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.


Happy Holidays to everyone!

What a feeling – holiday – hurray!  This image was from my dear friend Arthur at the DSA.

I hope everyone has a safe and happy holiday in 2022.  It has been a turbulent year but we all made it. The highlight for me was the Soiree and I am already planning for Spring so get ready.

Spring Semester – starts the first week of January and I am conflicted about the two Mondays; the official New Year’s Day Monday 1/2/23 and MLK Day 12/16/22.  I would prefer that Monday students had their full 4 Mondays in January so I am going to teach both days but I know some people will not want to come to music on one or both days.  Let me know if you want to come to lessons:

Monday January 2:


Monday January 16:

I will then reorganize lessons so that people can come earlier in the day if they want their lesson(s).

I hope this is not too confusing.

All other students start Tuesday January 3, 2023

As far as I know now times will be the same as in the Fall semester unless you let me know there is a problem.  After Christmas I will put the schedule with any changes – click on Schedule.

Be well, safe and warm.


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)..


Welcome to Fall Piano Lessons, September 6

They say summer is over after Labor day and the weather outside SEEMS to be changing – Oh please let us have some rain today!  I am happy to welcome Fall, and get out the jeans and sweaters and boots, start cleaning up the garden, and plant bulbs.  Don’t you love my new side path?
This is a short week with only Tuesday and Wednesday students having lessons as I have to have my heart procedure on Thursday.  I will be back to full strength next week, and I look forward to seeing ALL my students.
Fees for September will be due this and next week.  Please look at your feedback emails for the amounts.
This semester I will have 26 students each week which is less than I normally teach because I am no longer teaching ukulele and guitar.  My instruments are sitting in the corner accusingly but I need to take a break to let my hands deal just with piano and to let my vocal folds maybe recover.  Gosh, aging is awful!
I have not settled on the venue for my holiday concert but it is 100% happening at the end of November.  It will not be at Croasdaile where my good friend and supporter, the Rev Denise, has retired. I am in negotiations for a venue and if this one does not work I might be asking for suggestions, but my criteria is my students deserve a really nice, preferably grand piano for their concert.
As I start teaching this Fall, I am going to be emphasizing practice.  One of my parents asked for help with their student and I have written some ideas for students to consider.  Parents of younger ones (and some older!) could you assist by reading through these ideas and perhaps encouraging your student to implement the ideas? I really want to see some great progress this Fall! I will be suggesting specific sections to focus on in each student’s practice.
I am pasting the ideas below.
How to Practice the Piano

Hint: It’s not how much; it’s how.

How Long should I Practice? ⏰

Beginners should try for 10 minutes. Intermediate students can choose but at least 30 minutes.  No-one should sit at the piano more than 40 minutes without taking a break which means getting up, having some water, looking outside (2-5 minutes). 30 minutes could be broken into two lots of 15 if that is what you like.  Advanced students should be doing 60-80 minutes if they really want to progress.

The Key… 🔑

…is daily – it is better to do less if time has run out than to miss a day. Of course life can intervene but progress only comes with daily practice.  Why do coaches want their teams working out every day?

When to practice? 🗓

This depends on your family circumstances, where your piano is situated, or if it is digital, can you use headphones. Mozart practiced either very early or very late.  I always prefer early.  But practicing at the same time every day is really helpful in maintaining regular practice.

Remove distractions!    🐆

Turn off phones and devices, leave social media for later, keep the cat and dog further away unless your playing makes them go to sleep.

Warm up.

At least 5 minutes for intermediate students and 10 for advanced.  Hanon exercises, scales, dozen a day, and at the end maybe you have a piece you always play hopefully from memory. In a half hour lesson I cannot always go over your exercises but once learned, I expect you to play them for warming up.

Plan your practice. 

For intermediate but especially advanced students, after warming up you should work on a 4-6 measure section that presents you with difficulty.  This is how my student Chelsea practiced, 4 measures at a time, memorizing as she went. Quinn was the same.  Once you have mastered that section (and that might be your whole practice depending on difficulty), move on to another 4 -6 measures.  Then try connecting these sections if they are adjacent.


Always starting over from the beginning

It feels natural to start at the beginning, so many of us play from here, try adding a few new notes, make a mistake, then start again from the beginning. You waste a lot of time playing this first section over and over, while you could be learning new sections or correcting mistakes. Instead, focus on a new part and practice it alone. Only combine it with the previous sections when you get it right, then move on.

Right, left, together.

Learn right hand and memorize, learn left hand and memorize, then play both hands and memorize. Three different tasks.  They all need separate attention.

Of course you can play all of your piece at the end of the day/week BUT not at the beginning of your practice when you are least tired and most focussed.

Ask me for more detailed specific plans for your particular pieces.