First, I want to congratulate Chelsea Daniel on being accepted for years 10-12 at the North Carolina School of the Arts in Winston Salem. She has worked extremely hard and deserves this honor. Ask Chelsea how much she practices each day and each week! (She tells me 4 hours a day!) You would have heard Chelsea play so beautifully at the recent Soiree at Croasdaile auditorium. I am so excited for her but sad she will not be coming to piano lessons here in Fall. She will also be missed at her school, the Durham School of the Arts. Not to forget her family and her sister Chloe who is already missing her!
Piano and Theory Exams
Piano students are getting ready for the national examinations. We have had a couple of name changes in the program this year but it is the same curriculum and the same assessment instruments all administered by the Music Development Program (http://www.musicdevelopmentprogram.org/) partnered with the Royal Conservatory from Toronto (http://www.rcmusic.ca). Ashley and Chelsea will sit for level 4 piano and basic rudiments theory. Janelle will sit for level 2 piano. Several other students are working on level 2 and 3 curriculum but not sitting for the exams. I do encourage students and parents to consider actually taking the exams and getting the certificates for their portfolios. it gives you a great sense of achievement and it lets others know exactly what you have achieved.
Guitar and Ukulele
I am very happy that many ukulele and guitar students are interested in learning to read treble clef notation. Tablature is great for getting started with guitar, and reading popular notation, but if you want to work with other musicians you need to be able to read traditional notation. In addition, tablature has its limitations when you are reading something that is unfamiliar, because it does not give you many clues about the rhythm and note values. It is great fun teaching guitar and ukulele! And piano!
The Spring Soiree will be on Sunday June 2 at 3 pm. I am sorry my soiree dates always seem to clash with other performances but it is wonderful that students have so many opportunities to perform. I will be holding a rehearsal for guitars and ukuleles the week before the soiree, date and time and place to be announced. Start thinking about what you might perform!
Summer seems a long way off but I am rethinking what Flourishing Muse might offer in the summer. This year I am not teaching any camps at the Carolina Friends School. I loved doing the camps but found it really exhausting and I missed my regular students. A number of students have indicated that they would like to do at least some lessons over summer. It is such a very long break. The Spring semester ends June 7. I would to offer a summer lesson schedule to those students who would like to continue from June 7 to August 24. I would also like to offer some extended morning “camps” to those students who would be interested. Some students who are in year round schools and some who are home schooled might also want to continue lessons. I am sorry I am not going to be running any full day camps. I know how hard it is for parents to find full day camps during the summer and I sympathize, and I know picking students up midday is problematic.
This what the summer sessions might look like:
Lessons: The usual half hour or hour lessons would be in the afternoon/early evening hours. I would be happy to be flexible in this schedule as long as you can nominate times and weeks in advance if possible. Students in year round schools can of course keep their lesson times. Some home schooled students might need to move to the afternoons after June 9. I will be taking one week off sometime in July but not sure which week as yet. Anyone who would like a couple of hour lessons instead of weekly half hour lessons, please let me know. I will be starting to fill the summer schedule very soon.
Camps: I am working on offering morning sessions between 9-12 am for groups of students at High Strung’s new studio in Markham Street, Durham, (near Ninth Street). These might be one morning or a series of four mornings for the following topics:
Guitar Ensemble/Band – for students who are already able to play chords and read music
Beginner guitar for those just starting out
Ukulele ensemble/band – for students who can already play some chords and accompany songs
Beginner ukulele for those just starting out
Music Theory and musicianship for students already learning an instrument or singing in a choral group
Finale – the computer program for composing and notating music (you would need a laptop and finale already loaded)
Vocal group – for students who love to sing!
Morning session for individual students who want to advance their skills in various musical ares (these would be at my usual studio)
Students and adults of any age would be welcome, and you would not have to already be one of my students to join the summer sessions, so please let anyone know who might be interested. If you are interested please give me some feedback because this is a first attempt to do this and I would love it to work for me and for my students. If you let me know about any interest I can start making firm plans.
Easter and Spring Break
I am not going to be teaching from 4/1 to 4/5 nor on friday 3/29 but I am going to be teaching Thursday 3/28 now for those able to come to lessons. It is a long semester and we need a break but it does not mean you let dust form on your instrument! You can still practice!
Which brings me to making progress on your instrument. These are the keys:
Practicing regularly and making this a habit. Daily would be ideal, but 5 days out of 7 would be really great. it is the regularity not the amount of time necessarily. Ten minutes every day is 70 minutes a week and that is a whole lot better than one hour once a week. Students who have been learning for a couple of years should be trying to practice 20 minutes five days a week minimum and that is on the lesson work and exercises, not “goofing around!”. High School students who are serious about their practical skills should be trying for an hour 4-5 times a week of concentrated focussed practice.
Practice mindfully. This means have a plan for your practice time, even write it out on a card you can keep in your binder. Exercises should come first to warm up, then the hardest pieces while you are concentrating well,then your technical work (scales etc), and then play through some pieces you know well and want to keep in your repertoire. THEN goofing around and composing – all important, but you can’t compose well without some practical skills!
Thank you so much for learning with Flourishing Muse. I love teaching and running my little business and I am excited about the summer and how it might unfold and who might join me in learning more about music and having fun with some different ways of doing things.