May news from the studio:

The soiree is getting very close now and students should be working on their performance piece.  I am excited about the selections all the students are preparing to play and sing. Here are the details:

15th Flourishing Muse Soiree will be held at Croasdaile auditorium, Croasdaile Village, 2600 Croasdaile Farm Pkwy, Durham, NC 27705.  For best directions go to their website:  You enter through the main reception area and take a name tag.  Please park in the visitor parking at the side near the flagpole. 

The Soiree begins at 3 pm and the ukuleles, guitars, recorders and younger pianists will play in the first half.  Sadly Jolan Motyka cannot come this year to sing and play her guitar!  Other pianists and classical singers will be in the second half.  A tentative program will be coming towards the end of this week.

All students should have chosen their performance piece by now and should be working hard on it. When you are going to perform for an audience, one of the most important things is to know the piece thoroughly and to have played it so often that you are almost bored with it.  I suggest playing it for Mom, Dad, brother, sister, the cat, the dog, the neighbors… the more the better!  I do encourage every one to play because sharing your music is such a wonderful thing for your family, friends and the Croasdaile residents.  If you feel you cannot play, please try and come to support your colleagues!

My adult students are very welcome to play at the Soiree but some decided they wanted work in progress evenings where they can be more informal.  The second Adult Work in Progress evening for 21 years and over will be held this coming Friday May 20 at one of the student’s homes.  I really enjoyed the first event in this series and seems like the students did too,  as all twelve seems to be coming this time!

Summer lessons:

Just a reminder that I will be teaching in summer except for July 20-30 and August 29-September 2.  I have a summer schedule up on this blog and it is a weekly schedule but I know people will not be coming every week.  If you already have a slot there, let me know the dates you can come come if possible and I will enter them in my weekly dairy.  if you don’t have a time and want some summer lessons let me know.  I would really encourage the younger students to come in August because the summer break is so long.  By August camps are mostly over and bored students could be practicing piano and I will try to make lessons a bit different and have some challenges to work on before labor day and Fall semester begins.

Piano Maestro:  This is such a fun program on the iPad and really helps with the regular beat of most music and with sight reading.  If you are already registered with me, go back and try some of the new songs; if not ask me in your lesson and I will register you – it is free.

Students preparing for assessments: Please wish Jake Smedley and Chloe Daniel well for their Music Development Program assessments next week.  Jake is sitting for level 2 and Chloe for level 3.

Liberty Warehouse documentary: Most of you know that my partner Carol Thomson is a documentary maker. She just had the first showing of her documentary about Liberty Warehouse last friday night.  It was very well received and she is now going ahead with finishing the film which will premier in Fall.  It was very exciting to see 5 years work up on the big screen, plus a very few of my stills that I took for her (you can’t see when I was holding tripods and being the “roadie”).

Performance Anxiety:  I know from personal experience that performance anxiety makes playing in public very challenging.  I really like these tips from Suzy S:

Lean on a friend.

Phone a friend for a laugh or support before your piano recital. Multiple studies have shown social interaction boosts relaxation and decreases stress, helping you feel more confident and calm by enhancing your feelings of social stability and belonging.

Warm your ticklers.

A Yale study showed that wrapping your hands around something warm, such as a cup of tea, increases feelings of calm. Why? Stress triggers your body’s fight-or-flight response, drawing blood and heat from your limbs to your core and sending signals to your brain that are interpreted as a sign of distress. Warm them up to switch the signal — and increase feelings of safety and comfort for your piano recital.


The endorphins produced during exercise are proven calm-inducers, according to research from Harvard Medical School. Exercising outdoors in nature before your piano recital can boost that serenity.

Don’t overlook the importance of a good night’s sleep.

Sleep affects not only your physical health, but anxiety and stress. Too little and it can make subsequent nights of restful sleep difficult to achieve, creating a vicious cycle of sleep problems. Make sure to get a full seven to nine hours of sleep for a few nights before your piano recital.


Smile, even though your heart is racing… Research suggests smiling and laughter can reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety.

Ditch the donuts.

Research suggests sugary and processed foods can increase symptoms of anxiety. Kick your cravings and opt for nutrient rich foods, especially those packed with Vitamin B, which improves mental health; omega-3s, which help reduce depression and anxiety; and whole-grain carbs, which help regulate the “feel-good” hormone serotonin.

Be prepared.

Since most fears involve making mistakes, one of the best ways to beat piano recital anxiety is by knowing your material inside and out. In addition, prepare yourself beforehand by laying out clothes, keys, and any other necessities to prevent any additional anxieties associated with running behind schedule.

Lorna’s tip: I have to say that the last one helps me the most.  If you are over prepared, like 110% you can lose 10% and still perform very well.  I also think being in the present moment and thinking ahead in the music helps me greatly.  It is very difficult to achieve, but not impossible!  The focus has to be on the music not on yourself.  If you allow your brain to start arguing with you about who is watching and what people are thinking and what you look like, you will be nervous and will find performing so much harder.  It is inevitable and necessary even to feel some anxiety – gets your adrenaline going – but then you have to be able to cut out distractions and focus on the music.  I know how hard that is!