End of Spring Semester and Summer lessons

Finally, we are coming to the end of not only a long Spring semester but a long, long pandemic – at least I hope the latter is true! I am back teaching in person albeit with masks but it is so much easier than online especially with younger students, but probably most people.  Three students will remain on line as they are in remote locations.
I have some important things to communicate  and ask:
I really and again, really want to put a new set of student videos up on my website.  I want to show what students have been able to achieve in the face of this pandemic.  I am amazed at how much you all got done in spite of dodgy internet connections and sometimes also older devices.  ( I hope all students now pay more attention to charging their device batteries!).  Can parents and students please work on this before June is upon us? Phone video is perfect.  Please put in drop box.
There are only a few weeks in June; one week for Monday students and two for everyone else. I would really appreciate it if everyone could work on paying those fees early next week.  Some have paid already and some have credits – check the end of your student’s latest email.  If you are not taking summer lessons, the Fall semester will commence after labor day.  This means Monday students will start 9/13/21 and others from 9/7/21.
If you are taking summer lessons, I will be teaching 9 weeks during summer from 6/21 to 8/19, but only on Mondays Tuesdays and Thursdays.  Some students have already secured a time; everyone else needs to let me know possible times on the schedule below.  You do not necessarily need to take lessons all of the 9 weeks but I really need to know your exact dates as much as you can tell me.  I can be flexible but I am definitely not teaching on the Wednesday or the Friday during summer.  At this time I would also like to keep Monday after noon free but I am open to possible times then.  If there is a question mark after your name it is just a suggestion so far.  I am on vacation 6/12 – 6/20 and then 8/22 – 9/6. (more after the schedule)
9:00 – 9:30 Mary-Russell
9:30 – 10:00 Kristen
10:00 – 10:30 Kristen
10:30 – 11:00
11:00 – 11:30 Lydia
11:30 – 12:00
12:00 – 12:30
12:30 – 1:00 Joshie
1:00 – 1:30
3:00 – 3:30
3:30 – 4:00
4:00 – 4:30
4:30 – 5:00
5:00 – 5:30
5:30 – 6:00
6:00 – 6:30 Jikai?
3:00 – 3:30 Susan
3:30 – 4:00
4:00 – 4:30
4:30 – 5:00 Pascale?
5:00 – 5:30 Tori?
5:30 – 6:00
6:00 – 6:30
Congratulations to 3 graduating seniors, Quinn Barbaza, Andrew Hartman, and Kaitlyn Busch.  I will sorely miss you all and hope you come back for visits like some of my previous students, and possibly play at my Holiday and Spring soirees.
Kaitlyn is my last remaining guitar student and I am no longer going to teach guitar.  I do not have time to practice and once a week playing barre chords does not go well with my left hand.  I will keep some existing ukulele students but probably not taking any new ones.  I might have room for some new piano students; I would especially love some more adult learners.
On the subject of piano lessons,  I would like to encourage interested students to think about the Royal Conservatory of Music (RCM) curriculum and examinations in piano;  I suggest that several of my current students who seem really keen on piano and are happy to practice each week might consider working towards the RCM examinations, using the RCM’s very fine and comprehensive curriculum.  Among my students Quinn completed level 6, Ashley level 5, Kavisha is about to take level 3, and Lydia is working towards level 3.  All have mastered not just piano skills but a deep understanding of music.
Here is the RCM website:  https://www.rcmusic.com/. I have to say it is hard to navigate beyond the first few pages but you can see some of their ideas.
The RCM is based in Toronto, Canada, but several years ago they agreed to extend their operations to America.  The program was called by various names to help Americans understand what it was but they have settled back into the RCM, even though “Royal” is not used in America.
There is a center in Cary at a local music school and until Covid hit exams were conducted there.  Now the exams are done online and that might become permanent as it seems to be successful.  There are not many teachers in Durham who have students sitting for exams – I think just myself and Sam Marion.  I have had students sit for exams up to and including level 6 so far and all my students seem to achieve at least honors but most get distinctions.
My idea is that even if you do not want your student to sit for the exams, I can teach them through the curriculum which includes technical work, ear tests, sight reading as well as some great imaginative pieces from the baroque era though the 21st century.  The books are not cheap and the fee for exams is not either!
The good thing about sitting for the exams is you have a definite goal, and these are internationally recognized piano standards and the curriculum is taught in many countries.  Good portfolio material!
I think this is long enough now so hope to be seeing videos coming to me.  I would prefer you put them in drop box as it preserves a better quality.  Let me know if I need to send you a drop box invitation.

Big changes next week May 10 onwards

Thanks for your replies. I think the schedule is set for the remaining 6 week of the semester.  PLEASE take a moment to go to the schedule tab for any time changes and whether you are coming in person or remaining virtual.
Happy Mother’s Day Sunday to all you amazing mothers!  Hope you all have a beautiful day and get to do something special.
Early news – I have 3 seniors graduating on June 2 and 4: Quinn Barbaza, Kaitlyn Busch, and Andrew Harman.  I understand Quinn has been accepted at Notre Dame, Kaitlyn at Davidson, and Andrew at Durham Tech.  Congratulations to all 3 and best wishes for your big new future!  It has been a tough year for you!
In your weekly emails I send notes about what students need to practice.  Older students – please READ your emails!  Younger students, would parents be able to print at least the part of the email that says what to practice?  I don’t have any non-readers so you all can read what it says.  This would be really helpful.
I do not send invoices.  On your email under schedule it says what you owe in fees and then there is a copy of the relevant part of my spreadsheet.  You should always check – math no longer my strong suit.
Next week, all in person students should wear a mask unless you are fully vaccinated and past the 2 week post vaccine period.  All accompanying people should also wear a mask.  I will have hand sanitizer and wipes.   Please be patient – my first week of hybrid lessons might be a bit rough.
Summer Lessons:  I have names on my list and if you want to be added to it please let me know as I will make another schedule for summer. So far these students have indicated that they want at least some summer lessons:  Susan, Mary-Russell, Kristen, Lydia, Venia, Mai, Louise (August), Andrew, Jikai.  More details next week.
Thanks always for learning music with me especially through this past year!

May news and studio changes

Important Changes in May

Hello Students and Parents,

By Monday May 10, both Carol and I will be fully vaccinated so I am able to welcome students back to in-person lessons at 2119 Sprunt Ave, if so desired, but with several provisos:

  • We will all need to wear masks, as well as myself, even if fully vaccinated.  This includes the parents or guardians who bring the students plus any other siblings who come to the lessons. There is a slight risk of Covid 19 infection even after vaccination and we cannot risk that.  The way I think about masks is that apart from covid it has drastically reduced the flu and cold seasons which is great.  Ukulele and Guitar players need to wear masks as well; just have to deal with singing in a mask!
  • Please do not bring food to the waiting room (you can’t eat while effectively wearing a mask).  Bring a water bottle of course and slip your mask down briefly to take sips.
  • It has been shown in research that Covid is rarely passed on by contact with surfaces but I will be wiping the piano down after each lesson.  I will also provide hand sanitizer and I will have a few disposable masks if you forget to bring one.
  • Please respect our lovely house and yard.  We have a bathroom that can be used for absolutely necessary use only.  Please try to use your own facilities or those at school before coming to your lesson.  This also reduces any of the small risks we have of the infection. I will leave paper towels in there to wipe your hands so please do not use the hand towels.  You can sit on the deck if the weather is appropriate but please don’t allow students to run around the yard (would hate for someone to have a fall and the terrain is rough!) or touch my plants, indoors or out.  Please bring a book, school work, ipad, something to use while waiting. Wifi is available.
  • In May I expect to be teaching in a hybrid manner and have purchased an additional laptop to facilitate this.  It will not be easy to keep switching but some people have already indicated that they want to stay virtual till the end of the Spring semester on June 11 and I cannot realistically change the schedule before that (From fall I will be teaching on dedicated virtual and live days and I will speak with each of you regarding scheduling when the time comes). When you arrive for an in person lesson I might still be teaching online at the piano so, as before, the door will be open, just come in.  If the door is closed please close it after you but if the weather is nice you can leave it open and just the screen door will be closed.  We have the yard sprayed regularly in summer with garlic spray so there are no mosquitoes which makes sitting outside very pleasant.
  • New People:  My address is 2119 Sprunt Ave.  Please come down the driveway and along the path on the right hand side of the house (be careful on the flagstones) and come up on the deck at the back where you will see the door to my waiting room.  Parents of older students can wait in my waiting room or leave for the half hour and return at the end.  This has worked really well in the past.  Go for a walk down on Ellerbee Creek or do some fast shopping.


I need to know if you are going to come to in-person lessons after May 10 or whether you are going to remain on line.  This is critical for my teaching!! Every student and family needs to let me know by Friday 30 April by 4pm. Please consider carefully. Thank you!

Other news:

The Durham Music Teachers Association (DMTA) held a very successful outdoor playathon on April 17 in the grounds of Greystone Church Hillsborough Rd Durham.  We raised over $1,000 for the scholarship fund!  Two of my students played very well, Mai Dunn and Louise Downs.  Thanks girls!

On Saturday April 24, five students played in a DMTA Virtual concert from 3-5, Quinn Barbaza, Lydia Pollak Coy, Leo and Ava Pieraccini and Pascale Lodewick.  These virtual concerts have been so great as in person recitals have been not possible.  There will be a final one on 5/29 at which another 4 students will be playing, Khaleel Jackson, and Louise Downs, and possibly Oscar McCormick  as well.

Summer lessons:

Summer schedule will run from Monday June 21 to Friday August 20.  Please let me know if you are interested in summer lessons and what times and days would be best. If you are attending day camps, what time are they finishing?  Fall semester will begin Tuesday September 7, the day after labor day.

All the best wishes for your good health.

April brings the warm weather!


Happy to be wearing fewer layers and even some bare feet!
Students and parents, I hope everyone is healthy and well.
The Spring semester starts again on Monday 4/12.  I will be glad to see everyone.  It was good to take a break although it has been filled with some sadness as my partner Carol’s mother is now in hospice and not expected to live very long.  She had been ill so this was not unexpected but it is still sad when one’s mother is going to pass.
Fees reminder – April fees are due from Monday and most people owe 3 weeks unless you had a payment put forward ($97.50)
Most Important!!  From the Durham Music Teachers Association

Spring Play-a-thon, April 17th 

We are excited to announce we will have an “in person” play-a-thon Saturday April 17th. The play-a-thon will be held outside at Grey Stone Church, 2611 Hillsborough Rd.  If you’d like more information about participating or would like to sign up for a time slot, please contact Lorna: lcollingridge@gmail.com or 919 599 9372.   Play-a-thons are informal performance opportunities for students of any age and level.  Money raised from the play-a-thons support DMTA’s scholarship program.

Please consider signing up:  Can be any student from beginners to advanced – I know playing in the open air is different but hey!  this has been a different kind of year!  You can play more than one piece if you want.  I hope to fill my half hour 2-2:30 pm!  I think it has to be piano players because there won’t be amps and microphones for singers and ukulele/guitar players. If you are not from Durham you are excused!
I look forward to hearing people clamoring to play…

Mid March News 2021

Happy Spring (almost here!) 
First news is that this Saturday 5 students are going to participate in one of the Durham Music Teachers Association (DMTA) virtual recitals.  It will be at 3 pm Saturday afternoon 3/27.  These students will be performing:
Anna Long – Dance by DG Turk
Oscar McCormick – Falling Leaves (his own composition)
Mai Dunn – Colors of the Wind from Pochahontas
Ava Pieraccini – C’etait Anne de Bretagne (a traditional Breton folk song)
Venia Lekovich – Lightly Row (Faber)
Please let me know if you would like to be part of the audience and I can forward the Zoom link later this week.  Separate email later this week to performers.
There will be another DMTA Virtual recital on Saturday April 24 and I already have Pascale, Iris, Quinn and Lydia signed up for that one.  There will be a final spring recital on May 29 so anyone who would like to play then please let me know. In the absence of live performances these virtual recitals have been just great!  I will not venture a Spring Soiree but really hope to have a Holiday Soiree in December.
The Playathon:  I think everyone knows that the DMTA raises funds for music scholarships through our public playathons.  The DMTA coffers are almost empty because we have not been able to have our playathons since March 2020.  Now things are hopefully improving with vaccinations, we are going to have an outdoor playathon in the carpark of Greystone Church on Hillsborough Road.  The church has been holding outdoor services so they have a stage and piano setup we are able to use.  Playathons are very informal.  We imagine people might drive in and listen for a while (and give us a donation).  I would love some of my Durham students to offer to play.  I will have a 1/2 hour slot sometime in the afternoon of Saturday April 24.  Let me know!
Studio news:  I will be taking my Spring break from April 1 to April 9 so no classes during that time (I am going to the beach for 3 days!)   Schools have breaks at various times not always coinciding with me and I think most people have let me know what they are doing (going away, staying, still having late march lessons or not …).  Thank you everyone for paying fees – it is my only source of income so I am grateful!  (New fees of $35 per half hour do not start till 9/7/21).
I am now fully vaccinated (pfizer vaccine) and Carol is having her first shot on 3/31 next week (moderna).  Her second will be at the end of April and we will both be fully safe after mid May.  I am considering some in person lessons after that point, all things being equal.  However, there are going to be inevitable shifts in scheduling if school resumes in full.  I see a lot of schools still taking Wednesdays as free time but that may change.  I don’t want to do teaching sessions switching from virtual to in-person so i am contemplating what to do about this.  It is confusing enough to switch platforms while teaching virtually!    So the remaining  months of Spring might be a work in progress.  The Spring semester will end Friday June 11, and the Fall semester will begin after labour day in September.
Summer lessons: I will be teaching lessons in parts of the summer, by special arrangement ie not perhaps at your usual time.  I will be away in June from  6/12 – 6/18 and also in August from 8/22 – 8/29 and I am probably going to take off the following week before Fall semester starts.  I will make this all much clearer soon but if you are interested in summer lessons or at least for part of the summer let me know.  Kids!  I am so happy many of you are going to camp! Last summer was so awful for you.
Hope everyone is hanging in there and being healthy and getting vaccinated!

Setting Goals and other news

One way in which music students set goals is by scheduling performances for friends and families and colleagues.  Lately, Flourishing Muse students have taken advantage of Durham Music Teachers Association (DMTA) recitals.  On February 27, 5 students performed and each performance was a special event for their families:

Khaleel played a Benda Sonatina (very fast, needs slick fingers); Kavisha played two of her level 3 RCM exam pieces perfectly from memory; Lucas played two pieces and you can find videos under student performances; Annabel played her own composition (where are all my other composers?) and Louise astonished us with the jazzy City of Stars, also up under Student Performances.

On Sunday 3/7, five of my ukulele and guitar students participated in a zoom recital much enjoyed by grandparents and other family members:

This was the program:

Hal Sharp:  “Believer” Imagine Dragons

Jane Sharp: “More Hearts than Mine” Ingrid Andress

Leo Piaraccini:  “Iphone” with thanks to Paul Simon’s Kodachrome!

Ava Pieraccini:  “Cups” Anna Kendrick

Kaitlyn Busch:  “Jackie and Wilson” Hozier

Kaitlyn is my most senior player and she had these comments for her fellow students:

“Tell Hal I loved how the ukulele sounded on Believer. Jane has such a nice singing voice and she sounded like she really understood the song. iPhone sounded great and made me laugh! Leo should write more songs. I love the Cups song and Ava’s voice is so impressive and sounded so great with it :)”

The next recital for the DMTA will be Saturday March 27 and I already have five willing performers!  The last one will be April 24 and two of my most advanced students will be playing then (you know who you are!).

These are wonderful opportunities and there is nothing like a scheduled performance to elicit more practice!  And it is so amazing to see how much students can improve in a short week.  Imagine if they practiced with the same focus over several weeks/months?

If there are more students who would like to perform at the next 2 DMTA recitals please let me know.  I will try to fit in everyone who wants to perform before the end of the Spring Semester which will be the second week in June.

I am pleased that I was able to run the short string zoom recital myself with major help from Carol (my in-house tech support – lucky me as Don Bartosik says!) and I look forward to a few more until everything goes back to in-person.  Thanks so much to Carol and again to my daughter Rose in the UK whom we only had to call 3 times!

Hopefully in December we will be having a Holiday Soiree somewhere!! Hurray!!

Fees:  Thank you so much to the people who have already paid March fees and thank you in anticipation of the others who are going to pay this week! 😁

Spring Breaks:

I know various schools are taking various spring breaks and they do not always coincide with mine.  I will not be teaching from Thursday April 1 to Friday April 9.  If your spring break is earlier and you want a rescheduled lesson let me know; on the other hand if you are taking a break then, also let me know (thanks to those who have already done this). Alternatively, if you are on your spring break and still want your lesson that is fine except for the days when I am not teaching.

The Future:

I do not want to get into definites here but I strongly suspect that there will not be in-person lessons until after June 15.  After that I do hope to go back to at least some in-person lessons over the summer.  However, some of my students will always be remote (can’t drive from High Point or Charlotte for lessons or fly from the UK!) and I am thinking that there will be one day with all remote lessons and that would probably be Mondays.  I don’t want to have to switch from remote to in-person mid teaching session (don’t know how classroom teachers are doing it!).  On the subject of remote lessons, there may be local people who want to remain in remote lessons for whatever reason; please talk to me about that possibility.

In addition I will not be taking any more guitar students because I just do not have time to adequately practice guitar, and barre chords on guitar are interfering with my left hand which I want to save for piano.

I will keep my current ukulele students if they want to continue, but I probably will not take any new ones because preparation is a problem with no real text book to use (Carol has suggested for years that I write one – but time…)

I will not be teaching singing as a separate skill.  The problems with my teeth have severely limited my ability to demonstrate serious vocal work and I want to focus on piano music other than song accompaniments.  There are fabulous vocal teachers and coaches in the Triangle who are more specialized than me.  I have loved teaching singing to Michelle and Richard and others but it is time for a new vocal coach!

I want to focus on piano and especially composition and the possibility of teaching Finale, the music notation software that I use for my own compositions. I have not yet figured out how to do that but I am considering the issue.  I will have some free spaces for piano in Fall because 3 year 12’s will be off to college, Quinn, Kaitlyn and Andrew.

One other piece of important news:  I need to raise my fees to $35 for a half hour lesson.  Rises in costs of living have made this necessary, I am sorry.  Hour lessons would be $70 and I will still offer to 10% discount for more than one learning in the same family.  Hope everyone can work with that.

Thanks to all of you for learning music with me and for sticking at it during this pandemic.  The end is in sight I think!

With happy wishes from Lorna