There is just one month to the Spring Soirée (June 2) so all students are getting prepared in lessons.  The year is flying by and soon it will be summer in spite of the seemly endless winter weather.

Spring Soirée

Flourishing Muse Soirée will be held as usual at Croasdaile Auditorium, 3 pm, Sunday June 2.  This year there will be a slight difference, owing to my increased numbers of guitar students.  The first half will be from 3:00 – 3:45 pm and will showcase the talents of the guitar and ukulele students.  It will end with a Taylor Swift Tribute so that all my female guitar players can entertain you with the songs they have learned.  I am very grateful to Taylor Swift and I am considering writing to her to say, thanks to her songs (no bad language, appropriate subjects, relatively easy chords, accessible vocal range, and very nice melodies), many girls are inspired to learn guitar and to sing accompanying themselves.

The second half 4:00 – 4:45 pm, will feature all the piano students and will end with my adult vocal students.  Don’t miss the last item – it will be very humorous!  We will begin as usual with the youngest piano students. In the first half I will definitely need several people who are willing to be stage managers and technical experts with my small mixer and microphones – I have two now!

There will be a rehearsal for guitar and ukulele players.  This will be on May 29, 7:30 – 9, at the Outsiders Gallery just off Broad Street.  I am so fortunate to be able to use their lovely space and parents, it is almost next door to Hummingbird, that great coffee shop!  You will not need to be there the whole time – a schedule will be forthcoming!  Please put this in your diary so everyone can have the opportunity to meet and practice together.

Assessments and Festivals

Good luck to the students performing in the Durham Music Teachers Association annual festival, May 18, at the Mary Duke Biddle Building, Duke University (Myles Spencer, Chelsea Daniel and Jannelle Correia).  Good luck also to students sitting for the Royal Conservatory Assessments in May this year in both practical studies and music theory (Ashley Cummings, Chelsea Daniel and Janelle Correia).  The assessments are conducted by the Royal Conservatory Music Development Program.  Some of the younger students have been working on the curriculum for a beginning assessment, Preparatory B, without actually registering for the assessment.  I am planning a fun night when these 6-7 students might play for each other, with my senior student, Ashley Cummings, giving her comments.  If you are interested in reading more about the music development program, here is the web address:

Congratulations again to Chelsea for winning a place at the North Carolina School of the Arts in Winston Salem for Fall.

Spring Semester and Summer

The Spring Semester officially ends June 7.  Please make sure students can come to lessons this week so goals for the Summer and Fall can be discussed.  If it is convenient the June fees can be added to the May fees.  Thank you very sincerely again for learning music with me and enabling me to earn my living doing what I love.

In summer I will continue to teach lessons in the afternoons, hopefully Monday to Thursday so I can have one day to work on my own compositions on Friday.  If you want to continue please let me know.  A number of people have already done that and I am working on scheduling.  The summer sessions will run from June 10 to July 19.  after that I will be traveling until labor day in September when lessons will commence for Fall (Tuesday 9/3).

I have found a venue where I could do some morning teaching in groups and I will be communicating ideas for this in the very near future.  I am thinking of a week of guitar or ukulele for beginners, and a week of vocal music in a small group.

I do have one spare time at the moment for a student to commence music lessons, Wednesday 4-4:30 if you know of anyone who might be interested.

Why is music theory so important?

This is a question which is often asked.  I think understanding music theory is critical to becoming a good musician, which is more than simply being able to play the notes on a page.  Here are a few reasons why:

  •  Without an understanding of major/minor tonality, it is harder to sight read, and harder to transpose music.  Understanding keys and chords and how they work makes playing piano from a melody with guitar chords so very much easier (called playing from a “chart”).  It also helps guitar players to be able to substitute chords in places where they might want to vary the ones they have found on-line.


  • Transposing is very important for singers who find the music they want to perform to be too high or too low.  Hiring someone to do it for you is expensive and time consuming compared to being to do it yourself.  Can’t do it at all unless you understand something about how music works.


  • Students love to compose pieces and song of their own but this is the problem; unless you can write down the composition, it will become lost or forgotten.  In addition, no-one else can play it if it is just in your head.  Being able to notate compositions in either traditional notation or tablature is very powerful.  However, it is very difficult unless you have some understanding of music theory. Working with Finale, the music notation software, is impossible unless you understand music theory.

Learning with Flourishing Muse means you learn music theory and musicianship from the very beginning, starting with seeing patterns in the music as hear it and as you see it on the page.  Some students want to learn theory more formally but all students encounter it in lessons.