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Showing posts from July, 2011

Who Is Harry Nilsson (And Why Is Everybody Talkin' About Him)?

Watched this documentary knowing full well the turn of events: immense talent descends into self-destructive behavior -- booze, drugs -- and dies young. "Who Is Harry Nilsson?" isn't an amazing film portrait but it does provide an entry point to the musical offerings of said raconteur.  Nilsson was probably most well-known as The Beatles' favorite artist in the late 1960's. After the Fab Four had issued many public remarks upping Nilsson's work, Nilsson struck up enduring friendships with Ringo Starr and John Lennon. During different periods, each served as Nilsson's "wingman" when Nilsson would set out on his regular, wild binges. One is struck by what an angelic voice Nilsson possessed yet squandered due to misbehavior. His last wife remembers him with a smile and a laugh, which is lovely to see. What a long-suffering woman!  Another takeaway for me from this film is Nilsson's likeness to a more recent depressive singer-songwriter who flamed…

Just purchased: Pedal Extender

The Piano Pedal Extender I ordered last week arrived in the mail on Monday and I placed it straight into use with a couple of my younger students on Tuesday. The pedal extender attaches easily to the piano, "extending" the piano's two vital pedals upward, thus allowing more height-challenged pianists to begin work on their pedaling technique despite their feet not yet reaching the floor.  I've been meaning to purchase one of these for awhile and finally made it happen. The extender will be a fixture in my home Castro Valley studio. I purchased the extender for a very reasonable price from CPS Imports. Great service, great product. Jesse

Marc-Andre Hamelin: No Limits - The World of the Piano, Vol. 2

Marc-Andre Hamelin is an outstanding Canadian-American concert pianist. This documentary film presents Hamelin as he prepares for a solo concert, checking in with him several times in the months and weeks leading up to the performance. His insights into the music he's practicing - selections by Haydn and Debussy, among others - are always revealing. We witness him sight-reading the Haydn work for the first time. Many would mistake his playing for a finished performance, but it becomes clear immediately that Hamelin maintains exceedingly high standards for his work. Also included on the DVD are the concert and an hour long sit-down interview in which Hamelin is probed by a staid French journalist. Hard to get through that interview, but the rest of the package is golden.

MTAC Convention 2011 - Day 3

I am attending the annual Music Teachers Association of CA (MTAC) convention at the Marriott hotel in downtown Oakland this weekend. Here's a summary of the events I attended today: "Practicing Performing" lecture by Fred Karpoff: - Mr. Karpoff's whirlwind presentation this morning focused on wisdom he's gained from two prominent performance coaches: Don Greene, Ph.D. and Robert Caldwell. I say that the presentation was "whirlwind" because Karpoff was allotted a mere 45-minutes to deliver a bushel full of material. He was speaking so fast at times that I thought steam would begin surging from his ears. Unfortunate that he was forced to rush, because he had much vital material to share. Upon reflection, the most striking thing he said this morning was that we spend too much time practicing the wrong things. We should seek to stimulate performance scenarios more frequently in order to become more comfortable with the tense sensations inherent in that endeavor…

MTAC Convention 2011 - Day 2

I am attending the annual Music Teachers Association of CA (MTAC) convention at the Marriott hotel in downtown Oakland this weekend. The city of Oakland is a great tease. It seduces you with its grand history, cultural diversity, and urban attitude. But just as soon as you let your guard down it buffets you with some harsh reality. For many Oakland residents I'm sure the first blow is a personal encounter with crime. I can attest to this sensation from my years living in Oakland: when my car was stolen, I experienced a loss of innocence coupled with a feeling of violation. I love Oakland, but now that I'm almost two years removed from living there I understand better why it's best for me to reside elsewhere. On my lunch break today I was saddened at the number of homeless people sleeping on the ground in Ogawa Plaza at midday. Adding to my melancholy was the amount of rubbish on the ground in the plaza. Trash was everywhere and it was not a pretty sight. My Jamba Juice smoot…

MTAC Convention 2011 - Day 1

I am attending the annual Music Teachers Association of CA (MTAC) convention at the Marriott hotel in downtown Oakland this weekend. I couldn't rouse myself from sleep for any of the early presentations this morning. June was a challenging month for me, and now it's July 1st; this convention snuck up on me. I'm going to do my best to glean insights from the weekend's events, despite my fatigue. Here's a summary of the events I attended this afternoon: Meeting the authors of the "Just The Facts" Theory books: - Any parent or student of mine knows that I swear by the "Just The Facts" music theory books. Almost all of my students work from this series of books. They are absolutely the best I have found. A couple months ago I was placing a phone order with them and the woman helping me, Regina, mentioned that they'd have a booth at the MTAC Convention this year. I promised I would come by and meet her then. 
I doubt she remembers me from our phone co…

July 2011 Teaching Schedule

-- My teaching schedule during the month of July will be fragmented. Please read the following:
Monday students:  We'll have 2 lessons in July. We won't be meeting on the July 4th holiday. I'll see you on the 11th and the 18th. We will not meet on the 25th because I will be out of town. Tuesday students:  We'll have 3 lessons in July. I will see you on the 5th, 12th, and 19th. We will not meet on the 26th because I will be out of town. Thursday students:  We'll have 2 lessons in July. We will not meet on the 7th because I will be out of town. I will see you on the 14th and the 21st. We will not meet on the 28th because I will be out of town. Sunday students:  We will have 2 lessons in July. We will not meet on the 3rd, 10th, or 31st. I will see you on the 17th and the 31st.
Please contact me if you have any questions! Sorting out the above schedule has required a lot of brain power; I hope I have all the details right.
-- July is my first month teaching Tuesdays at my ho…