Festival of Trees

We’ve been invited to perform at the Festival of Trees at Gallagher Bluedorn Performing Arts Center! What a fantastic way for us to share our Christmas music with the community and benefit Sartori Memorial Hospital.

You can go straight from our workshop at the Hearst Center to GBPAC! Please invite friends and family to come out and support our students at the festival.

Saturday, November 18th 1:15-2pm | Performance Workshop

Saturday, November 18th 2:30-3pm | Festival of Trees

Super Student Badges

Please read the list below with your child and start thinking about which ones you might choose. We will brainstorm together in your lessons. You can click on the links below to see examples. All my super students are encouraged to complete at least two projects during the school year. Each project you complete will earn you a Super Student Badge!

Performance

  • Learn and perform a duet with another student or family member. Capture it on video.
  • Perfect and memorize a challenging piece. Create a YouTube video of your performance.
  • Teach an easy piano piece to one of your family members or friends. Make a video of them playing.
  • Perform a piece or a duet in a public event (school talent show, birthday party, church, nursing home). Bring a program or make a recording of your performance.
  • Perfect a favorite piece and make a music video.

Creativity

  • Improvise your own piece at home on the piano.*
  • Make your own arrangement of a piece you like. Write it down and learn to play it well.*
  • Draw a cartoon character in color and compose two motives to represent that character.                                       (a motive is a small musical idea, a measure or two)
  • Create a special introduction and ending to one of your favorite pieces.*
  • Add your own words/lyrics to an instrumental piece.
  • Compose a “Theme and Variations” using one of your favorite melodies. (at least two variations)*
  • Write your own song (music with words/lyrics) on the piano and make a music video of you singing and playing it. You can have fun and add special effects/costumes, etc.
  • Create a slideshow with pictures and record music that you composed, arranged, improvised, or perfected to use as the background. I will help you record your music.
  • Write your own piece (for piano) and be the star in your own music video performing it. You can use costumes, props, etc.

Musicianship Skills

  • Learn one song that you know by ear. Be able to play it accurately and fluently.
  • Transpose a piece you know (from your books) in two different ways.
  • Learn a song that you can sing and accompany yourself at the same time.*
  • Learn and demonstrate a 12 bar blues song.*
  • Perfect and memorize one new challenging piece.*
  • Perfect two method book pieces (at least 16 measures long)
  • Write out the chord progression of a song and then improvise on that chord progression.*

*Make a video to preserve your work. I can help you record.

Students Explore the MET Music Wing

Our studio field trips focused on historical keyboard instruments and their progression into the modern piano. On Saturday, June 14, we visited the Metropolitan Museum of Art to view the forerunners of the piano and toured the Steinway Factory on Saturday, June 21st to see how the modern piano is made.

 

Highlights from the MET Music Wing

Our MET tour guide told us the story of the beautiful sea nymph, Galatea, and the Cyclops from Greek Mythology. This myth inspired the design of the Italian harpsichord we saw. Cyclops was terrible and fearsome, but he wanted Galatea to love him so he tamed his manners and learned to play the bagpipes. You see him sitting on the left. In the end Galatea (right) rejected him for Acis. The spurned Cyclops saw them together and in his jealousy crushed him with a rock. Galatea cried for Acis and his body transformed into a river that mixed with the sea.

 

This Flemish Double Virginal creates sound by plucking strings. There are two keyboards. This instrument was perfect for playing duets. The inscription across the front reads SCIENCIA NON HABET INIMICUM NISI IGNORANTEM. It translates to “Knowledge (science) has no enemy but the ignorant”.  ARS USU IVVANDA painted below the right keyboard says that “Art is improved by practice”. Timeless advice for music students!

 

The real reason we came was to see the oldest playable piano, made by its inventor, Bartolomeo Christofori.

The real reason I wanted to bring the students to the MET was to see the oldest surviving and yet functioning piano. It was made by Bartolomeo Christofori, the inventor of the piano. What made this instrument special was its ability to play loudly and softly based on the power of the keystroke. All the keyboard instruments up to that point in history could only play one volume more or less. Christofori called his creation gravicembalo col piano e forte” (harpsichord that plays loud and soft). Later it was shortened to “piano”. I was really happy that we could listen to a recording of someone playing this remarkable instrument.

Our visit to the Steinway factory this year was fascinating as always. There are many brands of pianos we might have studied, but Steinway & Sons offers the best and latest evolution of the piano. Although their pianos are made with traditional, time-tested methods, their commitment to producing the best quality instruments drives them to continually evaluate and improve their craft.

 

Students Create Outstanding Original Music | Competition Winners

The Spring Fever Composition Competition was a huge success. Every student in my studio composed at least one piece for the contest. For two or three, this was their very first experience writing music. It was a challenge, but it was worth it.

All the pieces we created were compiled into this music book. The cover art was designed by Sebastian and Sarah. They did a lovely job. Everyone received a copy to take home so they can enjoy playing each others’ music. There are so many intriguing pieces to try: “Shark Attack“, “Falling Snow“, “The Spooky Forest“, “Magical Mistery and more!

 

Congratulations to all the students on their excellent work!

 

Four winners were selected by the judge based on the following criteria: form, pitch, rhythm, playability and expressiveness. The prize for winning was creating a music video of their piece and an iTunes gift card. Click on their titles to listen to them play!

 

Spring Fever Composition Competition Winners

Sarah, (5-6 year olds) “Spring Is Love”                                      David, (7-9 year olds) “The Endless Road”

Avery, (10-13 year olds) “The Desert Path”                              Matthew, (Senior Division) “The Calm Before the Storm”

Spring Piano Recital 2014

Several new students made their musical debut at our Spring Piano Recitals on Saturday, May 24th. As always, our venue was historic Steinway Hall, just across the street from Carnegie Hall. Their instruments are simply the best. I never worry about our performance piano having a problem key, a clunky sustain pedal, poor sound or being out of tune. A huge thanks goes out to Regina Davidoff of Steinway & Sons for hosting both our morning and afternoon recitals. If you liked how wonderful your child sounded playing the Steinway and want to learn more about getting one for your home, I’d love to help you make that happen.

Another highlight of the day was the food at the receptions. I would like to thank Sung Kim for contributing her delicious homemade brownies and Mr. & Mrs. Dedovic for supplying the rest of the food in the morning: bagels, cookies, fruit salad and more. In the afternoon we enjoyed fresh fruit, banana bread, blueberry muffins, hummus and pita chips.

Thank you Mr. & Mrs. Dedovic for      the delicious refreshments at the       morning recital.

The children chose their music many months in advance, some as early as the end of January. They know it takes a lot of focused practice to master their pieces and to develop a musical interpretation. I have wonderful and diligent students. Everyone’s hard work paid off at the concert to the delight of family and friends. We heard an original song composed by one of the students “Me and Tessy”, Katie Perry’s “Roar”, selections from The Sound of Music and The Lion King, a fiery duet by Anton Diabelli and many other favorites.

Students, you and your awesome music make me smile!

 

 

Spring Fever Composition Competition

One of my Level One students created a beautiful piece of music about nature. She wrote the notes out on staff paper herself. She had dynamics, lyrics, repetition. She used the damper pedal. It was so creative. Sometimes my students amaze me. This was one of those moments. Then I wondered just what my other students might create if we tried composing music. Wouldn’t it be fun to have a friendly competition?

Students are invited to compose music for the Spring Fever Composition Competition!

All the compositions we make will be put into a music book. Everyone in my studio will get a copy so we can enjoy each other’s work. I will also contribute some pieces to the book. One composition will be selected from each age group (5-6, 7-9, 10-13, 14+) based on quality of sounds, ease of playing, balance, repetition, form and creativity. The winners of the competition will receive a $10 Itunes card and be featured on this website playing their compositions.

Rules:

1) It must be your original work. Copying other people’s music is not allowed.

2) You can enter up to 3 pieces of music.

3) You can create lyrics (or words) but they are not required.

4) Your music should be about nature. That could be anything from dinosaurs to the ocean, moon, trees, rocks, insects, germs. Let your imaginations fire up!

5) It must be turned in by March 31st, 2014.

Christmas Piano Recital 2013

Last Saturday as snow filled the air, the sound of dearly-loved carols filled Steinway Hall as my students played at their annual Christmas Recital. The ever popular “Jingle Bells” and “Carol of the Bells” were on the program, as well as less familiar melodies like “The Holly and the Ivy” and “Sing We Now of Christmas”. Each child chose music that spoke to him or her personally. One student played his original composition entitled “Hope”. Even though it wasn’t a Christmas carol, I think it was a great choice because Christmas celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ, the One who offers hope to broken people living in a broken world.

 

Each child chose music that spoke to him or her personally.

So much time and effort went into their pieces. Some students began preparing as early as the second week of September. In addition to learning the notes and rhythms, working out the physical coordination and musical interpretation, students also prepared by participating in our Performance Workshop. As any student will tell you, playing for fifty people is much more difficult than playing at home. The workshop gave students a chance to play for one another, helping them gain confidence and develop good stage presence.

The morning of our concert started with a warm-up for the musicians including stretches and exercises, a pep-talk and a turn at the piano. Playing an unfamiliar piano can be unnerving. Each one has its own voice and its keys respond differently too. A warm-up is essential for a musical performance.

I am proud of my students for their hard work, their passion for playing, and for their courage.

There were many wonderful musical moments last Saturday. I am proud of my students for their hard work, their passion for playing, and for their courage. A piano recital can be compared with Olympic figure skating. Both involve physical technical feats, artistry, the self-imposed pressure of having one chance to do your best and the stress of being in the spotlight. The students displayed great courage. They were rewarded with praise and applause and a table full of delicious snacks.

A special thank you goes out to Mr. & Mrs. Dedovic for providing the refreshments for our recital.

 

 

 

 

Field Trips to Carnegie Hall

Last year my students and I went to the Steinway Factory in Astoria. It was a fascinating tour. You can read more about that trip here. This year, students attended concerts at Carnegie Hall and were inspired by live music.

On Sunday, March 24, advanced students attended the New York Youth Symphony concert.  They heard the world premier of Paul Dooley’s composition “Run for the Sun”. The music was so energetic and lively. Students were really impressed with Louis Schwizgebel’s performance of Ravel’s “Piano Concerto for the Left Hand”. It was written for a pianist who lost his right arm fighting in World War I.  You can learn more about this amazing ensemble of young musicians on their website: www.nyys.org

Younger students listened to the sounds and improvisations of Polygraph Lounge on Sunday, April 21. Mark Stewart and Rob Schwimmer coaxed music out of a long steel pole with a saxophone mouth piece and a conch shell. They also introduced kids to a fabulous instrument called a “theremin”. One student was so impressed because Mr. Schwimmer played it without even touching it. Catchy songs like “Could That Be Music?” and “The Siren Song” stuck with us long after we went home.

Saturday, March 2, the Declassified showed us how much cooking and music have in common. You can beat eggs and there are beats in music. Cakes have layers and so do musical compositions. Cooks add spice to their dishes and musicians spice up their music with tango dance rhythms. We listened to a trumpet solo from Prokofiev’s “Love for Three Oranges” and heard how Beethoven made a clarinet and a bassoon blend in his “Allegro Sostenuto” from Duo No. 3 in B-flat Major. They finished their performance with Martinu’s, “La Revue de Cuisine” in which pots and brooms, lids and dish towels become the main characters of a musical love story.

 

Performance Workshop: Helping Students Play Their Best

Last Saturday, my students and I traveled to Steinway Hall for our Fall Performance Workshop and played on a beautifully maintained 6′ 11″ Steinway Model B piano. The students were happy to see each other and to meet new friends. It warms my heart when I hear the children say that they can’t wait to see all their piano friends again. Aside from the camaraderie, Performance Workshop is a valuable experience for young pianists.

Having the chance to play a real piano is                                                         a dream come true.

 

Benefits of Attending Performance Workshop

  • gaining experience playing an acoustic piano
  • playing through their nerves for a small group of peers
  • practicing critical listening and observational skills
  • giving and receiving feedback
  • refreshing their performance etiquette
  • viewing their own recorded performance
  • setting goals

 

Playing for a small group of peers helps prepare students for a larger audience.

At the workshop each pianist practiced exactly what they will do at the concert: stand tall, take a bow, play their music and finish with another bow. For a few children, Saturday was the very first time they ever played for someone outside of their family. Playing for a small group of peers helps prepare students for a larger audience at our recital.

Students evaluated one another in the areas of technique, stage presence and artistry. In their lessons next week we will watch their videos and read their peers’ comments (and mine too).

My New Piano | Steinway & Sons Designed Essex

I just love my brand-new Steinway & Sons Designed Essex 111E Upright.  I tried all of the Essex pianos in the showroom at Steinway Hall, but I kept coming back to this one. The tone and the way it feels sold me. It’s so beautiful too with its lustrous mahogany finish and modern design. Not only does it look great in my new studio, but it sounds even better.

Some have asked me, “How can I get a piano like yours too? How much will it cost me?”

That’s an easy one to answer. Just let me know and we can go to Steinway Hall to pick out your new instrument.  My piano costs $5,790. For many, myself included, paying it all upfront is not an attractive option. You may be interested to learn that Steinway has a rent-to-own program and after six months of renting, you can either return the piano, pay the remainder of the cost and own it, or pending a credit application you can continue to make payments until it’s yours. They also offer a true rental program. You can choose from their “bank of rental pianos” and rent from month to month and return the piano when you feel like it. Normally the rental price is 1.5% of the purchase price per month, but if you let me know, I can get you a 1% rental rate through my contact at Steinway, Regina Davidoff.

It is a little known fact but Steinway makes three lines of excellent pianos: Steinway & Sons, Boston and Essex. The Steinway upright piano goes for about $23,000. They spare no expense and take as much time as needed to condition the wood. It takes them one year to make it and they use the best materials in the world. Steinways are handmade by master craftsmen. The Boston upright still has quality materials and the design is very like that of the Steinway, but part of the production has been automated. That allows them to bring down the price to $10,000. The Essex upright is about $5,500. They are produced in a factory in China, under the supervision of a Steinway and Sons specialist. The materials are good, there is no plastic anywhere in the Essex piano, however the parts cost much less than what is used in the Steinways and it takes less time to make them with machines.

I got really excited when I heard about the Steinway Promise. If you purchase a new Steinway designed piano, and decide to trade it in for a new Steinway designed piano of greater value, you will receive an allowance equal to the full purchase price of your piano.

So, if you know you want a Steinway someday, you can start with an Essex.