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!).