Long Trip to London and Australia

This summer, 2018, I took a long 6 weeks trip to visit my two daughters, Meredith and Rose and my three grandkids, Lakota, Myla and Joshie.  Meredith and her husband Mark live in Fremantle, Western Australia, and Rose and her husband Simon live in London, or rather did live in London but are moving right now to Bedford, about hour and a half from London. It was a great visit but I was away a long time and I am very glad to be home with Carol, my home, my garden and all my friends and students.  Here are a few pictures from the trip:

Lorna with grandson Joshie at Hampstead Heath

I toured Highgate Hill Cemetery, which is very weird really but I enjoyed the guide’s commentary.  Cool and shady.

Port Beach, Fremantle WA, favorite place to walk even in winter,  loads of Sailboats and container ships waiting to enter the port.


Jarrah forest near Millbrook Winery in the Margaret River region, WA.  Fluffy grass trees and ancient palms.

Walking into Millbrook Winery where my daughter took me for lunch for my birthday.  Almost every day was like this, cold but brilliant blue skies.  The Margaret River region is famous for its wines and Millbrook wines were really good but expensive!

This is what we colonial Aussies do to remind ourselves that Xmas should be cold, as it was in the northern hemisphere where most of us come from.  I personally always cooked a hot roast and hot xmas pudding for Xmas day in December even if it was 100 degrees! Nowadays one goes to the beach for a picnic on Xmas day and, for fun, have a cold July Xmas celebration (with fake snow)!

Playing backyard cricket with my granddaughter Myla.

Mysterious artwork by my granddaughter Lakota – art is one of her best subjects.

On a visit to a Farm stay at Dwellingup WA, the family enjoyed the Trees Adventure park where they have over 30 very scary zip lines all connected by nasty moving bridges.  I did not participate but watched while hoping no-one fell!

Myla age 6 did her course 7 times!


My daughter Meredith had to do it with her 10 year old – took her a while to feel confident!

Of course the 10 year old granddaughter had no fear and had to wait for her mother!

Lorna and Lakota at the Art Gallery of WA – we are supposed to look very alike.

So happy this is happening all over WA – has got me into the habit of taking my own bags here – we need this everywhere!

Back in London – Joshie rode a pygmy hippopotamus at the Zoo and he wasn’t even scared!!

A bevy of swans on the Ouse river in Bedford, my daughter Rose’s new home.

Rose and Lorna enjoying a cold glass of white wine in the pub in London – sadly the next glass will be in Bedford.  I do love London!

The scary banksia man with all his mouths who tries to eat Snuggle Pot and Cuddle Pie! – Myla was reading this Australian book and hearing it all again I realize it has a lot of adult ideas in it – going to re-read it.  I was always terrified of banksia seeds – they are quite big!

Vacation is over and Fall is upon us!

I am back from my wonderful vacation in France and will attempt to put up a slide show on my blog with some technical help from carol!

I could highly recommend tiny villages in the South of France if you love wine, history, food, safety, rivers with lovely places to paddle and swim and kayak, very tall steep mountains for mountain biking (Carol not me) and walking (me), fabulous weekly markets with marvelous food, and churches.  However, do not go there for exciting events and shopping.  Nearest cinema was in Beziers, 1/2 hour + away.  Well, there is bull fighting but not for me.  there were not clothes shops but that saved me lots of money!  I loved it all and would go again any time!

I have a few students scheduled this week but Fall semester starts next week.  I know some people will not be able to come on Labor day and that is fine – just let me know.

Also if you can’t come the week of 8/25 also just let me know.

The Fall schedule is correct.  If you are not going to continue in Fall also let me know as I do have people waiting for times.

I will be glad to see my students soon!

March is Marching out!

Celebrating student achievement

I have exciting news from Elijah Rogan-Kelly.  He has been accepted for 2014/15 in piano studies at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts in Winston Salem (UNCSA).  This is a marvelous achievement for which Elijah has worked very hard over the past year.  He is very excited and I am so happy for him.  He will join Chelsea Daniel who has been there since last August.  Hopefully they will both play at the June 8 Soiree.

I am sorry to be away for most of April but I am so looking forward to seeing my grandson (Joshua David James Ham born 2/15) and of course my daughter and son-in-law.  If you look at the bottom of the lesson emails you can see whether you will have one or two lessons in April but this is how it will work out.  Monday and Tuesday students will have two lessons in April.  Wednesday and Thursday students will only have one lesson in April.  Friday students after lunch will have two lessons in April (fortunately I do not get jet lag!)  It would be really helpful if everyone paid the April fees in the first week of April so I can get my banking done before I leave.  I leave Wednesday April 9 and return Thursday April 24.  Thanks so much in advance!
It seems this long winter is spreading ennui among us all.  I have trouble finding a few minutes a day to practice so I do sympathize but I have noticed that there is a lack of practice going on among students young and less young!  The answer, and this come from my own daily experience, is to have your music on the piano, on the music stand, instruments out and ready, voice warmed up, so when you can find 5 minutes you sit right down and get practicing.  If you wait for the ideal time and a spare 1/2 hour i never happens.  And sometimes you can surprise yourself. You sit down and intend to spend 5 minutes and suddenly you have done 15 or 30 and didn’t even notice.
Try it!
Durham Music Teacher’s Association (DMTA) Festival

This yearly Festival is held at Duke University East Campus in the Mary Duke Biddle building.  It is a great opportunity for students to perform for one of the local University music professors, and be given valuable feedback.  The date this year is Saturday May 17.  These are the most likely categories for my piano students:

Piano Solo, age 5-8, 9-11, 12+

Voice, Musical Theater ages 6-8, 9-11, 12+

I really encourage piano students to perform at the festival – you are not in front of an audience but in one of the teaching rooms at Duke with a friendly professor whose only aim is to help you play better.

If you are interested in performing, I need to have your name, birth date, age on May 1, 2014, Category, and a check for $12 made out to Flourishing Muse (I have to give the DMTA one check from all the students entered from my studio).

There are a lot of conditions but these are the basics you need to know and once I know who is interested in performing I can sort out the rest of the details.

The deadline is April 10, but I am leaving for London April 9 so I will need the details and checks by Friday April 4 so I can hand deliver the entry form over the weekend.


The Durham Music Teacher’s Association raises money through various activities in order to provide scholarships to students in financial need.  If you are interested in applying for a scholarship your family needs to provide verification of income.  I am happy to report that one of my students has received this valuable scholarship over the past two years.

One way money is raised is through the regular Playathons so if you are interested in playing, there are several open spots:

Upcoming Playathon 2014

Saturday April 12, 2014, 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. at Northgate Mall, Durham.

Open slots:
12:30 – 1:00 pm 1:00 – 1:30 pm

Let me know if you are interested.

All this information in much greater detail is on the website: www.durhammusicteachers.org

Guitar students

There are some great free opportunities at The Guitar Center near Northgate Mall.  Most of the free classes are on Saturday mornings.  In March for example there is a free group guitar class, classes on the pedals you can use with an electric guitar, and classes on recording with garage band (something I need to attend).  Parents beware – lots of fabulous guitar stuff for sale at the Guitar Center!

The Durham website has a current list of classes:  http://stores.guitarcenter.com/durham

Student/Teacher Synergy

Teaching music one-on-one forms a very special relationship between the student and the teacher.  The most rewarding outcomes for both come when the student and teacher work together on developing the student’s musical skills.  The teacher works by preparing every lesson well, and by suggesting future directions.The student works by going home and practicing what was assigned in the lesson, then bringing questions and suggestions to the following lesson.

What does not work well, is when students come to lessons expecting that the teacher will somehow inoculate them with the necessary skills to play well.  I have the title Dr but it does not signify a medical Dr!

The very best outcomes result when both teacher and student are excited about the work they can do together.  This teacher gets very excited when a student practices and works on a piece and brings it to me for advice and feedback.  This does not happen just with the advanced students but my beginners as well!

In addition, as students become more skillful, there is nothing to prevent them finding and preparing repertoire of their own, music they like and take the trouble to find on-line, songs they like and find on Ultimate Guitar or You tube.  I would love students to come to a lesson and tell me they have learned a piece or song and can I listen and give some advice!  Some of my students are already doing this and the results are going to show at the Soiree!

Summer (if it ever gets here!)

I am teaching two 1/2 day summer camps for High Strung Violins and Guitars.  Here is the information about my two camps and the Rock ’n Roll camp with Louis Landry.  I miss working with groups and I am excited about the possibility of having a ukulele group and a string band group.  I am also excited about working with High Strung.  They have had a long transition period from their Broad Street store to their much bigger and better premises at the conner of Broad and Markham.  I love their new building with the studios upstairs and the large classroom down stairs

Do your kids dream of playing in band? Learning the latest pop songs? Playing a ukulele? We can help with tha

♫  June 16 – 21 “Beginning Ukulele” for ages 5 through 8. This half-day camp with Lorna Collingridge provides both individual and group instruction with the basics needed to play any stringed instrument.

The final day ends with a concert for the friends and families of the students.

Hours: 9:00 – noon

Fee: $195.00

♫  June 23 – 27 “I’m in a Band” for ages 8 through 12. Open to anyone with basic skills in guitar, ukulele, mandolin or fiddle. Lorna Collingridge takes the kids to the next level with her emphasis on improving technique and listening skills by using everything from the Beatles to Taylor Swift to ColdPlay! Kids in this camp will find out what it takes to put together a band, with a performance for friends and family on the final day.

Hours: 9:00 – noon

Fee: $195.00

♫  July 7 – 25 “Rock ‘n Roll Camp Summer Intensive” for ages 9 through 13, with Louis Landry. This is a three week camp that takes kids from the first steps of choosing music to the grand finale of performing onstage.

WEEK ONE: Choose your songs, choose your part.

WEEK TWO: Break it down!

WEEK THREE: Let’s put on a show.

Plugged-In Concert on the final day!

Hours: 9:00 – noon

Fee: $585.00

Minimum: 3 students

Summer lessons

I will be available for some summer lessons especially if you were interested in maybe 2-3 extended lessons of an hour or two hours.  I am planning to be on Long Island for a few days early in July (lucky me!) and then in the south of France for the first two weeks in August (even luckier me!).


Visiting my Daughter and Family, Fremantle WA, August 2013

I had a really wonderful visit with my daughter and family, full of rich experiences, lots of Grandma duties and fun, and very special times with Meredith and Mark, the Mum and Dad.

It is hard to recall  all the many things I did but here are a few:

  • Becoming Godmother to my two granddaughters, Lakota and Myla, who were baptized while is was there at the Beaconsfield Catholic Church. Neither cried, and both were very interested in all aspects, candles, water, oil, and the very nice Irish priest.
  • Teaching songs to Lakota’s pre-Primary classes to help prepare them to lead the school assembly.  I played ukulele and we all sang Twinkle Twinkle and Leaving on a Jet Plane (very appropriate).
  • Being woken every morning at 6:30 (or earlier) to do art work in bed with Lakota and Myla – I miss that!
  • Bush walking in the hills above Perth, albeit in a gigantic national park – wanted to go to the wild but did not really have the time and opportunity.
  • Walking on the beach and port many times in one of my favorite cities.  I loved watching the enormous container ships come in and out and once, in very stormy weather, I saw two tall ships come in through the heads and anchor at the port.
  • Experiencing a unique Cacao Ceremony with my daughter – it was my birthday present.  We did two long meditations and I have never enjoyed sitting still for so long.  Amazing experience.
  • Buying new hot water bottles and fancy covers – Americans seem not to need hot water bottles in winter but I do.
  • Cooking with my daughter and learning new recipes eg banana pancakes, totally delicious and healthy.
  • On my last Sunday, driving to the port and having fun with Mark and the kids while my daughter rested – we drove in places we were not supposed to because of the construction but what the heck, it was great fun!
  • Seeing David Helfcott play in Perth.  If you have ever seen the movie “Shine”, he was the subject, and was played by Geoffrey Rush.  He is now back to his concert career and at 65 is playing magnificently (often sings as he plays!) His technique is enviable and I loved the way his interpretations were so emotional.
  • But the best thing was just feeling part of my daughter’s family for a whole month.


Bali Holiday

In August/September I traveled to Bali in Indonesia to spend 3 weeks with my eldest daughter, Meredith, her husband Mark, and my granddaughter, Lakota. It was one of the best holidays I have ever had. I so enjoyed seeing Bali and meeting the sweet Balinese people, and especially spending every day with my daughter. Here are some photos from the trip:

My Daughter Meredith and Lakota and the beloved polar bear in the kitchen of our accommodation in Canggu Beach

Mark and Lakota and Buddha at Indiana Restaurant, Lembongan Island

Lorna and Lakota playing ukeleles by the pool

From our balcony in Canggu we saw rice paddies and at the back of one family compound, the family temple. The rice had just been harvested and these fields were either just planted or getting ready to be plant

The temple gamelan in Lembongan Island. They had had a ceremony the night before and we could hear the gamelan playing from a distance. It can sound very overwhelming close up but wonderful to hear floating on the evening air.

When the Balinese have a procession (which happens often), the gamelan is limited to the "walking" instruments. This and the next photo were taken at a cremation procession in Amed, Bali. The funerary coffers are very elaborate and very expensive, made by special artists whose skills are handed down through generations. A local Balinese man explained to us that your parents do so much for you in their lifetime that it is only right they are sent off to the next incarnation with all the correct ceremonies, no matter the cost.

Beautiful sunset over the bay at Lembongan Island, off the coast of Bali.

One of the best things was my birthday present from my daughter, a Balinese cooking class! It was amazing, everything from scratch. We were taught by two chefs from Satie Bali, a very good (but not expensive, strangely enough) restaurant on the beach at Canggu. These are some of the many fresh ingredients, then the chef making sambal oelek (I usually get it from a bottle - no more!),

…and finally the most amazing crepes, made from rice flour, egg and coconut milk with pandan juice (makes the green color) and stuffed with fried grated fresh coconut flesh. To die for! Meredith and I ate every one before anyone else could try them!