Durham Children’s Choir

Last Saturday afternoon May 12, I went to hear the Durham Children’s Choir give their 20th anniversary concert at the Hayti Heritage Center.  I was delighted to hear one of my piano students sing in the Cantare Group.  Marten Sipe told me he really liked singing in the choir, and at the concert his favorite song was Donna Nobis Pacem. I thought all 3 groups sang really well; the older group, Bel Canto, was outstanding.  If there are other students who would like to investigate joining the choir please go to their website, https://www.durhamchildrenschoir.org/

summary of days in Fall


Fall semester is almost here!

The semester is about to begin but Fall weather has yet to arrive!  Hopefully some cooler weather will come for the labor day weekend and…

Happy Labor Day weekend to all my students and parents and families! 
Lessons with me begin Tuesday 9/8/2020 next week and each day I will send a reminder because there have been some changes to the schedule (online on my website) and I have a couple of new students:
Welcome to Anna Long and Julia Robert who will begin piano online at least for this year.  I hope for good news about the virus in 2021!
Fees are due this coming week and thanks to all who have paid in advance.  Some people have credits from Summer and I have mostly notified them individually but here is a list:
Kristen 2
Cecilia 1
Jikai 3
Oscar 1
Quinn 1
Kaitlyn 1
Sebastian 1
And just a reminder that Monday and Thursday and Friday people will have 3 lessons in September and Tuesday and Wednesday people will have 4 lessons in September.
I have been thinking a lot about practicing (have even been practicing myself) and I would like everyone to read my summary which I will put below.  I realise the youngest ones might need some interpretation but the key is not to be practicing for half an hour when 15 minutes efficient practice will have a better result.
Looking forward to “seeing” all my students next week!

How to practice a musical instrument effectively and efficiently

Later this year, in December 2020, I will have another larger online concert for all my students who would like to participate.  Of course everyone will want to play or sing at their best, and of course this takes practice.  However your performance will depend not on how much practice you do, but what kind of practice.  

There are two ways that students can practice.  The first way is when you practice on “auto-pilot”, just repeating your piece over and over until it eventually sounds right.  You start playing and all goes well until something sounds not right, so you stop and play that part over and over until it gets better.  This kind of practice is super inefficient and worse, you are practicing stopping to correct yourself once you have started to play your piece.  Guess what? When you want to play for an audience you will automatically stop to correct errors!  So in the end this kind of practice leads to lack of confidence and nervousness.  It is also very boring to practice this way.

What you need to do is practice deliberately and mindfully. I am sure everyone knows this term “mindfully”.  We get told all the time to be mindful and stay in the present, not dwelling on the past or anticipating the future. Deliberate practice involves identifying where you are hesitating or consistently playing erroneously, and looking closely at the section or note or phrase. (My experience is that it is almost always that the fingering needs to be adjusted, but I also experience a lack of identifying certain notes in relation to others around them, which means I need to pay extra attention to letting my muscle memory learn these relationships). 

I have been reading the work of Noa Kageyama on his website: https://bulletproofmusician.com/.  By “bulletproof” he means able to play your selected piece from beginning to end correctly and in a relaxed manner.

Here is his model for deliberate practice:

Deliberate practice “problem-solving” model
1. Define the goal (What do I want this note/phrase to sound like?)
2. Go for it
3. Analyze the result (Did I achieve my goal? If not, what is the problem? What did you do that made the note/phrase sound like it did?) Try recording!
4. Identify potential solutions (What adjustments can I make to make the note/phrase sound more like I want?)
5. Test potential solutions (What adjustments seem to work best?)
6. Implement the best solution (Make those tweaks permanent – i.e. mindful repetition) Record again!
7. Monitor implementation (Are these adjustments continuing to get me the results I want? Or do they need to be refined? If they seem to work, write down your new insights in a notebook so you don’t forget and have to rediscover them tomorrow)

This is hard work!  I know because I have done lots of inefficient practice in my many years of practicing; at the Conservatorium in Sydney Australia I was required to practice 6 hours a day minimum.  I did not know about deliberate practice and as Noa says, I would have achieved the same or better results in half that time.

It takes practice (ha!) to practice deliberately – how about you try it out?

(I will attach a pdf with more details from Noa)

How to Practice

April Update

Hello Parents and Students

We are about to start April with what looks like 4 weeks of being isolated at home – at least those of us who do not have to serve in essential industries.  I send them my prayers for safety and health and also thanks for taking the risks that we at home do not have to take.  I know there are some parents who are in essential industries.

I hope music lessons are bringing some happiness and purpose to students.  I have put the amended online schedule up on my website.  I hope you can all come back to my studio one day soon!

In my emails I will detail the April fees which can be paid online or through check posted to me but please check my math! I admit to be terrible with numbers as I am quite dyslexic.  The fee is $32.50 per lesson, and if two or more are learning there is a 10% discount.  Checks are arriving safely and Zelle is working well.  If you put checks or cash in my mailbox please text me so I can go out and retrieve it.

I feel very, very blessed to be able to continue to earn my living during times when others are deprived of income.  I am worried about kids in general, those who do not have lunches at school and all the ones at home wondering if they will ever see their friends again.  This will pass, even though things might not go back exactly as they were before.  Just have to keep on enduring!

I have a scheme afoot!

I am really enjoying student videos and audio files of their performances and I would like everyone, adults too, to record or video their best performance by April 30 and I will put them all together on my website under Student Performances.  I have some already but this would be a special group.  My partner Carol has offered to do some editing so I suggest I should have all the performances by Tuesday April 28.  You don’t have to wait till then and you could send more than one and I can choose the best!

I love that there is an unintended consequence to everyone having to be shut in.  Students are practicing so much more and of course making huge progress!  Hope it continues into the  future!  Here is Lydia playing her level 2 exam piece “Impertinence”  from memory. Well done Lydia!

I have an even crazier scheme, and that is that each more advanced ukulele student play their part in Spring in the red book and Carol will edit them together. Videos would be best.  We need some practice first and I would send out a firm metronome speed.  Of course you can’t have the metronome playing while recording but hopefully everyone could keep the same speed.  I used to have a digital metronome which had a red flashing light instead of a click – might have to get another one!

Everyone stay healthy and practice lots!

Summer and Fall lessons

Summer lessons are by arrangement and will commence 6/10/19 and end 8/5/19.  Most people have told me their summer times and days .  I will not be teaching from 6/8/19 to 9/2/19.

The Fall Schedule is up.  Please have a look and check that you are in the day/time that you nominated.  There are a couple of seemingly empty spaces but I am still talking to people on my existing waiting list.

If you discover that something has changed for you and you need to change your lesson time or day please give me as much notice as you can.  My schedule is very full.  I do not teach on weekends or after 7 during week days.

Have a safe and amazing summer everyone!