The Soirée

Welcome to new students and performers! I call my twice yearly concerts Soirées which is not technically quite correct (afternoon time!) but it is such a nice word!  Here is the definition: an evening party or social gathering, especially one held for a particular purpose, e.g. a musical Soirée.

The Soirée for Fall 2019 will take place on Sunday Dec 8 from 3 -5 pm in the Croasdaile Auditorium, at Croasdaile Village.  The clearest directions are on their website.  Once you get to the main entrance, register at the desk and ask the way to the Auditorium. 

Website for directions:

Welcome new families!  It can be a bit confusing getting to the right place at Croasdaile so leave lots of time.  Enter the campus via the gated guard box and turn left into the large double carriageway. Please make sure you park in the visitor carpark beside the American Flag, not on the divided road leading up to the entrance.  Come in the big covered entrance and register at the desk and ask directions to the Auditorium.

I would like to invite all students and friends and family to come to the Soirée.  It is a lot of work but I arrange it because I think it is the friendliest way to share musical gifts in a supportive atmosphere. 

I invite my new students to come to their first Soirée so they can see what happens and how their colleagues play. I also invite my adult students to come and support the students who are performing. 

Here is some information for performers:

The ukuleles and guitar performances will be first in the program, followed by a selection of piano duets and student compositions. After this the pianists will perform and to finish the singers will have their turn.  I am not planning an intermission but will have very short breaks after each section to reset. Everyone who is performing should try to arrive no later than 2:40 with ukuleles and guitars in tune.  I know a couple of students have other prior engagements and are coming when they can but I would really appreciate it if people could come and stay for the whole event.  

Flourishing Muse Soirée Etiquette

  • Please arrive 20 minutes early in order to get settled. 
  • Please dress nicely. Think Sunday best – jeans are OK if nice jeans, no holes.  Girls please wear long pants or leggings if they are on the stage.
  • Practice stage presence and bows at home. Walk up to the piano, take your seat, make sure the bench height is right for you, take some seconds to orient yourself and then play. When you are finished, get up from the piano, move away from the bench, and bow from the waist to acknowledge the applause.This adds polish to your performance and most importantly, acknowledges the audience appreciation.
  • Please remain seated when you are not playing and plan to stay at least for your half. It is impolite to leave early. 
  • Talking and moving about are distracting to the performer and audience. Please be a polite listener. 
  • If an emergency makes it impossible for you to arrive on time, please wait until an item is finished before taking a seat.
  • Applause should consist of clapping only.
  • Flash photography is PROHIBITED during a performance. If you wish to take a photograph, please wait until the student has finished the performance. Only people who have the permission of the parent should take photographs of students under 18. You can video your student performance but don’t interrupt the view of others in the audience. 
  • Food and beverages are not allowed in the auditorium.
  • Cell phones, pagers, and other electronic devices should be turned off during the performance. 


The Soirée 2019 program will be ready before thanksgiving and I will send out for corrections and changes.  Some people are playing the same pieces but I like students to choose their performance piece and if they choose the same, we will have a wonderful variety of interpretations.

Warming up:

All students should warm up their pieces, their fingers, and/or their voices before arriving at the Soirée.


Music practice is sometimes a fraught subject! Of course any skill is greatly enhanced by practice but the right kind of practice is critical.  The brain needs to be engaged. With the piano and the strings, you need to focus on a practice plan.  Everyone is different but for me, I must do exercises first to warm up and work on technical issues, then I will work on the piece(s) i next need to perform.  Some people have a warm-up piece they like to play to get in the groove.  If I have time I will play things I want to learn or things I just enjoy playing.  But the important practice needs to happen before the pleasure, because your focus is sharper at the beginning of your practice, and it declines gradually as your practice time extends.  You can’t do worthwhile practice just sitting at the piano or ukulele or guitar and twiddling away.

However practice is a subject which needs to be age specific.  Young people need less time than older, but the most important thing I think for young people is practice has to come from self-motivation.  You cannot force practice.  It must be something they either want to do or are willing to do without being forced.  Often you want to demand that someone practice but it only sets up resistance.  

Motivation is the key.  It is the teacher’s job to set up motivation but the parents to encourage and show interest (sorry parents, your eyelids might be drooping but hang in there with the “I love that piece”.  It works).  I don’t always succeed with the motivation and I have various strategies but the twice yearly Soirées are part of it.  Yes, I have students who feel they cannot perform in front of people, but I have many more who look forward to the Soirees as a goal they have reached to mark their improvement.  


Singers are in a special category.  Singing is so embodied that you need to at least use your singing voice every day, and you need to be much more specific about warming up.  Lip trills are crucial on a daily basis.  Then you need to practice your pieces as often as you can.  Mostly I teach older singers and high school age singers. The little ones need to sing too but I like piano players to sing as they play. Ukulele and guitar players have to do double practice!

Finally, playing music is about enjoying your playing and/or singing.  Please enjoy the weeks leading up to the Soirée – I am going to!


PS. One of my students gave me a very old music magazine and I thought you might like to see the cover.  The date is May 1918.  Even I was not alive then and in fact my mother was only 11 years old.  Note what is says about music “A Present National Necessity”.  

Lorna Collingridge PhD

Lessons in Piano, Ukulele, Voice and Composition

Flourishing Muse LLC