April showers bring the flowers!

They certainly have – I have a garden again although lots more work needs to be done!

We have 2 more months of lessons before the summer semester begins and I will put dates below and ideas for taking lessons in summer.

The Playathon:  Students are invited to perform on Saturday April 21, from 2-2:45 pm at Northgate Mall, and we will be situated right next to the old Macy’s store front inside of course. There will be a grand piano and chairs for the ukulele players.  Singers, there will not be a microphone so you need to be ready to sing out – not shouting just good projecting.  I would like students to come for the whole 3/4 hour time unless there is something imperative that you need to attend in which case please talk to me about it.  If necessary students could go first or last.  Each student performing needs to contribute $5 to the scholarship fund and you can either give that to me and I will write the DMTA a check or you can put your $5 in the box at the playathon.  The money we raise goes towards scholarships for students who cannot afford music tuition.

Thanks so much to all the willing playathon participants so far.

Adult work-in-progress night, otherwise known as the Flourishing Muse Salon, will be held at my place on Friday May 25 from 7:30 – 9 pm.  Adults please consider performing or even just attending to support your colleagues.  We have very nice evenings with adult beverages!

The Spring Soirée:  it is now coming up very soon.  All students should be thinking about what they are going to perform.  Talks to me about it soon!  The Spring Soirée will be held on Sunday June 3 from 3-5 pm at Croasdaile auditorium as usual.  More detailed information will be given closer to the event.

Spring Semester ends on Friday June 8. I will be leaving for London shortly after this date and will return July 23.  Summer lessons will commence Monday July 30 for those who are available and want to continue.  I do encourage students to return to lessons then if they can – I am sorry I will be away so long but this is the price I pay living in America so far from my daughters, who themselves are spread out all over the globe! 

Summer Lessons:  I will be teaching a summer schedule from Monday July 30 to Friday August 24.  I will be talking to everyone about lessons times and dates.

Fall Semester 2018:  Hard to contemplate when we barely have Spring yet but I wanted to let you know that Fall Semester begins on Tuesday September 4, the day after labor day.

One last item.  For many years I have taught guitar as well as ukulele but I am gradually phasing out guitar.  I still love the guitar and I do play for myself sometimes but it is a lot of extra work preparing material for each student.  I have two guitar students, one delightful boy who will probably transition to another teacher for electric guitar tuition and a lovely high school girl who likes the same melancholy folk type songs that I do (eg Eed Sheeran!).  Ukulele I love and will continue to take ukulele students especially young ones who are fun to teach.  Ukulele is so good for little fingers and now many artists are incorporating ukulele into their lineup!

Videos: With Carol’s help, I will be putting up more videos this weekend so have a look under videos and I will be doing more videos so I keep my hand in putting them up on my blog.  I forget how to do it in between postings!  Love to see students on video and have to tell you that some of my students who are learning Yiruma’s “River” watch Ashley playing the piece to learn how to do it!

Happy Spring!

April 2018

April is on the way hopefully with some warmer weather! 

First, a reminder about lessons and the Spring Break:

I am teaching today (Monday 3/26) and tomorrow (Tuesday 3/27) so hope to see all Monday and Tuesday students this week.

I am on my Spring break Wed. Thurs. Fri. this week and also Mon. and Tues. next week (break is from 3/28 – 4/3 inclusive). Am going hiking near Boone!

Next week I am teaching Wednesday 4/4, Thursday 4/5 and Friday 4/6.  If you are not coming to lessons on any of those days please let me know.  I realize it is DPS break.

Full lessons commence again Monday 4/9/18.

Now to other news:

Adult students had a very nice evening Friday 3/16 where 8 of my students played their works on progress.  So good to support each other in achieving goals like attempting new works and polishing a piece for performance.

Ukulele students (8 of them!) had a get together to meet each other and see what everyone else is up to.  We all played and sang several items together which was great fun for me and I hope also for the students!  I have to find another larger space for Ukulele get togethers – parents had to stand!  I have music for 4 part ukulele orchestra and am very keen to have everyone participate!

Congratulations to Oscar Barbaza (brother of Quinn, whom I was helping with voice for a few months) who has been accepted for NC Governer’s school for voice!  Wonderful achievement.  Oscar attends the DSA.

Playathon for the DMTA will be April 21 Saturday afternoon 2-3 pm at Northgate Mall.  All my students are welcome to perform during this time but I do need firm commitments and will be asking for that after 4/9.  Each student is asked to donate $5 towards the DMTA scholarship fund which helps students take music lessons where their family cannot afford to pay for lessons.

Soirée advance notice – the Spring Soirée will be held on Sunday June 3, from 3-5 pm ay Croasdaile Auditorium as usual.  After the break I will be talking to students about their selections.

Adjudicating: As in previous years I will be assisting the DSA piano department in adjudicating the entries there in the Piano Festival.  It is a wonderful day where I see so many DSA students play piano.

Have a very happy holiday time over Easter and Passover and just time off!  Lots of chocolate bunnies to you all!  America does not take a big break over Easter but Australia shuts down for four days – I can’t seem to break that habit!

Is it Spring yet?

It seems to be trying to be Spring with Daffodils out, and warmer temperatures but you know with they say about March!  In like a lion, out like a lamb – could be some cold to come!

Will be concise:

  • I hope students are thinking about practice and how to make a regular time each day to get to it.  If you are a morning person like me, morning practice is best; if you are not, then afternoon and evening practice is the way to go.  Maybe sacrifice that 1/2 hour of TV?
  • The ukulele evening Tuesday March 6 from 7:15 – 7:45 pm:  I want to do this because I think it will inspire all the ukulele students and it will be fun to have all 8 here together.  However, it will be a squash! I can seat the 8 ukulele students but fitting parents in will be hard and I fear they might have to stand.  It will only be for 1/2 hour.  If you want to drop off your student and avoid the chaos, that would be fine too.  All students know what they are going to play (see the weekly emails).
  • Flourishing Muse Salon for adults, Friday March 16 from 7:70 – 9 pm:  Please let me know you can come and play or sing if you have not already done so.
  • Playing duets is a wonderful way to learn abut the importance of counting the beats and the need for cooperation when you are playing with someone else.  I often play the teacher’s duet part with students but more important is students playing together with equal duet parts.  Some of my students have started on duets not just on piano but with piano and ukulele, piano or ukulele with voice, and with two ukuleles.  I certainly hope to feature duets at the Spring soiree and I might even have a special evening for duet-ists! My adult student and I are thoroughly enjoying playing duets such as the Winnsboro Cotton Mill Blues.
  • I have also decided to shorten my Spring break to one week.  This is because I have a lot of new young players and at that time it is hard fro them to miss two lessons in a row, especially given that I will be away 5 weeks in summer.  It is a little different in summer as everyone has summer activities and camps and travel on their minds.  This means I will be teaching Monday 3/26 and Tuesday 3/27 and then taking my break from 3/28 to 4/3.  I will be teaching Wednesday 4/4, Thursday 4/5 and Friday 5/6.  I know with the various school breaks that these dates may not coincide but just let me know when you won’t be coming to lessons outside the 3/8 to 4/3 dates.

Thanks always fro learning music with my studio, Flourishing Muse.

February 2018: What will the Groundhog See?

Thank you all for starting the year with Flourishing Muse studio.  I am really enjoying seeing where all the students are headed in 2018.  I hope we are not headed for more wintery stuff – 11 inches of snow is enough for the season!  Can the Groundhog be kind!

I thought I might repeat some practicing advice and I am going to add a 6th point.   I am also going to write the points in language suitable for 5-8 year olds.

Practice:  It is a perennial subject in a studio.  How often, how long, in what order?  There is no one answer but there are a few ideas I would like to offer:

1. Regular works best, at least 5 out of 7 days a week. 

2. Regular times of day work best – some people can work it into their mornings, some afternoons, some evenings.  For kids, a practice plan with places to check when you practiced works well.  It probably works well for adults too! 

3. When you practice, do the hard work at the beginning and award your self enjoyable playing at the end.

4. I cannot practice without warming up.  If I try to go straight to the pieces I am always disappointed in how I play.  Warm ups I like are either Dozen a Day or Hanon. Two to five minutes will make a huge difference.

5. Make a list each week of the pieces you are going to work on.  I usually do this in your emails – maybe you can print them out or have them on your phone beside you (working on my set list this morning!

   6.    There is nothing like having a goal to motivate you to practice and polish pieces.  I do provide twice yearly goals for all students, as well as adult work-in-progress evenings and a new venture is a ukulele group night as I now have 8 ukulele players who need to meet each other.  I might also have a piano duet night later in the semester!  You can also set your own goals and tell me – I would be excited to help you meet your goals.

Practice points for the younger musicians:

  1. Practice 5 days each week (2 days off!)
  2. Choose mornings or afternoons or evenings and stick to it!
  3. Do your new pieces first and the ones you know later and then you can do “goofing off” piano style!  YOu could even compose some music to play for me – always give your pieces a name.
  4. Can Mom or Dad print out the emails I send?  See if they can help you see the lists I make each week.
  5. What are you going to play at the next Soiree in June?

Happy practicing!  I used not to like practicing when I was young but now I am so happy when I get time to sit down at the piano or ukulele or guitar and practice.

Spring Semester begins January 8

I have some new students so please forgive me if I repeat some things from pervious emails.  I hope everyone is having a great start (if freezing cold) to 2018 and you are all excited by the slight possibility of SNOW!!❄⛄

(This emoji thing is catching!)

The schedule is fairly set now and you can see it on my blog www.fsmstaging.net under Spring Schedule 2018.  Please let me know any errors of glitches or changes – the hours between 4-7 are very tight.

I hate to ask but I would really like everyone to fill in fresh forms.  Cell numbers and sometimes addresses and emails change and I keep both paper records and all your details in my phone.  I have redesigned the form a little and the critical pieces of information are your cell numbers.  Parents, can you tell me which parent has which cell number please.  Emails: I prefer gmail because that makes it easy on evernote but happy to use other emails however please give me a clear indication of whose email it is.  Students who have email and who USE it, I would like yours also and your phone if you can text (is that a silly question in 2018?) The form and my conditions are attached.  Please bring the form filled in to your first lesson. It would be handy also to have school and grade as well as birthday (School students only – adults do not have to ‘fess up).

The Spring Soiree will be Sunday June 3 from 3-5 pm BUT may not be able to be at Croasdaile owing to extensions.  I will firm up a venue later in the semester.

I have some new ukulele students and I will email ukulele parents separately about what my plans are this semester, and what books they might need.

Adult students will be having a work-in-progress evening in February, otherwise known as the Flourishing Muse Salon.  Sadly cannot invite everyone as it is usually at my house.  Very fun night to see everyone play for each other.

Emails:  After every lesson I send an email to every student or parent, as is appropriate.  For beginners I will try to make it more detailed but generally the email is a reminder of what I would like the student to focus on during the week leading up to the next lesson. For school students it is important that they have access to this email.  It contains what we did the previous week, what to do this week and and record of payments and dates for following lessons.  There seem to be two problems.  Older students tell me they don’t check emails. The problem is I cannot text from evernote.  I can share the screen if the receiver has the free version of evernote on phone or ipad.  Let me know if someone wants me to do that;  then I do not need to send emails because you could see them in real time as I write them each week.  Can all older students also read this email please?

For younger students the most successful way seems to be for parents to print out the Today: segment of the email and put it where the student can see it, perhaps in their binder.  I know this is extra work but I do think it helps the student to do focussed practice. over grade 5 perhaps the student can hand copy the practice items for themselves – good writing practice.  I can barely hand write anything legible these days!

Practice:  It is my problem as well.  The only solution is to make a time and put it on your noticeboard and stick to it (note to self – do that this afternoon).  Even 10 minutes is so much better than none.  Beginners even 5 minutes a day makes progress.  Parents of grades 1-3 please be involved in practice in some way.  Sit with the student, or listen and give encouraging feedback – makes a huge difference.

Last thing – the Spring semester goes from January 8 to June 9 but I will be taking a Spring Break over easter from March 26 to April 6.  this cooincides with Holy Week and the DPS regular timetable Spring break.

Thanks everyone and Happy Start to the Year of 2018.

Holiday News 2017

Fall semester is coming to an end and soon we will all be relaxing on holidays. I hope everyone stays safe and warm.

I was so happy with the Fall Soiree.  Everyone played so well from beginners to advanced.  It was lovely to see Myles Spencer back from France and playing well.  Loved seeing he and Quinn talking about piano business!

There were too many highlights to go into individually but congratulations to everyone who took part.  You did it!  Loved to see so many parents and friends and adult students and Croasdaile residents.  Thanks so much to Croasdaile and to the Rev. Denise Waters, the amazing director of just about everything at Croasdaile.

Lessons finish on Friday December 22 except for a few students who are leaving early.  Most people have let me know their movements and almost all fees are paid to the end of year.  If you have not paid December fees I will send reminders this week.

I have decided that I will not start the Spring semester until Monday January 8.  The public schools seem to have cut short the Christmas holiday and I feel like I need a bit more time to prepare for 2018 and get back to my compositions and my novel.  I hope everyone is OK with that.  The first week in January is short anyway and parents and students might appreciate a bit of time to get back into school.  If anyone needs to move lesson times please let me know soon.  I will be away over Christmas but on email.

I will have the Spring Schedule on my blog very shortly – it will look much the same as the Fall schedule unless you let me know of changes you might need.  If you need to leave my studio and/or join another studio, I am well aware that there is not always a perfect match between teacher and student so please feel easy about talking to me if you feel you need to move studios. I also realize that my schedule is somewhat constrained by not working after 7 at night and not working on weekends.

I have been reading some posts by Jeremy Denk, concert pianist.  He was asked “How do you practice?”  His answer can inform all pianists!

How do I practice? Well, amazingly enough, I’ve found myself lately going back to the two most fundamental piece of advice of my teacher in new Mexico, whom I studied with from 10-15. First, never play faster than you can think.  Second, practice hands alone. I practice hands alone 50-75% of the time.  It is absolutely the best – if the most frustrating – way to practice, and you learn so much about yourself so fast.  Then you must be truthful with yourself.  Did you brain know that note was coming? Or did your fingers play it before your brain could think?

Every so often, remind yourself that music is supposed to be fun.

(Extract from the Music Teachers National Association Magazine, Dec/Jan. 2017 p. 15)

Thank you to all the students who participated in the playathon.  One student told me it really helped him to be prepared for the Soiree.  There will be more playathons next year to raise money for the DMTA scholarship fund.

I saw this on my MTNA newsletter – maybe a slight exaggeration!


Lorna Collingridge