August News

August is rolling through!  It is good to be having some students already coming back to lessons. Even though I have numerous of projects on the go, I love to see my students and enjoy the interactions with them so much.  “They” say extroverts get their energy from being with people and there is definitely a large part of me that is like that. (Introverts apparently get their energy renewed by alone time, and I can appreciate that too at times).

I am working on solidifying the date for the Holiday Soiree – Sunday December 2 from 3-5 pm. Fall semester is quite short so I will be working on the programing from September onwards.

Fall semester officially begins Tuesday September 4, the day after labor day.  For all students who will not have started lessons in August, their lessons will commence on that day. Sorry about Labor Monday students – if a Monday student wants a lesson that week let me know and I might be able to fit them in.

Don’t forget I am having my summer beach week, last vacation of the year, from Monday 8/27/18 to friday 8/31/18.

Over the holidays I was able to meet with Chelsea several times and have just said goodbye to her this week as she heads back to Austin for her third year.  She is studying at the Butler School of Music at the University of Texas in Austin.  She will not be back in time for the soiree in December but will be giving several concerts, one possibly at Croasdaile and perhaps another in Raleigh and I will have more details later in the year.  She played a little of her new piece, Mendelssohn’s Variations Serieuses op. 54, so beautiful.  Please go and listen to it if you are interested: 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tUPhyced5NU

Parents and students often ask me about the difference between an acoustic and a digital piano, and why do I recommend an acoustic piano where possible.  There was an excellent article in my Piano Price Point blog recently; this is an extract and you can read the whole article and see the diagrams here:

https://pianopricepoint.com/why-upgrade-from-a-digital-piano/

Extract:

“So why upgrade? Longer keys mean better balance from front to back of the piano keys. The rotational inertia gives dynamic touch changing the feel as you play soft to loud. And finally, the spring loaded joints aid the reset. All of these work collectively to define the touch of a piano. When you compare that to a digital piano where the touch weight is simply raising or lowering a lead weight on a see-saw, the difference is significant. In addition to these touch elements, traditional pianos also have adjustable parts to refine the touch components as well.

Final considerations regarding touch: dexterity and injury. After nearly 30 years of teaching, I could tell as soon as I heard a student who had been practicing on a digital piano. How? They have not developed anywhere near the right amount of finger dexterity. You can “hear” that their technique is weak. Dynamic touch brings about correct dexterity. You can especially hear it on quick staccato passages. But the more important consideration is injury. Extended practice time on digital pianos have the propensity towards injury. I’m not a kinesiologist but I think it has something to do with repetitive loud playing on the digital piano. I believe that the force is somehow not absorbed the same way because digital pianos do not have dynamic key weight. When you come crashing down on the keys, if the static weight doesn’t change, the next absorption point is the hands and arms. The dynamic nature of the acoustic piano changes the resistance when you play and for whatever reason, I find it more forgiving.

When it comes to upgrading from a digital piano to an acoustic piano, there are also 2 sound concepts to be mindful of: The first is the continuous flow of sound which we commonly refer to as analog. The second is dynamic timbre referring to how the sound quality changes with dynamics and volume.

First, let’s look at the comparison between acoustic sound and digital sound. The acoustic piano creates sound by a hammer striking a string. The subsequent vibration is amplified by the soundboard into audible tones. How do digital pianos make sound? Digital pianos don’t actually create sound. They simply play back a digital recording of a real piano. But digital sound and live string resonance are different. Digital sound is made up of many frames per second to give the illusion of continuous sound. Natural vibration of a string is a continuous waveform that we perceive differently. I remember the first time I used Skype to speak with my parents a thousand miles away. My aging father found the technology almost baffling. It was great to see their faces and connect but is it the same as being there in person? No of course not. Both methods communicate effectively but the live version brings about a closer heart connection. A picture of a garden or being in the garden, a filmed version of a Shakespearean play or experiencing live theatre, hearing a recorded version of your favourite artist or seeing them live in concert ~ live is simply more than the digital representation. And yes I’m well aware of the fact that there are incredible creative moments that can only be achieved in the digital realm. It’s not that it lacks expression as its own form. My point is that digital piano will always and only be a facsimile of a real piano. And as it relates to acoustic analog continuous sound waves versus a digital recording of a piano transmitted through speakers, natural sound will always be the better choice.”

I know finance is the problem for so many people and pianos are expensive, but a pianist told me that the Trosa Thrift Store on North Roxboro Street often has numerous pianos in quite reasonable condition.  You would need to have someone look them over for weak points but it could be a good starting place to acquire an acoustic piano.  Pianos do need to be tuned at least once a year and the fees are somewhere around $140 for  basic tuning.

Happy late summer everyone and be safe.

Summer Travel

I hope everyone has a wonderful, safe, fun summer whatever you are doing.  I leave today June 13 and will be back Tuesday July 24 and teaching from Monday July 30.

I am assuming that people who are coming back to lessons on Monday 30th July are coming at their regular lesson time.  I have not made a special August schedule but I know people are not necessarily here all August or might need a time adjustment.  Just let me know. I will have limited access to email depending on where I am but I can check frequently.  

The Fall schedule as it is at the moment is up on my blog.  Please check it.  I know some people have asked for extra lessons but that is all dependent on people being willing to shift days. We can work it out when I get back.  But if you have a request other than those you have already indicated, let me know on email.  I will have different phone numbers overseas.

Remember that Chelsea will be teaching this summer while I am away so please contact her for extra special piano lessons: 

Her phone: 919-667-8214

Email: Chels1207@gmail.com

If anything changes I will post on my blog, as I can do that from Australia or London.  Check my blog latter part of July just in case.

Welcome to two new students, Lydia and Cecilia, but sadly goodbye to Maddy Werner who is off to UNC – best of luck in your new career Maddy!

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

Ukuleles:

  • 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)

Guitar:

I’m on Fire (Kaitlyn)

Duets:

  • 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)

Piano:

  • 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

Voice:

  • 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: http://www.croasdailevillage.com/cvhowtofindus.html

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!

Lovely Event Saturday 4/21/18

I really enjoyed seeing the students perform at the DMTA Playathon Saturday, and I know some were nervous and it was a pretty big space but I hope parents and students enjoyed themselves. I know the day-long event raised a tidy sum for the DMTA Scholarship Fund. Thanks to all the students who braved their nerves and helped us raise money for other students to learn music.

Thanks to Ashley Pieraccini, I have put up some videos on my website www.flourishingmuse.net. under the video tab. Ashley did an amazing job and videoing is not a simple task – Carol is a documentary maker so I have seen first hand how hard it is to steady the camera. Thanks Ashley. And thanks to Carol who has to train me on putting up videos from Vimeo onto my website. This was her third attempt to train me and I think I finally get it!

I did not put up every video or I would not being getting to my lessons preparation so I apologize to the ones not up there but they are on my camera and I can show you in lessons if you like.

Also I recorded Jesse playing Gypsy in his lesson, which is the piece he would have played at the playathon except for a baseball game.

Students could watch their videos and talk to me about what they might like to work on before the Soiree June 3. Hint: Some singers could open their mouths wider! That is part of how you project your voice. Piano players – take note of the youngest ones – fearless! How can we older ones get to have that attitude? If we all work it out we could write the book!

Thanks everyone see you at lessons this week.

 

April Playathon 2018

Tomorrow (Saturday 4/21/18) is the Durham Music Teachers Association (DMTA) Playathon at Northgate Mall, just outside the indoor entrance to the old Macy’s store.  My section is from 2-2:45 pm.
Please try to stay all through the session if you can – I know several people have to go on to other events and that is fine.
Remember to bring a $5 contribution for each player to add to the amount we are raising for scholarships for students who cannot afford music lessons. If you know of someone in this situation, who wants to learn piano, I am always interested to apply for the scholarship.  The parent(s) do have to supply tax return(s) as prove of income to the DMTA committee but I can fill in the application.  One of my advanced piano students was a recipient of the scholarship for 3 semesters.
Parking is easy at Northgate Mall and you can always eat ice cream while there and support the businesses in Northgate.
Here is my tentative program.  Sadly Quinn had to drop out as he had an injury, and several others had prior commitments to a Cinderella rehearsal and tickets to the Sound of Music.  There will be another opportunity at my Soiree June 3.

Lillie: Half time show

Mary Russell and Lorna: Winsboro Cotton Mill Blues

Mary Russell: Fur Elise

Sadie and Lorna: Elenke

Ella:  Rocky Mountain

Madeleine and Mia: camptown racetrack duet

Madeline: Classic dance

Mai: The Haunted Mouse

Mia: All Through the Night voice with Lorna accompaniment, and Energico solo

Leo and Ava: Let it be

Logan: Ode to Joy

Stella: Ode to joy

Andrew: Sea Chanty

Lucas: Stay with me

(Possibly Jesse playing “Gypsy”)

Illiria: Diabelli “Bagatelle;” Kathleen Massoud’s “Castle Days;” “Flamenco Dancers.”

Looking forward to tomorrow!
And lastly I do apologize for some tardiness with emails and a general malaise which has caused me to not be quite on my mark.  I have had months of dental issues but finally yesterday they got my news crowns in (after 2 botched attempts!) and touch wood they feel OK and I am so relieved.  Looking forward to not seeing my dentist till next year!