Friday, December 10, 2010

Congratulations to Declan!

Congratulations go out to Declan who just completed the Primer Level of his Music Tree piano method book.

He has worked diligently and is now reading music.  You will see him perform in the January Recital, where you can congratulate him on a job well done!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Your Child's Place in Education Today (and the Arts)

It scares me to see so many of my students stressed out with what they have going on at school.  I'm delighted though to see, that by 20 minutes into their lesson, they have stopped fidgeting, and they are engrossed in doing something so complicated, so creative, and so beautiful.  I know that piano lessons aren't for everyone.  I just hope that everyone is able to find something like that for themselves (adults included!) to keep the unbalanced hounding of gadgets/media/expectations/pressure to succeed at bay.

I'd like to share a creative lecture on this very subject.  Enjoy!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Saturdays at Sherwood - November

Hello all!  With the weather getting colder, it is time to bring your weekend entertainment indoors!  This Saturday at Sherwood, there will be a jazz concert as part of the standard Saturdays at Sherwood (formerly Sundays at Sherwood) faculty concerts.  Below is the program - if you're at Sherwood already on Saturdays, why not stop by for a concert and snacks?

Program for November 20th, 2010

"Nardis" by Miles Davis
"Quiet Morning" by Seth Canavan-Hitsky
"I Thought About You" by Jimmy Van Heusen, Johnny Mercer (lyrics)
"Well, You Needn't" by Thelonious Monk
"Day Dream" by Billy Strayhorn, Duke Ellington, John La Touche (lyrics)
"Blue Monk" by Thelonious Monk
"Hey, That's No Way to Say Goodbye" by Leonard Cohen
"Innocent When You Dream" by Tom Waits
"How Deep Is The Ocean?" by Irving Berlin
"Dindi" by Antonio Carlos Jobim, Aloysio de Oliveria (Portuguese lyrics), Ray Gilbert (English lyrics)
"Song For My Father" by Horace Silver
"Come Sunday" by Duke Ellington
"Maple Leaf Rag" by Scott Joplin
"If it's Magic" by Stevie Wonder

Seth Aaron Canavan-Hitsky is an Early Childhood faculty member of Sherwood, The Community Music School at Columbia College.  A life-long musician, Seth was born and raised in Metropolitan Detroit.  He studied voice with Cantor Louis Klein, Eric Bruner, and Melody Racine, and piano with Maryan F. Abramsohn and Sumito "Ariyo" Ariyoshi.  Seth has performed and recorded in Detroit, Chicago, and New York City with Maschina, The Daniel Givens Age Ensemble (also featuring Josh Abrams, Glenda Baker, Nicole Mitchell, and Jeff Parker) and the 58 Group (directed by Ginger Farley and Cameron Pfiffner).  In addition to his duo with Hashim Uqdah, Seth currently performs with and composes for Más Trueno, a world music band that played live on the air on WBEZ's Eight Forty-Eight program in 2009.  Seth was recently admitted to VanderCook College of Music's Master of Music Education and Teacher Certification Program.

Hashim Na'im Uqdah is a musician, turntablist, and music producer from Chicago.  Hashim began playing drums at age 2.  Studying at the feet of his father, drummer Carl Ameen Uqdah, Hashim learned trap set, congas, djembe, and talking drum.  At age 13 Hashim taught himself how to DJ. He now records in studio turntable sessions and free-lances as a music producer for various groups as well as performing with Alpha and Princes of Futa (drums and percussion), Seth Canvan-Hitsky duo (drums), and Mood Music Collective (turntables, production).

Friday, October 15, 2010

If you're in the market for a piano

Has your child been studying piano for some time now?  Have you noticed the difference between an electronic keyboard and a piano?  You've probably heard me talk about it, and it may be in the back of your mind, but it is probably time now to go ahead and buy a piano.

For some, waffling on this is due to the issue of space (piano or dining room table?) and for some it is financing (can you really justify spending thousands of dollars on a piano for a five year old?).   At Keys 4/4 Kids, all the pianos are donated and are sold at very reasonable rates.  It is worth checking out (though they can't help you figure out where to put it).

See me to borrow a book on piano shopping, in case you feel uncertain or overwhelmed!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Studio Star Scholarship Results

The studio stars of the 2010-2011 school year have been decided and I am proud to announce that Max Bebawy and Declan Flaherty are this year's winners.

Max Bebawy has proven to be a committed piano student by making great strides this past year in terms of technique and maturity and in maintaining that advancement on his own over the summer vacation.  To recognize this achievement, Max is being awarded 5% off of tuition for the rest of the school year as well as the privilege of being able to select his placement in both of this year's student recitals.

Declan Flaherty, this year's second place winner,  has diligently proven himself to be a dedicated and enthusiastic student by making continued progress through the Suzuki repertoire and taking on any challenges given to him.  He also impressively maintained his level of proficiency over the summer months.  To recognize this achievement, Declan is being awarded one free piano lesson in which he can choose anything he wants to learn at the piano.

Congratulations Max and Declan!

All students are eligible for one of these exciting prizes, which are awarded yearly.  If you see one of these students in the hallway or in my studio, congratulate them, because they have done an excellent job!

If the first prize is awarded to a student at Sherwood Community Music School, 5% off of tuition for the year is not in my power to grant, so in lieu of that, one free piano lesson in addition to the privilege of being able to select placement in the student recitals would be awarded.

In the market for a piano?

Those of you who are in the market for a piano might appreciate a look at this piano, which you might have been in the market for if you had lived at the turn of the 19th century, when piano technology was really taking flight. 

There was no standard for pianos at that time and composers, like the rock stars of today, were given pianos by the producers/inventors much like manufacturers do today to get celebrity endorsements.  Some of the details are astounding!  And check out all those pedals!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Primed to Succeed

An article was published this week in Science Daily previewing the results of the Northwestern University study that your children may have participated in.

It is clear from many of the article's claims that those of us fortunate enough to have received music instruction from a young age will then go on to be more fortunate in life through the skills we amassed during that instruction. Some of the claims this study makes are:
  • Musical children will have a better vocabulary and stronger reading ability
  • Music training primes the brain to better choose relevant information when faced with the need for quick selection
  • Musicians are better at incorporating sound patterns for new languages into words
  • Musicians are primed to understand speech better in a noisy environment
  • Children with learning disorders may be helped significantly by developing their musical skills
For a link to the full article, click here. Now go celebrate what you have opted to do for yourself and your child and go practice the piano!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Summer Listening

The Summer Listening CDs are made - make sure you get yours in lesson this week! If your child has been studying with me for a year or more, this summer he will have a CD of piano music to listen to a couple of times a week. If your child is a Suzuki student, he may take a day or two off of listening to the Suzuki repertoire to listen to this instead!

The Playlist is as follows:
  1. Bach - Prelude and Fugue in Bflat from Book 1 of the Well-Tempered Clavier (Richter)
  2. Chopin - Nocturne in Eflat Op. 9, No. 2 (Ohlsson)
  3. Beethoven - Bagatelle Op. 119, No. 3 (Brendel)
  4. Beethoven - Bagatelle Op. 119, No. 4 (Brendel)
  5. It Had to be You - Hank Jones
  6. Chopin - Etude Op. 10, No. 2 (Pollini)
  7. Schumann - Dreaming from Scenes from Childhood (Horowitz)
  8. Schumann - Hobby Horse from Scenes from Childhood (Horowitz)
  9. Beethoven - Sonata Op. 13, Movement 2 "Pathetique" (Faith-Slaker)
  10. Ligeti - Fanfares from Etudes Book 1 (Aimard)
  11. Chopin - Etude Op. 10, No. 1 (Pollini)
  12. Bach - Aria and Ten Variations (Tureck)
  13. See See Rider - Erwin Helfer
  14. Schubert - Impromptu Op. 90 No. 4 (O'Conor)
If your child is of Intermediate Level (Suzuki Book 2 and above), we will discuss the music in the fall with regards to time period and style.


Thursday, July 8, 2010

Teacher and Parent Training Opportunities

One of the things I love about the Suzuki Method is that the training is ongoing and available to all teachers. The initial course, called "Every Child Can" is required for all Suzuki teachers and recommended to all Suzuki Parents.

Pepsi has a Refresh Project that offers fifty thousand dollars to a good idea to help America. With one thousand $50 scholarships, Pepsi just might help spread this idea of nurturing and natural education in the arts.

Below is a link to vote for this idea. You may vote for it every day until July 31st. We currently rank as good idea number 72!

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Studio Recital, June 28, 2010 - VIDEO

Well, I think this recent recital was the most fun yet! Everyone was prepared, everyone played beautifully, and there were more cookies than anyone knew what to do with! Below are the YouTube videos from the event.

For Fiamma, Megan, Autumn, Fiona, Anne Marie, Erica, and Sean:

For Declan F., Natalie, Pauline, Declan H., Amber, Eddie, Jimena and Sarah:

For Mary, August, Criss and Evan:

For Katie, Sophia, and the Katie/Jimena/Erica/Mary Ensemble:

For some of Milhaud's impressions of Brazil:

I can't wait to see what everyone can do at the next recital! Congratulations!

Saturday, June 5, 2010


Listening, taking cues, knowing a piece inside and out, and trying not to laugh in group class today!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

When I Was Taking Suzuki Piano Lessons

My mother was a Suzuki mom. I was the first of her children, so she probably had the most patience with me (as well as the most tolerance for the Suzuki repertoire). She took us to summer Suzuki camps. She had us practice every day. When I went through a phase in junior high of not practicing, she kept taking me to lessons.

The next time you see her at one of my student recitals, ask her how she did it.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

One Step at a Time

Baby Steps. We have heard it so many times - when you are overwhelmed, take baby steps. When you can’t see the end of the work you’re tasked with, take baby steps. If you feel you aren’t succeeding, notice the baby steps!

When I woke up this morning I thought, “This is what I want to do: an hour and a half of yoga, go running when the thunderstorms clear, cook a delicious vegetarian dinner for a friend for tonight, memorize three French pieces for a performance on Sunday, practice the piano for an hour besides that, walk my dog, write and mail postcards to friends I haven’t seen in a while, teach inspiringly for five hours sending each student home excited about what he/she is working on, write a blog posting, check out what my friends are doing on Facebook, oh - and shower and get dressed!” And this is AFTER I had pared down my real goals to ones that are clearly more practical.

By tonight though, when I’m having a glass of wine and enjoying whatever dish I came up with to make with a good pianist friend of mine, I’ll be able to tell her that I did 15 minutes of yoga, put off running until tomorrow, practiced those three French pieces, ran through the rest of my repertoire, walked the dog to the mailbox reminding myself that one of these days I want to write to my friends, taught for five hours with hopefully at least one moment of inspiration in each lesson, and yes, checked in on Facebook.

I will not be disappointed.

I’m thinking about this today because of a lesson I taught last night. A student of mine has reached the age where baby steps are well, just too babyish! We can easily tell a six-year-old how proud we are of her for being able to play two notes legato. It is sometimes hard as an older child or adult though to hear that someone is proud of you for learning a three chord sequence when the entire rest of the piece sits in front of you - daunting in its size, composed of how many baby steps?! But it worked out for us - this week.

After eighteen minutes of practicing together - my student got the three-chord passage. Hurrah! And you know what? As it turns out, that is
all that was left for him to learn of that piece. We celebrated by playing the whole piece together. Looking back on that last baby step, that had such huge results, was satisfying.
Take some time this week to look back on what you and your child have accomplished together. It is amazing! It is worth celebrating! And then focus on the next step - and keep it small!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Suzuki-Trained Brains

There are so many wonderful things that your children are getting from studying music and I am not always as articulate about it as I’d like to be, but I LOVE watching these abilities develop in your children. Here is an article that talks about some of that in a much clearer way. Read it, pass it on, and watch and enjoy your childrens’ successes!

Playing Along with the Mozart Effect, L.A. Times, 2010

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Piano Lessons in Art

Above is a work titled “Piano Lesson” that is currently being displayed at the Art Institute in the Matisse exhibit, which is free with general admission into the museum.

On Thursday, April 15th at 6pm, there is a concert being held there in conjunction with the exhibit of French music in synch with the spirit of Matisse’s works featuring pieces by Poulenc, Ibert and Defaye.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Speaking of Music.....

Check out this video of Bobby McFarin demonstrating the power of the pentatonic scale at the World Science Festival in 2009.

Isn’t music FUN?!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Music and Language

SAN DIEGO - Words and music, such natural partners that it seems obvious they go together. Now science is confirming that those abilities are linked in the brain, a finding that might even lead to better stroke treatments.

Studies have found overlap in the brain's processing of language and instrumental music, and new research suggests that intensive musical therapy may help improve speech in stroke patients, researchers said Saturday at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.


What do you think music study is doing for your child??