Important News Sunday March 23, 2020

In anticipation of further restrictions on our movements I am transitioning all lessons to on-line. It has been going quite well and almost all students seem to have felt comfortable and those who did not I hope will be more used to our situation in the second week.

Piano students:  All I need to be sure of is that I have duplicates of all your books and music.  I think I have and will be making sure tomorrow.  Sometimes I might need to send a pdf and ask for you to print it out for the student.  In a couple of cases I might need your to make a pdf and send it to me. I will give you plenty of time.
Ukulele and guitar students:  I think we did pretty well last week.  I will be mostly working from the red and purple ukulele books and the new jazz material.  I don’t have spare copies of the jazz book but I can order more from Canada. Songs are a bit harder but I can set songs for students to work on and then hear them online but there is too much delay for me to effectively sing or play effectively with a student.
Singers: I am sad that I cannot have you in my studio because being live is so much better, but I have spent this afternoon with Carol working on one of my high quality recorders.  What I will do is record your accompaniments and put them in drop box for you.  They will be mp3s.  Then in the lesson you can play the accompaniment on one of your devices and sing with it so I can hear you.  If time I will also record some voice exercises.  This means singers need to have drop box working on whatever device you are going to use.  Also be prepared for some a cappella singing which is hard but will help me hear whether you have the notes right and whether your expression and diction are appropriate
The authorities keep mentioning “game changer”.  I think that after we survive this current predicament, the world of work and education might never be the same again.  We might all be dragged into an online world whether we like the idea or not.  It was kind of happening anyway and my partner has spent the last few years building on-line learning platforms so I am aware of the trend.  I so like everyone coming to my nice studio…😢
In the mean time let’s do our best to make online music a happy experience by being positive and well-prepared.  Parents, I do not know how you are doing this with no school but I hope some music lessons will help students to feel a bit more like normal is happening.
On another note, I am considering teaching right through April.  The dentists will all be closed and we can’t go anywhere so we all might as well play and sing music.  The only day i will not be working will be Good Friday 4/10.
My best wishes to all and prayers for good health.

News March 16, 2020

It seems in the current crisis that we need to move to online lessons in most cases. I am going to miss you in my studio!
But the good news is face time works really well for remote lessons.
Thanks to my student Kristen who was the volunteer for my first face time lesson, we had a successful time together in spite of a few technical glitches which I am hoping are now sorted out.
I am ready to teach students online and unless you have a late generation ipad, it seems an iphone works well.  My ipad is working well although it is a bit far away from our router but we are working on that.  I have a microphone stand and a cradle for my ipad, picture below (sorry sideways), and it is positioned so my students can see some of me but mostly the piano keyboard and what I need to see is the student’s hands on their keyboard.  Kristen used her iphone and it worked perfectly for her and me.  Having something to prop up the phone on at the end of the keyboard would be a good idea.  Ukulele and guitar students: I will reposition the ipad so you can see me and I would like to see you and try to position your device so I can see your hands not just your music stand!
If the video cuts out we just call again and the disruption seems to be minimal.  I don’t think streaming videos while your student is doing an on-line lesson with me would work well.
If you have never used face time you need to first go to your contacts (hopefully I am there with my phone number 919-599-9372) and up the top you select the video icon, and you are calling on face time!  Experiment with family members if you can.
If you do not have apple devices:  Please use skype.  I recently downloaded an updated skype app and it is free.  The video quality is not as good as face time but it will be perfectly adequate.  My skype handle is my email ( and that is a good way to have you ID because I have most people’s emails.  If you need to use skype please let me know so I am expecting skype call not face time.  May need to experiment a little!
For those who are still OK about coming here, I am fine with that and have set up my studio so there is 8 feet between me and a student.  I will disinfect door handles etc before and after.  I completely support social distancing but I am not having groups of people here, just one at a time.  Please let me know what you are going to do.  Some parents have already done that thank you.
Stay well, and hopefully sane with what is an enormous disruption to our lives.

Important Studio news in March 2020

These are very difficult times for everyone.  I just want to tell you that my studio will remain open for teaching through April 4.  I am taking all precautions with sanitizing my equipment and studio and waiting room and bathroom.  I have my own hand sanitizer (60% alcohol and 40% water and drops of detergent) and sanitizing wipes.  Also I do think soap and water are terrific hand sanitizers and the bathroom is well equipped and I change the hand towels frequently, and will also provide paper towels there.  Students can use hand sanitizer or wash their hands in the bathroom.   They can also bring their own hand sanitizer.

I am so sorry it has come to this pass in America with this virus outbreak.  In all my long years I have never experienced a pandemic.  However, I am remaining positive.  We can all get through this together. I am not particularly worried for myself although I fall in the at risk category, but I am very healthy, and luckily my partner Carol works remotely most of the time and has little contact with other people. I rarely go out and am canceling any off campus activities.

I am setting up to teach remotely if necessary.  I will be teaching through face time as my colleagues have tested out various methods and face time seems to clearest audio and video.  I don’t really want to do this but if schools are closed kids will need home activities and music is so great for that and I can help through on-line teaching.  Teaching on-line presents certain difficulties not the least being a good internet connection and fast enough up and down load speeds.  Parents and students would need some device that can use face time. My usual fees will apply, and can be mailed to my address.

Please let me know any questions.  After April 4 I will have two weeks break and please God it will all be over by April 20 and we can resume normal lessons. 

WIth very best wishes for your health and the health of your families.


March news 2020

Is March going to be “in like a lamb and out like a lion”?  Seems as if we have barely had winter – I have not even broken out the serious pea-coat! 

There are a few things I need to remind you about:

I am taking a spring break from April 6-18.  I hope to get some down time but sadly the break begins with major dental work and will probably be filled with getting over it.  However, I am grateful I have access to great dental work and my dentist gives me gas for the pain and agony.  Lessons will resume April 21 after the break. The break should not be too disruptive as  most students also have spring breaks around these two weeks.

I have committed to students playing for 1/2 hour in the DMTA Playathon Saturday April 25            from 2:30 – 3 pm.  This time the Playathon will be back at Northgate Mall as Brightleaf has new owners who so far have not agreed to host us there. I really need some students to commit to playing on the lovely grand piano Hopper’s supply for us or singing in the acoustically responsive space, or playing ukulele duets with me. These playathons raise money to pay the fees for students and parents who find difficulty financing music lessons.  The money is raised by each student who plays contributing $5 plus donations. (DMTA – Durham Music Teachers Association)

Adult students:  I am the Chair of the DMTA’s adult student recital Saturday March 28 from 3:00  to 5:00 at Croasdaile Chapel. Previous adult performances have varied from beginners to advanced so please consider playing.  It is fun to see what other adults are attempting.  All instrumentalists and singers are welcome.  I will be taking names in March!

March fees:

Please check your emails for where I have put a payment forward after an excused missed lesson.

Monday  and Tuesday students 5 lessons in March

Wednesday, Thursday and Friday students 4 lessons in March and you can add that day in April that falls before the spring break if you wish.

Thanks always for learning music with Flourishing Muse Studio.

February News 2020

Ground Hog day on Sunday- will that groundhog bring us some snow?

It seems that right now – no snow – I am sad – I love some snow, not tons but enough to be pretty! Let’s see what the old ground hog says on Sunday!

The Spring semester has started well and all students seem to be making excellent progress.  I have a few spare times (high schoolers have to quit sometimes to concentrate on sport and/or academics) but I am not anxious to take more students.  I have enough!

I love getting parent feedback so please email me any thoughts you might have about student progress or direction.

And thank you to all who have asked me are my Australian relatives OK in the terrible fires and heat.  My daughter and family live in Fremantle on the West Coast where there have been fires and 41 degree temperatures but generally things are not as serious as on the East Coast.  It is scary to be glad they live 5 minutes from the ocean when you think of towns in Victoria where people have had to leave their homes and take refuge on the beach and in the sea. The devastation of our precious animals, indigenous only to Australia, is heart breaking.  An artist known as Edward made a huge sand picture of a koala on the beach at Barwon Victoria in honour of the death of so many koalas:

I have some important dates for everyone:

DMTA Adult Student Recital will be held at Croasdaile Village Chapel on Saturday March 28 at 3 pm with a reception to follow. I encourage all adult to students to consider playing at the recital.  Last year there were all levels from beginner to more advances.  Please talk to me about playing.

The next DMTA Playathon will be held on Saturday April 25 at Brightleaf Square and my time slot is from 2:30 – 3 pm.  This would be a great way to work on your Spring Soiree piece, by playing in the playathon.  The playathon raises monwy to pay for student scholarships and I have been very fortunate to receive several student scholarships in 2019 and 2020.  The playathon last December raised $1,722! Please consider putting your name down for April 25.

The Spring Soiree will be Sunday June 7 from 3-4:30 pm at Croasdaile Village Auditorium.

Every year the DMTA holds a festival and I have more information about it – it will be on Saturday May 16.  Students prepare a piece and play it for invited specialist in their area and receive feedback.  They can also be rewarded for excellence with certificates from the DMTA.  It would be another goal to add to the ones above for a student wanting to hear more about their piano playing.  Sadly nothing for other instruments.

Finally something for younger musicians at Duke.  I really love Peter and the Wolf and hope some students might be able to go:

Duke University String School Faculty Recital
Saturday, February 1
4 pm — Nelson Music Room, East Duke Building

DUSS faculty perform Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf, with narration by David Ballantyne, WCPE Classical Station’s “Rise and Shine” presenter and producer.Free admission but donations accepted to benefit the Dorothy Kitchen Scholarship Fund.

The Scholarship Fund, named for Director Emerita Dorothy Kitchen, helps families in the community who would not be able to participate in the Duke University String School otherwise. 100% of funds donated go directly to families in need.

Happy New Year

I hope you are all having a great holiday break wherever you are.  I enjoyed some time in South Carolina on the beach but am now working on the new semester, Spring 2020.
Lessons begin on Monday January 6, 2020 at your usual times unless you have let me know you need a change.  I know that is hard till everyone gets back to school but let me know changes as soon as you can.  Let me know if you are no longer going to take lessons also, as I have 4 on my waiting list.
For those who have seen the news, the bushfires are indeed terrible in Australia mostly on the east coast (ie Queenland, NSW and Victoria).  However, my eldest daughter lives on the west coast where there are fewer fires,  and more importantly lives near the sea where some towns in Victoria have had to take refuge!
I am looking forward to seeing all my students again.  A break is lovely but a bit lonely!
FYI, I will be taking a two week spring break from Monday 4/6 to Friday 4/17, and the semester will end June 12.  I am planning the Spring Soiree for June 7
Be safe, have fun, and see you next week.