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March-April News from Cori Belle 

This content is from Cori's March-April 2021 Newsletter. If you would like to receive her newsletters in your inbox, click to subscribe here.

Reflecting Light

My dad is a rockhound and silversmith. As his daughter, I have been the happy beneficiary of many of his gifts of handmade earrings, necklaces, and rings. Although he cuts and shapes stones, he does not facet them, which is the process of cutting many sides of a gemstone into a reflective shape, like the diamond in your wedding ring or the gems you…

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January News from Cori Belle 

This content is from Cori's January 2021 Newsletter. If you would like to receive her newsletters in your inbox, click to subscribe here.

Happy New Year! 

I hope this finds you busy with new projects and some fun things to look forward to in 2021! Although circumstances may not have changed much since turning the calendar page, I find it is always good to have some element of "newness" or celebration that our family can enjoy. For me personally, I have been revisiting music scores and trying to decide what…

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Creative Programming 

As musicians, we wear many hats: performer, student, teacher, collaborator, music director, producer…Perhaps you also wear some of these: blogger, promoter, accountant, website developer, recording artist. Maybe you have been fortunate enough to be the Artistic Director at some point, the one responsible for programming the music at an event? 

I say fortunate because so many times artists perform out of obligation to record labels, producers, and teachers who determine the content of their programs. I think…

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September News from Cori Belle 

This content is from Cori's September 2020 Newsletter. If you would like to receive Cori's monthly newsletters in your inbox, please subscribe here.

A Bit of Light

I am enjoying the return of the sun after a week or so of cloudy, smoky skies, especially as we are soon to head into the drizzly, dreary days of fall in the Northwest (but not too soon, I hope!). These are trying times, and yet rather than commenting on current events I thought I would share some lighter news on the creative front! 

Recently I…

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August News from Cori Belle 

This content is from Cori's August 2020 Newsletter. If you would like to receive Cori's monthly newsletters in your inbox, please subscribe here.

Lemonade from Lemons 

A big THANK YOU to all who joined us for the premiere of "God Bless America," our first ever Indie Musikhaus virtual concert! We had over 50 people join us for the premiere, and the YouTube video has been viewed over 300 times. Imagine trying to fit you all into my living room...! What strange times we live in, and how grateful I am for…

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July News from Cori Belle 

This content is from Cori's July 2020 Newsletter. If you would like to receive Cori's monthly newsletters in your inbox, please subscribe here.

God Bless America 

Next Sunday, July 19th, at 3:00 pm, is our "God Bless America" virtual concert! Seiko and I have been having so much fun putting this together. The spirituals are such a wonderful reminder of hope in dark times - we think they will be an encouragement to you. I hope you are looking forward to joining us. More information will be coming this week…

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June News from Cori Belle 

This content is from Cori's June 2020 Newsletter. If you would like to receive Cori's monthly newsletters in your inbox, please subscribe here.

Forward Motion

Happy Summer! The weight of virtual homeschooling has been lifted (for now) and we have been loving the sunshine, as well as some recovered freedom of movement as our county entered Phase 2: salons opened, in-person gymnastics classes re-started, and we have been meeting friends at the beach and enjoying backyard barbecues. As well, new projects are…

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May News from Cori Belle 

This content is from Cori's May 2020 Newsletter. If you would like to receive Cori's monthly newsletters in your inbox, please subscribe here.

A Moment in Time

What strange times we are living in! This “pause” has been, for some, a time for reflection and new projects. For me, it has been more of a shift in how I spend my time. Music has taken a backseat to the more pressing duties of motherhood, which for the past two months have included homeschooling, counseling and entertaining children, and general…

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February News from Cori Belle 

This content is from Cori's February 2020 Newsletter. If you would like to receive Cori's monthly newsletters in your inbox, please subscribe here.

O Love 

On the heels of Valentine's Day, I am preparing for a set of two "love" concerts with Kirkland Choral Society. On Saturday and Sunday, February 22-23, we will give performances of songs celebrating love and community (accompanied by wine and chocolate at each intermission!). Although the main spirit of the program is love for our fellow man, the song…

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Getting Motivated in the New Year 

Happy New Year! 

I had a wonderful Christmas break with my family, filled with too many sweets, lots of late nights and sleeping in, movies, and games. It was so nice to take a break from our normal routines of school, homework, after-school activities, and…well, responsibilities! But 2020 is here and though my calendar is not looking like a “fresh slate” by any means, a new year always holds promise for new opportunities. 

To get myself motivated (I’ve felt awfully lazy lately, especially with these dark…

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Time-savers for Choral Accompanists 

It’s the beginning of the season and you are handed a packet of music to learn by next week’s rehearsal. It’s like the first day of school. You feel all the emotions – excitement at new “school supplies,” anticipation of seeing choral friends after a long summer break, and readiness for new challenges. But with an hour’s worth (or more) of new music, where do you start? 

1. Prep the music. You likely were given a mix of piano-vocal scores, perhaps some zeroxed music (hopefully…

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Yes, Chef 

Words matter. To one with an artistic temperament, words matter intensely. In the last year, two phrases were directed toward my playing that shook me: “…not up to our standard” and “I didn’t even think of you.” After a good cry in both cases, I tried not to dwell on what had been said and instead tried to evaluate it in light of what was true; to not hold resentment; to redirect my focus on bettering my playing. As a Christian I am to “take every thought captive and make it obedient to Christ” and to dwell…

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What is an Introvert like Me Doing, Performing on Stage? 

Here is an example of how God uses the foolish and weak things. My happy place is when I am alone, the space is quiet, and I am buried in a book or studying music without interruption. I can go many hours like this, content to be isolated from people. This works well for a classical pianist whose art demands a great deal of focus and reflection, not to mention the repetitive nature of practice. It does not bode as well for the performer. And here is the irony. That to be a performer of classical music, one…

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Becoming an Artist, Part 8: Tools for Success 

It’s really wonderful how a good teacher can give you just the right tools to enable you to play better. Recently I was fortunate to be able to work once again with Pawel Checinski , who was visiting from Chicago. I played for him a little and then we got to work. He primarily focused on helping me come up with a decisive interpretation, achieve a singing tone, and use arm weight to produce a lovely sound. 

I had been struggling with the memory of the Bach Toccata in C Minor, BWV 911, often getting lost in…

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Becoming an Artist, Part 7: Working with Pawel Again 

It’s funny how you can hear that something is off as a pianist and not know exactly what is wrong with it or how to fix it until a teacher explains it. When I sit at the keyboard I often don’t ask the same kinds of questions of myself that I would if I were a teacher. It doesn’t come as naturally to me, perhaps because the work on notes and rhythms and memory and the physicality of what’s going on is consuming enough that to think beyond that is not automatic. However, as a teacher, you are physically…

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Memorizing Bach...Again 

Today I finished re-memorizing Bach’s Toccata in C Minor, BWV 911. I say re-memorizing, because I memorized it 6 years ago for a house concert. And then I moved on to learn and memorize other music and I forgot the piece. Well, I didn’t forget it entirely. My fingers remembered what to do when I pulled out the score, and it came more easily to me physically than it had when I first learned it. But remembering the piece away from the score took a grand amount of effort. And I asked myself, “Why am I putting…

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Back to Bach 

I am reworking a Bach Toccata I learned a few years back in preparation for my concert with Molly Tomlinson for the October 11th Ladies Musical Club concert. "Toccata" literally means "touched" and refers to the virtuosic nature of the music's fingerwork. Originally conceived for early keyboard instruments such as clavichord, harpsichord, and organ, the toccata is not necessarily a "piano" piece. However, I believe that if Bach were to live in our time, he would use the piano to its fullest extent, most…

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Intention 

I am still in search of that elusive “it” that sets the professional pianist apart from the amateur. This is something I’ve been mulling over for the better part of the last year. I am more and more convinced that it has much to do with intention. 

The amateur performer relies to some degree on chance. She knows that preparation is important and spends many hours practicing, but there is always an element of unknowing – Will my hands make that leap accurately? Will I express at the keyboard exactly what is…

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Balancing Music and Motherhood 

This is the first year my children are all in school full-time and the year I have felt the most need to justify my not working outside the home. The question often comes up, “What do you do with your time?” The question is well-meaning, as it is an American norm to meet someone for the first time and ask, “So what do you do for a living?” The assumption that a mother has nothing to do when her children go off to school in the morning is laughable to me, but understandable in our culture where we often…

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Flawless Recording 

It takes courage to record. 

Recording is a completely different animal from live performing. It is under far greater scrutiny than a live performance. An audience tends to give grace in a live performance for small mistakes, missed jumps, a blurred pedal…perhaps because they get wrapped up in the shared emotional experience; listeners seem to share a sort of sympathy with the artist. In a recording, that grace is considerably lessened: the listening audience expects perfect execution down to the slightest…

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IMOGEN COOPER, PART 2: The Re-creative Process 

After I attended her informative masterclass, I found an intriguing video of pianist Imogen Cooper giving a lecture on 'The Hidden Power of the Re-creative Process in Music' at the University of Oxford, May 2013. 

I love how she starts out this lecture. Not only is her British accent quite captivating, but the profundity of her topic grabs my attention immediately. Early on she quotes Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy: “Music cannot be expressed in words. Not because it is vague, but because it is more precise…

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IMOGEN COOPER, PART 1: Beethoven Masterclass 

Recently I attended a wonderful masterclass at the University of Washington given by British pianist Imogen Cooper. Two graduate students played Beethoven sonatas on a Steinway concert grand in a nice performance hall. I took notes as Ms. Cooper spoke with the musicians afterwards: 

She started out by asking what other Beethoven sonatas the pianists had studied and then, “Have you taken [this sonata] up and dropped it?” Meaning, after you first learned the piece, did you walk away for a period of time…

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How I Recorded a Solo Classical Piano CD in My Living Room 

I recently released my debut classical piano CD, Commonplace Beauty, which was recorded in my living room! It all started about 13 years ago with the seed of an idea from a friend of mine who suggested doing a trilogy. 

At the time we recorded a Christmas CD (O Come, O Come Emmanuel), and the plan was to follow it up with a worship CD and a classical CD. I had participated on recordings before, but had never done a full-length solo album, so I was excited to be a part of this project. We recorded O Come, O…

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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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