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Fall News from Cori Belle 

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

Making Things 

Hello! The last two months have been busy on the "creative front" for me. Although not exclusively in music, I have been busy making things! Last month my dad and I worked on our annual Advent devotional booklet. He writes the content and I do the graphic design and layout. This is a Christmas gift to our church congregation, and gives people a way to…

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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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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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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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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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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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Recording Trials 

I’ve been sitting down at the piano quite a bit lately trying to find good mic configurations for recording my piano in my living room (actually, we call it "The Piano Room.” I have a Zoom H4n recorder that I have used successfully to record our live house concerts. It is a wonderful device that I can listen to in “real time” with headphones, adjusting the recording volume as I play. It is a whole different ballgame, however, trying to use it for a studio piano recording. To round out the sound, I am…

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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