get working right away!

Sumer is icumen in

… as the medieval round says.

Spring Soirée was wonderful!

Congratulations to all students who performed – so many parents and friends and residents said how much they enjoyed it all, from ukulele groups to classical piano, from Taylor Swift to Piaf.  I keep coming back to how important I think the twice yearly recitals are for students to hear each other and to know they can play well and share their music with family and friends people. I was amazed at how my beginners came and played for the first time.  Well done!  It is also about having a goal to work towards.  Without a goal, it is easy to never prefect a piece or pieces and then have the satisfaction of playing them well even if you simply do that for the family audience!

Thank you so much to Chelsea Daniel who came and performed. Chelsea has been interning for me for the past few weeks and giving my students amazing insights into the music they are playing and reminding me of fundamentals I sometimes let fade into the back of my mind. She reminds me especially about how to practice and maybe she will write something about this for my students! She is available for teaching lessons in July while I am away.  If you are around in July and feel like you would like to take advantage of her expertise this is an opportunity not to be missed.  She will be charging $25 a half hour lesson and this is a short bio:

Chelsea discovered piano at age four upon playing a piano on a trip to Jamaica. Afterwards her father taught her how to play, and a lot of her learning was self taught. She attended Durham School of the Arts from middle school to ninth grade, during part of which time she took lessons from Dr Collingridge to take exams and prepare for her auditions for the UNCSA. She was accepted into the University of North Carolina School of the Arts where she attended until her twelfth year of high school. Chelsea studied there with Dmitri Shteinberg and is now currently at the University of Texas Austin studying with Andrew Brownell. Chelsea was selected to play in multiple master classes at UNCSA with notable artists and competed state-wide when she was young.

and here are Chelsea’s contact details:

Chelsea Daniel 

107 West Trinity Ave

Durham NC 27701


Lessons are now on a reduced summer schedule which you can see under Summer Schedule.

This does not mean everyone listed is coming every week – I have a weekly calendar which tells me that and I will send reminders. Some parents and students owe June fees and given that I am leaving relatively soon it would be great if everyone settled up for June this week. Thanks so much to those who have already done this.

I am renaming the Spring Schedule as the tentative Fall schedule until everyone let’s me know what changes need to be made.

Looking forward to a great summer with students and then with my daughter and grandson in London in July!