Fall News

Welcome back to the full Fall semester which starts today and last to mid December.  It is very short compared to the Spring semester, only 16 potential weeks compared to 22 in Spring.  So we have lots to work on, preparing for the December Soiree which will be 12/10/17 at Croasdaile Auditorium.  

Jut a reminder – September fees are due now.  I want to say again how grateful I am to be able to work in my own home and have wonderful students come here and allow me share my skills and knowledge, accumulated, as you know, over many years.  The students often ask me (the young ones) how long I have played the piano – the answer is 65 years!  I started piano when I was 7 (see if they can do the math!).  Thank you all my students now and past who enable me to earn my living doing something I love.

I am in the process of revising my blog and adding two more pages (when my tech support – Carol – has time).  One will be for creative work, my poetry and writing and also my compositions.  Something happened last week and I suddenly felt an imperative to revise my compositions and see if they can be aired somewhere (more to come about this enterprise).  The other will be for videos and photos mainly of my students (with your permission of course).  I have wonderful videos, most recently of the amazing Lucas aged 9 who is auditioning to sing the national anthem at the Ice Hockey game. He has a wonderful voice – he has to be chosen!

I have been thinking about motivation and really it is about setting goals for yourself.  Last week someone set a goal for me and it has really helped me to get going on something I have put aside for years.  They did not really intend to galvanize me quite like this but it has happened!  We all need reasons to strive to do something that is not easy – learn a musical instrument, sing, compose music, write.  In my studio I try to provide suitable goals for everyone according to their disposition and interest.  

The Royal Academy of Music, based in Toronto but operating in the USA as the Music Development Program, says:

“The strongest potential for realizing musical potential is provided by following a path of structured learning… On each step of the musical journey, students should be given benchmarks to measure themselves against”.

These benchmarks have to vary according to the student’s age, ability, and personality.  These are some of the benchmarks I provide:

  • Regular lessons – coming to music each week is a motivator in itself.  I am not very demanding of students because I want everyone to enjoy their lessons but I do give a lot of encouragement, letting students know I am looking forward to them playing certain pieces for me the following week.
  • The twice yearly Soirees where everyone is invited to entertain family and friends and Croasdaile residents with their music. Over the past 10 years students have made remarkable advances from one soiree to the next.  It is so exciting to see this happen.
  • There are seasonal benchmarks too – Halloween, thanksgiving, the holiday in Winter, Easter and more.  I try to include pieces relevant to the season and encourage especially children to play these for parents and friends.
  • Adult students have a Salon every few months and they take that very seriously and prepare well ahead of time.
  • For those students who are naturally ambitious, there are the Royal Conservatory examinations.  These are conducted in America in May at Cary Music School.  Numbers of my students have successfully sat for these exams in the past.  The curriculum is very thorough and the assessments are recognized internationally and at high schools and colleges in America.  I am very familiar with this type of benchmark because we have the same system in Australia. The curriculum is very varied and students have opportunities to present own choice pieces approved by the teacher, as well as the set pieces.  Composers of all types of music from Baroque to Jazz are represented.  It takes a year to prepare fully so I am now starting students on this curriculum who have expressed an interest (or parents have done so). 

So everyone think about your benchmarks!

It’s back to school time – almost!

I am so very sad to have to tell you that one of my students, William Painter, died in an accident yesterday.  He would have been 10 years old on August 22. He was the eldest son of my neighbors, Carrie and Rusty Painter, and the brother of Ben.  He was such a funny, smart, kind boy and always thanked me at the end of every piano lesson.  He was such a responsible person  and often brought things over the road very carefully.  His parents are such wonderful people. At the Spring Soiree he played “Firefly”, the first piece in the book; he had advanced way beyond that but he sensibly wanted to play that piece because he said he “knew it so well”.  “Firefly” will always be William’s piece.

On other less sad matters:

My back door – you will all be happy to know (or not) that we have a new screen door at the back.  it was at least 3 times as expensive as the previous useless one and it springs back into place rather smartly so be cautious first time you come in.  If you are bringing a guitar or ukulele, please be careful and ask me or someone to hold the door for you.

The Holiday Soirée will be on December 10 at Croasdaile Auditorium from 3-5 pm.  I am so thankful that their renovations are not starting until January 2018 and I can still use the fantastic Ponder Hall! Everyone can start thinking about what holiday songs they might like to perform at the Soirée. All types of numbers are welcome – Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and any I have missed and including just fun holiday numbers. 

The schedule is almost set now – click on Fall Schedule and please double check your times.  It is always hard at the beginning of a semester when lots of changes are happening. I have had to move several people a number of times so thank you for being understanding everyone!

Fall is a short semester so let’a get working right away!

Summer News

Summer news 

I am leaving for London on Friday and am already missing my students.  You fill my life with music and all your stories about what you are up to!  I will be teaching again August 7 and look forward to see at least some of my students and then the rest after labor day in September.

I have sad news.  My calico cat Lexi passed away last Friday.  She was diabetic but in her last week she became very ill.  On Friday the scan showed she had Cushings Disease as well as cancer and other issues.  The vet called us and said come now to say goodbye.  It was very sad.  She was a gentle cat and she loved the children.  Even when she was not well if she heard kids’ voices she would come out to investigate.  Some of you were especially attached like Leo and Carina and I know there were more.  I never knew her to bite or scratch anyone. She just wanted lots of love especially as she became more ill. Requiescat in pace, Lexi-Puss.

On a happier note, congratulations to Quinn Barbaza who was awarded first class honors in his level 3 assessment with the Music Development Program.  These exams are not easy and this was his first time but he did really well!  The assessment involves not just piano playing but musicianship and theory of music as well.  I don’t think you can be a really good pianist without understanding music which means keys and scales and time signatures!

Chelsea Daniel, as some of you know, has been my intern for the past 4 weeks.  We did not pre-arrange this as we only had the brilliant idea when she came home for the summer from her music school.  However, we are hoping she can be given some credit for the work she has done for me.  Playing piano and teaching individual lessons can be lonely sometimes, so it was very special to have someone with me and to be able to talk about pedagogy with her.  Made it even more special seeing I taught her at Immaculata when she was tiny, and then taught her piano as she prepared to audition for the NCSA in Winston Salem.

Anyone who is interested in piano lessons with Chelsea over the summer here are her contact details:

Chelsea Daniel

107 West Trinity Ave

Durham NC 27701


Over the summer, try to fit in some practice even just playing around on the piano or ukulele or guitar – just so it it does not become a stranger to you by September!  The ideal would be 10 minutes 5 days a week or more if you love playing – I do!

See you after London!  I leave Friday 6/30 and come back 7/28 but then going to the beach – lucky me!

Sumer is icumen in

… as the medieval round says.

Spring Soirée was wonderful!

Congratulations to all students who performed – so many parents and friends and residents said how much they enjoyed it all, from ukulele groups to classical piano, from Taylor Swift to Piaf.  I keep coming back to how important I think the twice yearly recitals are for students to hear each other and to know they can play well and share their music with family and friends people. I was amazed at how my beginners came and played for the first time.  Well done!  It is also about having a goal to work towards.  Without a goal, it is easy to never prefect a piece or pieces and then have the satisfaction of playing them well even if you simply do that for the family audience!

Thank you so much to Chelsea Daniel who came and performed. Chelsea has been interning for me for the past few weeks and giving my students amazing insights into the music they are playing and reminding me of fundamentals I sometimes let fade into the back of my mind. She reminds me especially about how to practice and maybe she will write something about this for my students! She is available for teaching lessons in July while I am away.  If you are around in July and feel like you would like to take advantage of her expertise this is an opportunity not to be missed.  She will be charging $25 a half hour lesson and this is a short bio:

Chelsea discovered piano at age four upon playing a piano on a trip to Jamaica. Afterwards her father taught her how to play, and a lot of her learning was self taught. She attended Durham School of the Arts from middle school to ninth grade, during part of which time she took lessons from Dr Collingridge to take exams and prepare for her auditions for the UNCSA. She was accepted into the University of North Carolina School of the Arts where she attended until her twelfth year of high school. Chelsea studied there with Dmitri Shteinberg and is now currently at the University of Texas Austin studying with Andrew Brownell. Chelsea was selected to play in multiple master classes at UNCSA with notable artists and competed state-wide when she was young.

and here are Chelsea’s contact details:

Chelsea Daniel 

107 West Trinity Ave

Durham NC 27701


Lessons are now on a reduced summer schedule which you can see under Summer Schedule.

This does not mean everyone listed is coming every week – I have a weekly calendar which tells me that and I will send reminders. Some parents and students owe June fees and given that I am leaving relatively soon it would be great if everyone settled up for June this week. Thanks so much to those who have already done this.

I am renaming the Spring Schedule as the tentative Fall schedule until everyone let’s me know what changes need to be made.

Looking forward to a great summer with students and then with my daughter and grandson in London in July!

Spring Soiree Sunday June 4: 3-5 pm

Spring Soirée and Summer Schedule:

It is getting very close to the Soirée, Sunday June 4.  it will be from 3-5 pm in the Auditorium at Croasdaile Village.  I will send directions closer to the time. I hope all students who are not playing will still come and support their colleagues.

This is the tentative program.  Can you all check and make sure about name spelling?  I will work on the item name and details, but make sure this is your selection.  Also tell me if I have left anyone out.  There are a couple of new students that might also perform. Have I included anyone who is not playing?  Some students have clashing dance and theater commitments, so i hope to include them in the December Soirée.

For new students, this is a very informal and relaxed event.  I will sit with the younger students.  Of course some nervousness is inevitable but there are ways to prepare yourself.  First you practice your item every day from now till the Soirée.  Play it for your friends and family, the dog, the cat, the neighbors, so you are used to playing it for other people.  Secondly, on the day of the performance make sure you warm up well and play/sing your piece through in the morning. Thirdly, you need to think about what you are saying to yourself as you are about to perform for people.  Do you privately expect to make a mistake or stop or be unable to play all the piece?  You have to turn this around to thoughts about how hard you have practiced, how well you know this piece, that you are a very good player/singer and you are going to enjoy sharing your gift with other people. Fourthly, once you start playing you need to focus on your music, no thoughts about what you are going to have for dinner or how good it will be when this is over.  It is called being in the present moment.  Try practicing being in the present moment when you play for other people (or animals!).

Soirée Program Spring 2017

First Half:

Ukulele Group (Sadie, Ramona, Lucas, Leo, Ava):  Era Una Vez, and Everybody

Leo and Ava Pieraccini: House of Gold

Leo, Ava and Mia Pieraccini: Take this hammer (with piano)

Sadie Whitney: Lava

Ramona Trefzger: My Bonnie lies over the Ocean, (Latin Time)

Lucas Bartosik: Bad Day

Emma Trefzger, and Kaitlyn Busch: City of Stars

Emma Trefzger: I’m beginning to see the Light

Kaitlyn Busch: Best Day

Second Half:

Johnny Campione: The Grand old Duke of York

William Painter: Firefly

Logan Fontaine: Mixed up Song

Louisa Levy: Prairie Song and Clouds

Paulo Martin: The Juggler, Haunted Mouse

Henry Lilly: I’m beginning to see the Light, duet

Tendo Mukelabai: Tchaikovsky’s theme

Mia Pieraccini: Sakura

Andrew Hartman: Amazing Grace

Jovany Alton-Kelly: Energico

Carina Feierman: Snowfall

Jesse Gavilan: Legend of Madrid

Kathleen Wilkinson: Bouree

Maddy Werner: Pachelbel’s canon

Quinn Barbaza: Summertime

(possible Chelsea Daniel?  Chloe Daniel?)

Michelle Nowlin: La Vie en Rose, L’hymne a L’Amour

Richard Palmer: If I loved you, Oh what a beautiful Morning

Summer lessons:

I am working on a summer schedule and would appreciate if those people who would like to continue in summer would let me know their dates and best times. Some have already done this.

I will be teaching a summer program from June 12-June 23, and then from August 7 to September 1.  Fall Semester will start Tuesday September 5, the day after labor day.

I can be fairly flexible in Summer but it will be helpful to know times so I can gets lots done on my compositions.

May Mutterings

Lovely May is here and it is definitely time to choose what you are going to entertain us with at the Soiree on June 4.  I would like students to tell me this week what their choice is likely to be. I would like to remind everyone especially new parents why I do these twice a year Soirees.  I do not like the model of competition for young students.  Once you get to high school, if you want to compete, go for it, but to me everyone is a winner and an achiever if they play an instrument and sing.  Awesome to do both at the same time!  I love doing the soirees at Croasdaile Village.  the retirees there love to come and see the students perform and the mix of ages is so important for a community where all are valued.  The performances are sent on video to residents who cannot leave their rooms. Sharing the music we make is so important – I am one who likes to play just for myself but I know people like to hear me play – I played some jazz over the phone Saturday as my birthday gift to a trombone player.

Choose pieces with which you are very familiar, unless you are confident you can work up a piece in six weeks. 

Today fees for May are due.  Some people have paid some May weeks, some people have 5 days in May and some four, and there’s memorial day at the end of May on a Monday.  I am going to teach that day because it is so close to the soiree and the end of the Spring semester. If you are not coming on Memorial day please let me know and adjust fees accordingly. You can also come at an earlier time. For new people, (and some less new!), the way my emails work is under Previous: you will find last week’s work and goals.  Under Today: you will find the forward goals and work to do and also messages to students and parents.  Under Schedule: you will find a summary of days in the semester and your payments.  This is where you can tell what you will owe for May and subsequent months. Over my almost ten years doing this I have not kept perfect records but I am pretty strict about recording payments.  If I have made a mistake always let me know. It is fine to pay me in cash, but most people pay by check.  I realize this is old-fashioned but I do not want to take credit cards and interrupt lessons.  I like to make sure everyone gets the full 1/2 hour.

The Spring semester ends June 9. It does not end when the Soiree is finished.  I need to see students for one more week at least to set work to go on with over summer.

Summer semester will be for two weeks in June before I go to London, and 4 weeks in August before the short Fall semester begins. Everyone is welcome to continue during summer and I can be flexible about lessons times.  I would like to set up summer lessons before June 9 if you know your movements.  I can also teach a little later to accommodate those going to camps. I will put a summer schedule up on my blog.  I would like to remind everyone that these newsletter are always up on my blog if you need to check something.

Summer weeks: June 12-23; August 7 – September 1

Fall semester: September 5 – December 15

Be safe and well and enjoy our warmth.  I am trying to keep ahead of the weeds!

Lorna Collingridge