Archive for the 'Just For Fun' Category

May 25th 2014 Memorial Day

Music can impact just about anything. This weekend is Memorial Day here in the United States. We are supposed to be taking time to remember those who have given their lives in war. As I was trying to come up with a post, I remember hearing an article about Paul Wittgenstein.
Paul Wittgenstein was born into a well-to-do family that embraced the arts in Vienna, Austria. Before WWI, the family household was visited by the likes of Brahms, Mahler, and Strauss. While Paul was on active duty in WWI, he was shot and subsequently had his right arm amputated. He then began calling on well-known composers to write literature for the left hand. Perhaps the best known piece to come of this was Ravel’s Concerto for the Left Hand. With many of the works, they were commissions with the stipulation that Wittgenstein held exclusive performing rights until his death. Wittgenstein eventually emigrated to the United States during WWI and continued a performing and teaching career.
Do a little research on pianists who made careers and only had use of one hand. It’s a fascinating read.

No Comments » Posted by heather / Just For Fun

May 7th 2014 A Little Inspriation

As the year wears on sometimes we just need a little boost of inspiration. Creativity comes in many forms. Last weekend I attended the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival. To meet so many people that are passionate about their craft was wonderful. The amount of new ideas was also inspiring. Sometimes I feel that as musicians we get so rooted in tradition that we forget to look outside the box. So this week take a look around. Whether you are taking piano lessons, playing the piano for enjoyment, singing in a choir, or just trying to make it to the end of the school year, try to find something new and fresh.
Here is a picture of one of my purchases. It is a supported spindle that is hand turned by a friend.

20140507-093403.jpg

No Comments » Posted by heather / Charlotte NC Piano Lessons and Just For Fun

Apr 30th 2013 My Baby…Grand That Is…Was Sick

Nothing like a sick piano to make a piano teacher break out into a sweat.  Last Monday one of my students was playing a Chopin Nocturne.  Since this student can a time be little gung ho with the arm weight, I recommended trying the Una Corda.  It was a good effort, but didn’t produce the desired results so we moved on to other ideas.  The next thing I knew the piano was sounding a bit odd and the student said that the und corda pedal was not working correctly.  Oh boy.  Sure enough it was stuck in the ‘on’ position. 

Tuesday morning I called my wonderful tech to set an appointment.  The soonest he could come out was next Tuesday.  That was a week of odd sounding lessons.  I thought it was interesting that some students noticed the strange sound and others didn’t.  I many have to explore that issue.  So the tech finally made it out today.  Turns out that it really was a case of being stuck.  A little Teflon power later and we were back in business.  The tuning was in pretty good shape so other than some minor adjustments it was a quick fix.

Come back later this week to find out which group of my students has had the best long term success based on what time of year they started lessons.  The answer might surprise you 

No Comments » Posted by heather / Charlotte NC Piano Lessons and Charlotte Piano Students and Just For Fun and Piano Practice

Mar 20th 2013 Cleaning House in the Studio

I’ve been spring cleaning my studio bookshelves.  Last fall, I did a huge purge of material that I just wasn’t using and probably wasn’t going to use.  Yesterday was round 2.  More methods, vocal books, and outdated neuroscience books hit the library or trashcan.  It feels really good.  My main tactic for deciding on whether to keep something or pitch it is, do I want to move it again?  We aren’t planning on moving in the near future, but some of this stuff has been moved at least 5 times.  As I get more comfortable with my teaching style and as it evolves, some things are just no longer necessary.  Musicians are notorious packrats.  I challenge you to clear 5 items out of your studio today. 

No Comments » Posted by heather / Just For Fun

Jan 30th 2013 What Songs Take You Back

We all know that music has the power to transport and transform us.  Where do certain songs take you?  Here are a few of my favorites and what they bring back.

1.  Truly, Madly, Deeply by Savage Garden takes me back to my Sophomore year in high school and getting to drive myself to church and school as I had just gotten my license.

2.  Whiskey Girl by Toby Keith takes me back to the summer of 2006.  My husband and I were waiting to hear if he was getting a job here in Charlotte.  It was so hot that July.

3.  Stays in Mexico by Toby Keith was our road anthem for a trip out west in August of 2006. 

4.  Beam Me Up by Pink makes me remember September 2012.  Wayne was out of town for the whole month and I was getting ready for my first fiber festival.  The weather was warm and humid.

5.  And just because I probably need a classical piece on this list.  JS Bach’s Prelude in Bb minor.  This piece reminds me of October of 1999.  Leaving senior activities to go home and practice to get ready for college auditions.

These are just a few that came to me off the top of my head.  What songs take you back?

No Comments » Posted by heather / Charlotte NC Piano Lessons and Charlotte Piano Students and Just For Fun and Oboe Lessons Charlotte NC and Piano Practice and Recitals and Voice Lesson Charlotte NC

Jan 27th 2013 Visions Fugitives

Over 10 years after learning #10 of Visions Fugitives and progressively learning more, I still love this set of pieces.  There are still some that I just can’t manage very musically, but I love them all.  Prokofiev certainly knew what he was doing when he composed this set of pieces. 

Somehow I just now dragged out my copy to play these on my new piano.  It was magic.  When your favorite music sounds perfect on your dream piano, it makes all the effort worth it.

No Comments » Posted by heather / Charlotte NC Piano Lessons and Charlotte Piano Students and Just For Fun and Piano Practice and Recitals

Dec 5th 2012 Need More Christmas Music

This whole new piano thing is leading to a lot of new music.  As a teacher, I try to keep a good variety on hand for when a student needs some variation in the schedule.  As a musician, I love to have music that sounds great and I am pretty much sit down and sight read.  So yesterday it was back to the music store.

First up is Popular Christmas Hits by Dan Coates published by Alfred.

This book includes songs from Bethlehem Morning, Frosty the Snowman, and Growup Christmas List.  It is very diverse.  My favorite surprise is that it offers interesting key changes.  When was the last time you saw 6 flats in a popular book?

For full disclosure on the next selection, I am a huge Lord of the Rings fan.  I can’t wait until the Hobbit comes out next week.  So when I saw The Lord of the Rings:  The Motion Picture Trilogy by Howard Shore for Piano and Voice, I knew it was for me.

Some of these songs are familiar right off the bat and others I had to search my memory for the correct scene.  This book has interesting arrangements that are fairly close to the sound from the score.

I would recommend either one of these books to one my students of an advanced level.

No Comments » Posted by heather / Charlotte NC Piano Lessons and Charlotte Piano Students and Just For Fun and Piano Practice

Dec 3rd 2012 That Was A Great Recital

It’s been a few weeks since I managed to sit down and blog.  First there was the recital, then Thanksgiving, and a few days away with friends. 

Let’s start with the recital.  The students all did a great job.  Even the ones that I worried about all week.  Never let it be said that I don’t have faith that a kid can pull it together when it counts.  All the practice paid off. 

IMG_0591

We were missing a few student but everyone played 2 or 3 pieces so it was a very nice recital.

When I arrived at Miller Piano to make sure everything was set up a little something caught my eye.  The conversation with Steve went a little like this:

“Is that a Baldwin Artist Series Piano?”-  me

“Why yes it is.”- him

“Let me go call my husband.”- me

ring ring-  “Are you going to be upset if I buy a grand piano today?”-  me

“Go for it.”-  husband

to Steve  “I’ll take it.”-  me

IMG_0612

Say hello to my new piano.  It is a Baldwin Artist series built in 1975.  The sound is glorious.

Happy Birthday to me is all I can say.

The students are enjoying it and already commenting on how much better prepared they will be for festivals and recitals since they will have a chance to practice on a grand.  Lessons the first week with the piano were quite fun and I am having a wonderful time playing all my favorite Christmas tunes.

No Comments » Posted by heather / Charlotte NC Piano Lessons and Charlotte Piano Students and Just For Fun and NCMTA and NFMC and Piano Practice and Recitals

Nov 2nd 2012 October Competition and Prizes

This month in the studio we have been having a competition of sorts.  With the recital coming up, the students needed a little added incentive to work extra hard.  So I purchased a few small prizes and then declared that the grand prize would be a hand knit scarf of the winner’s choosing.  Pretty much saying Harry Potter scarf did the trick.    Here were the ways to earn points:

1.  Meet Your Practice Goal- 5 points

2.  Exceed your practice goal by 30 minute increments – 15 points per 30 min. interval

3.  Perfect Technique- 5 points

4.  Pass Ear-Training Test- 20 points

5.  Complete a Piece- 5 points per page

6.  Theory Completed- 5 points

7.  Theory Completed with no mistakes- 5 points per page

8.  Memorization- 2 points per measure

9.  Memorize an entire piece in 1 week- 20 points

10.  Memorize a recital piece by Nov. 1- 50 points

The students did really well in earning their points and trying to beat each other.  I can’t wait to tell them how they did at their lesson next week. 

No Comments » Posted by heather / Charlotte NC Piano Lessons and Charlotte Piano Students and Just For Fun and Piano Practice and Recitals and Theory and Voice Lesson Charlotte NC

Oct 31st 2012 Halloween Lessons

Just a food for thought post on Halloween.  Does your piano teacher offer lessons on Halloween?  Are the lessons interrupted by trick-or-treaters?  Do you wear a costume to your lesson?

Hopefully there are no scary lessons today!

Brunner Studios will have our piano, voice, or oboe lessons at the regularly schedule times today.  Students were offered the opportunity to choose a different time slot for this week if there was a conflicting event for this evening.  Hopefully everyone will stay safe and have fun this evening.

No Comments » Posted by heather / Charlotte NC Piano Lessons and Charlotte Piano Students and Just For Fun and Oboe Lessons Charlotte NC and Voice Lesson Charlotte NC

Next »