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About Commonplace Beauty: My Debut Classical CD 

My debut classical CD, Commonplace Beauty, is now available for purchase through my website! It has been a work of love for the better part of this year, and I want to give you a glimpse of the thinking behind the album. 

FEELS LIKE COMING HOME 

In many ways this album is about coming home. I chose the name, Commonplace Beauty, from something that Charles Ives, an American composer, wrote about his Concord Sonata, and the Alcotts movement in particular. The sonata is a four-movement piece, where each…

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Your Story, Guest Post for Piano Dao 

My parents never let me quit taking piano lessons. That, really, is the crux of my story. I did not grow up under a Tiger Mom, but from the very beginning, I grew up being surrounded by classical music. My dad and his three siblings all played piano, and my mom was my first piano teacher (That lasted about a year, until she decided I was better off being taught by her friend, and her friends’ kids were better off being taught by my Mom.) I would go to bed down the hall, hearing my dad practicing Chopin and…

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Does it Matter Who Plays the Music? 

Here is wonderful article about a pianist's interpretation:  The Way is Not the Only Way

I remember being asked in college to identify a pianist simply by listening to a recording and thinking, how in the world can I identify a specific pianist? Doesn't all classical piano sound the same? Little did I know that each person brings a piece of themselves into each performance, regardless of how "common" his choice of repertoire. 

When a listener takes the time to listen to the same piece of music played by…

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Becoming an Artist, Part 6: Memorizing Hard Stuff 

Memory has always been the hardest part of piano playing for me. I can sight read much of the repertoire comfortably (I'm not speaking about Faure or Ravel, haha!) but memorizing has always been a challenge. Case in point, I have been working on Ginastera's Suite de Danzas Criollas for about a year now and had memorized it in its entirety for a performance last spring...except for the third movement, for which I shamelessly used the score. But since I am including this suite of dances on my new CD project…

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Becoming an Artist, Part 5: Channeling Yuja 

I am continually amazed at Yuja Wang and her flawless live performances. How she can perform piece after piece on different pianos, without having a lapse in concentration, a memory slip, a slight miss on a jump, is incomprehensible to me. 

I have been working on Rachmaninoff’s Prelude in G-sharp Minor for months now. It has been fully memorized for quite a while, and I have worked out technical challenges, dealt with memory slips in different places, and grown in expressing my interpretation and style. I…

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Becoming an Artist, Part 4: Working with Pawel Checinski 

I had the most amazing piano lesson this month with Pawel Checinski, the teacher of one of my pianist friends. We met formally for an hour, and as often happens with a master teacher, I was given enough material to work on for the next few months! 

I had not had a piano lesson since my years as an undergrad, so I was a little hesitant going in. My inner critic is enough of a challenge as it is, and a lesson felt quite intimidating at first. However, I was met with the most encouraging and constructive…

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Becoming an Artist, Part 3: Developing True Artistry 


Listening to myself play on a recording is quite eye-opening. Stepping back from behind the keys and hearing myself play gives me a new perspective, unclouded by what I “think” I sound like! From this position I am far more attuned to nuance and shape and color, or the lack thereof. I listen to recordings by amazing (famous) pianists like Arthur Rubenstein, Sergei Rachmaninoff, Vladimir Horowitz, Murray Perahia, Yuja Wang, and hear incredible sensitivity and attention to detail, beautiful tone colors and…

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Becoming an Artist, Part 2: Creating a Life in Music 

In my life, I have been fortunate to ride on the backs of mentors who had incredible vision and admirable work ethic. Because of them, rarely have I felt the need to create my own musical path or seek opportunities to perform. Where I’ve lacked vision and direction at times, opportunities have come knocking…to music-direct my first mainstage theater production in the 90s; to take part in several world premieres; to perform in the world-class Benaroya Hall… 

I met my husband in 2004 playing volleyball with…

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Becoming an Artist, Part 1: Pursuing a Life of Music 

During my time as an undergrad my days were full of music-making: accompanying operas and musical theater productions and choirs and voice students, working on my piano performance degree, preparing for recitals, and imagining life after graduation filled to the brim with music, specifically in the field of opera accompanying. 

After graduation my career path twisted and turned through years of piano teaching, choral accompanying, musical theater directing, administrative work at a church, public school…

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What Can I Play? 

I just read a great article about having pieces "at the ready" to play. It spells out my experience as a classical pianist so well - the tendency to consider time at the piano as work; constantly working to get music up to performance level before performing it and moving on in favor something new. When I am continually learning new pieces, it is easy to feel as if I have nothing to play. Mastery happens just before performance and then gives way to the challenge of learning new music. Yet Andrew Eales…Read more

New Year, New Project 

There is a longing in me, deep down, to write. I want to share ideas, encourage, inspire, console, comfort, love...through my words. I aim to do this with my piano playing, too, and I think that at times the music is far more effective than any word I might speak with my mouth.

I want to do better at both this year - playing and speaking my words. So once again, after a long respite, I return to this blog, hoping something I write might "speak" to you.

Since it is a New Year, full of promise and possibility…Read more

Bach on the Brain: Inside the (Wandering) Mind of a Pianist 

Have you ever wondered what goes on inside the mind of a performer during a concert? When I am in the audience, I am usually so engrossed in the music that I don't think about that until afterward. However, when I am the one performing, it is hard to shut out the self-conscious voice and concentrate solely on the music!

Last Sunday I had the opportunity to play the first movement of Bach's Italian Concerto as part of Master Chorus Eastside's Masterworks concert. The conductor, Dr. Linda Gingrich, had…Read more

My First House Concert  

It's been awhile since I have posted anything to this blog.  My apologies!  The last year has been incredibly busy with a move to a new house and the addition of our third child.  We are finally settling in to life as a family of five, and even get to sleep through the night sometimes!  In the midst of all the life changes, I found a little time to practice and dream, and Indie Musikhaus was born.

As it stands today, Indie Musikhaus is a series of once-a-quarter private concerts held in my living room.  The…Read more

In Progress 

I think I've settled on the music I want to study this year!  The list is heavily romantic, which I love, but mostly filled with new-to-me pieces.  I started work on the Bach Toccata in C Minor in college, but never finished, and have decided to pick it up again.  Chopin's Fantasie-Impromptu No. 4 in c# minor, op. 66 has always been a favorite of mine to listen to, as I grew up listening to my dad play it (and the slow section is featured in Parent Trap II, a movie I watched many times as a kid!).  Brahms…Read more

Amy Beach "Romance" for Violin and Piano 

In looking for some new music to work on this year, I stumbled across this piece on youtube.  I have always loved Amy Beach, having become acquainted with her songs for singers in college.  This Romance for Violin and Piano is just divine.  Enjoy!


Christmas CD Sale 

"O Come, O Come, Emmanuel" is now on sale at CD Baby! Your first CD is $10 and all other copies are only $8 apiece! I hope you enjoy this compilation of some of my favorite Christmas music recorded at Icicle Creek Music Center a few years ago.  Click the button below to order!
 

Balancing Act 

I came across another pianist's blog today:Susan Tomes.  She has a great post illustrating the challenge of balancing "involvement" and "detachment" during a performance.  I laughed at the end because I can so relate!  I remember my piano teacher in college once told me that I needed to play with passion but not "lose control."  There is a point where one must restrain one's passion during a performance or the playing will become sloppy.  However, a performance lacking passion quickly becomes boring, so one…Read more

Inspiration: The President's Piano Series at UW 

I just booked two tickets to see Murray Perahia at the University of Washington's Meany Hall in October!  I am so excited to see this piano "great" after having listened to his recordings for many years.  My dad, fellow pianist and classical music enthusiast, will be joining me.  Unfortunately for us, we will be sitting near the back; however, the recital hall has an intimate feel and will be featuring a close-up look at all the pianists in the series via a screen mounted above the stage!  A couple other…Read more

The Complete Collaborator 

Martin Katz, pianist-accompanist-collaborator extraordinaire, has a new book out!  And thanks to Amazon.com, it arrived in my mailbox last week!  I am thrilled to be the new owner of The Complete Collaborator: The Pianist as Partner and am trying to savour it bit by bit rather than devour it in a single sitting as I am apt to do.  The book has a companion website where you can download and stream the musical examples.  Ingenious!  It's like taking an at-home accompanying course (or should I say…Read more

To School or Not to School? 

Though probably not grammatically correct, that is the question I am pondering right now.  Is graduate school in my future? 

I have my bachelor's of music degree in piano performance and have always been intrigued by the prospect of graduate school.  I have researched schools from time to time, applied to a couple, and was even accepted to one and offered a graduate assistantship, but for various reasons I never actually took the plunge.  Now, after over 10 years of freelancing and, more recently,…Read more

The Collaborative Piano Blog 

I didn't know there was such a thing until tonight: a collaborative piano blog!  I found some good resources to print out, among them:

How to Get Work as a Freelance Collaborative Pianist
10+1 Ways to Advertise Your Services as a Collaborative Pianist
Recital Fee Question
9 Places to Connect Online With Other Pianists
Piano Quartet Lists and Resources
Christopher Foley's Resume (pianist, creator of the above-mentioned blog)

And...The Musician's Resume Handbook from Eastman School of Music! 

I am so excited to…Read more

A New Look! 

In reassessing my musical priorities and where I want to be in the next 10 years, I've decided it's time for a change.  So to start with, my website has a new look!  I hope you like it!  Also, I have decided to focus this blog more on my musical meanderings than on my personal life.  I love sharing stories about what I am reading and thinking, and describing adventures with my family, but as I move forward I need this place to be more of a musical refuge.  A place for musical reflection, where I explore new…Read more