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FINALLY: an update to the website

So exciting to begin the Fall of 2013 with new possibilities…my daughter’s help to re-vamp and update this website!  Lots of interesting ideas are shaking around about using the internet to create teaching tools for improv, etc.  I will keep you posted!  MORE SOON!!!   Welcome back students!!!

A New Year….and new students, new classes…

The beginning of a new year always causes reflection on things that are changing.  I have a new schedule playing for classes at Duke University Dance, and I have several new piano students.  I am also playing for the next 8 consecutive Tuesday mornings at Duke Hospital Lobby as part of the Hand Project:Health Arts Network at Duke.  It is such an exciting program:  providing a bit of music respite for folks waiting in the lobby or passing through the lobby at Duke hospital (as well as playing for patients in rooms also.)

I am excited to welcome some new and returning piano students to my studio and openly welcome new students, young and old!

A word about WHEN to begin piano lessons as a child. (Remembering that as an adult, it is NEVER too late to begin.  I had one woman begin in her 70’s and we had a blast!)    Many parents have inquired about this.  It is a tricky question.  I began study at age 4, which is quite young, because I was going to the piano and picking out tunes from the radio.  There really is not a definitive answer to this question.  It really depends on the child! One on one instruction in music (or anything for that matter) has been shown to increase intelligence in young children.  Having an adult (not your parent) spend half an hour of undivided time helping a child to learn a new skill is a very important piece in developing the brain and the child.  That being said:  not every child has interest.  Be careful!  Perhaps it is YOU (and not your child!) who wants piano lessons!  There is a “burn out” factor that  can happen when you begin study at such a young age.  Progress is indeed slow, and when a child reaches 7 or 8 years, friends who just begin taking lessons at this more “normal” age, suddenly, within a few months, are playing on the same level as a child who has taken for 3 years.  This can be disconcerting to the child!  Also, attention span is much shorter, so the lesson itself becomes the most important part of the learning curve.  (I actually believe this is true at ANY age!)  You cannot ask a 4 year old to spend a half hour a day practicing.  However, a talented child WILL spend half an hour at the piano if he is taught correctly, and inspired to improvise, make up his own tunes and just have fun.  That is my goal as a teacher of young children.

It’s December!

A time for music!  I will be playing at Duke Hospital on Dec 22nd and 29th as part of the HAND program.   And then, I simply must have my house warming caroling party…TBA!

Looking forward to the performance at Carolina Friends School with the Upper School Dance company, Dec 11th and 12th at 8 pm.  Don’t miss this incredible evening of talent and the special piece created by myself and CFS students Joe MacPhail and Kelsey Shaffer to choreography by the amazing Annie Dwyer.  Musically, the piece is a deconstruction of the Sting song:  Fields of Gold and has been an awesome experience to create.

The best news is that I finally hooked up my stereo that has been in storage for three years!  Yay!  Great old speakers and a reliable old yamaha amp!  I love analog!  Listening to Stevie Wonder’s Greatest Hits at a very high volume!

What John Cage and Merce Cunningham knew….

What an amazing thing it is when you discover what Merce Cunningham, choreographer, and John Cage, composer, knew all along! It is possible to collaborate and not worry about your timings.

What am I talking about? Well, when Annie and I began working on this project at Carolina Friends School, as the piece began to take shape, we realized it had various “sections.” But the length of the those sections was not really set. At our last rehearsal, we finally did a “rough” run through of the piece. The dancers had not heard the music yet. They had only heard a bit of the first section. When we ran the piece, we were amazed at how the music swelled in all the “right” places…just as the dancers took on new energy. And then, something even more amazing happened…

In the section that was metered, we had “composed” about 48 measures of 6/8 time. When Annie reported to me that she needed about 66 measures, I was thrilled. This meant that we only had to double time the 8 measure section where we were using the chords of the song “Fields of Gold” to get 16 additional measures. (We would keep the original timing in a repeat.) This would bring us to 64 measures! Now how close is that!

We will see what happens on Thursday when we rehearse again! But it is truly amazing to realize that a dance …or a piece of music…has a certain life of its own. And when it is a time for a change, artistically, it is time for a change! I LOVE this!

A Great Rehearsal!

Kelsey, Joe and I had a great rehearsal this afternoon at Carolina Friends School. We are working on the music we are creating for a piece for the Upper School Dance Concert (COMING DEC 11 and 12!) based on "Gratitude," choreographed by the awesome Annie Dwyer, dance teacher, with elements from the dancers.

Musically, it is a de-construction of the Sting song "Fields of Gold." This means that the piece ENDS with that song, but the whole 10 minutes or so leading up to it is based on fragments of that song, or rather elements of it. It is not recognizable until you actually hear the song at the end!

We finally got the rough draft together today. We are using piano, Orff xylophone, Joes’ Spiffy electric keyboard, a violin bow, and some light percussion, along with some singing and whispering by the dancers (with a featured solo by Leah at the end!) It is truly awesome to work with these talented students and to have so much fun! And it is GREAT to be back at CFS!!!

Thanking my webdesigner

Just want to take this opportunity to express my gratitude to my incredible web designer, Suzanna Dupee, who has incredible patience, overwhelming artistic talent, and who has created a fun site for her dear mother, bringing her into the 21st century! She is wonderful to work with! I strongly recommend her if you are looking for help! She is fast and thorough and has wonderful ideas! Thanks Zanna…sometimes known as Z bow. www.suzannadesign.com

Welcome to My Blog!

Hi everyone! Welcome to the blog aspect of my new website. I look forward to sharing more with you about my current projects, musings, and other such things. This is a community space, so please comment if you have something to share!

Thanks to everyone for your amazing support!