Monday, October 16, 2017

Seashells in My Pocket is launched!

 My debut solo piano CD, Seashells in My Pocket, officially released on Friday, October 13th.
 Like shells plucked from the seashore and tucked into my pocket as souvenirs from a magical day at the beach, these pieces evoke memories of some of the beautiful islands and coastal cities I have had the pleasure of visiting over the years.

Straight from the manufacturer.
I transcribed all of my compositions and put them together to create a companion sheet music book.

Seashells in My Pocket solo piano sheet music book.
And I made a pendant to tie in with the theme.

Also available with a golden shadow or a clear diamond starfish.
On Saturday night, I hosted a CD release concert/party to celebrate. 

Pam Asberry playing a selection from Seashells in My Pocket.
It was pure joy to play all the pieces from my album, share the stories behind them, and sign autographs at intermission. 

My handsome son Nathan kept things running smoothly at the merchandise table. 
 My album is available for purchase at iTunes, Amazon, and at my website, where you can also order the companion songbook and pendant.

It is also available for streaming on Spotify. Click here to follow me on Spotify and add my music to your playlists.

I can't really say this is a dream come true, because I am living a dream I never dared to imagine.
But now that I am on this journey, I hope it never ends.
Thank you for joining my on my grand adventure.

Monday, October 2, 2017

Seashells in My Pocket

I am happy to announce that my debut solo piano CD, Seashells in My Pocket, is now available for pre-order!

You can pre-order the physical CD, the digital album, and the companion sheet music book at Bandcamp (click HERE).

If iTunes or Apple Music is more your style, the digital album is available for pre-order HERE.

With any pre-order, the first track, Cozumel Blue Waters, is available for immediate download. The rest will be available for download/shipping on Friday, October 13th, the album's official release date.

CD's and sheet music books will also be available at my CD release concert the next evening. I will play selections from the album and share the stories behind the music. Here are the details.

Saturday, October 14, 2017
6:30-8:30 PM
2805 Buford Highway, Duluth, GA, 30096
Admission is FREE!

In the meantime, please "like" my new Facebook page (click HERE) and visit my new website (click HERE). The website is still under construction, but after my release date that will be the best place to find news about concerts and to purchase CD's, songbooks and other merchandise.

I couldn't be more excited! As always, thank you for your support!

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Summer's End

The future started yesterday.
~ John Legend
Grand Canyon, Arizona.
All good things must come to an end, and so did this wondrous summer.

But I sent it out with a bang. Last Wednesday morning, I boarded a Southwest jet, flew to Phoenix, rode the shuttle to my rental car, hopped in "my" Toyota Corolla, and drove to Sedona.

Bell Rock, Sedona, Arizona
As first sight of those famous red rock formations, I fell in love. I have always been drawn to the ocean and dreamed of living close to the water. But Sedona has its own special appeal. More than one person I met started out as a visitor there and ended up a permanent resident. I can see why.

A few miles down the road, I found the lovely Arabella Hotel, checked into my room, had a delicious meal at the nearby Elote Cafe, and got a good night's sleep. The next morning, I was greeted by this smiling face. 
 Tim is one of the dynamic tour guides who works for Grand Venture Tours. He took six other travelers and me on an fast-paced trip to the Grand Canyon and surrounding areas, sharing lots of history and local wisdom as we went. I actually took notes, as there are many things I want to learn more about, and it was way too much to remember.

Sunset Crater National Monument

Wapataki National Monument

Lunch and shopping at the Cameron Trading Post

The Grand Canyon. Pictures don't do it justice.
 All too soon, Tim dropped us off at our hotels. I spent one more night at the Arabella and had another delicious dinner, this one at The Hudson. Then it was time to check out and make way to my final destination, Piano Haven,

Piano Haven, Sedona, Arizona
where I spent the next two days recording and editing all the songs that will go on my soon-to-be-released solo piano album, Seashells in My Pocket

Shigeru Kawai, the king of pianos
It was a delightful experience. The piano was amazing, hands-down my all-time favorite, and Joe was kind, patient and encouraging. I can hardly wait to get that finished CD in my hands.

* * *

I arrived back home late Sunday evening, just in time for back-to-school here in Gwinnett County, Georgia, and back to full-time piano teaching for me. But I couldn't have asked more from the summer of 2017. I forged new friendships, checked a few things off my bucket list, and turned some dreams into plans. 

The way I see it now, every day is a new adventure.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Summer Adventures

Italy was everything I hoped it would be.

As I mentioned in my last post, I had the privilege of attending the InterHarmony International Music Festival in Acqui Terme.
My travel companions Yoonsook, Soojung, Qin, Dr. Thomas, and I. 
The path to our hotel. Acqui Terme, Italy.
Leftover from Roman times. Acqui Terme, Italy.
Thermal Baths. Acqui Terme, Italy.
I walked six to eight miles every single day
These feet were made for walking.
and I ate and drank whatever I wanted.
Cappuccino every morning for breakfast.
A typical meal at our hotel. Served buffet style. 
My new favorite drink, Aperol Spritz.
Gelato was a refreshing reprieve from the relentless heat.
There was no air conditioning anywhere in Acqui Terme.
Inspired by both caring faculty and fellow students, I made music every single day.
My practice room.
Dana, Sandra and me performing our chamber piece, Ibert's "Deux Interludes." So much fun!
During the course of the festival, we enjoyed two days of sightseeing in Milan and Turin;
Duomo di Milano.
La Scala Opera House, Milano.
Egyptian Museum, Torino.
View from atop the National Museum of Cinema in Turin.
then, at the conclusion of the festival, we spent two days sightseeing in Rome, 
making wishes and tossing coins into Trevi Fountain,
Trevi Fountain, Rome
touring famous places I had always dreamed of seeing,
Coliseum, Rome.
Borghese Gallery, Rome.
Vatican Museum, Rome.
St. Peter's Basilica, Rome (we saw the Sistine Chapel, too, but no photos are allowed in there!)
and eating and drinking some more.
Best pizza ever at Da Baffetto. Yes, that's an egg in the middle!
Red wine goes with everything.
I learned a lot and made many wonderful memories. 

Now I'm making music back home. I've played in two formal concerts
I played "Forest Solitude" by Zdenek Fibich. Steinway Galleries, Alpharetta, GA, July 23, 2017.
I played two of my original compositions. University of North Georgia, Gainesville, July 30, 2017.
and enjoyed an evening with friends playing the fifteen solo piano pieces I composed this spring and sharing the stories behind them.
Dave & Julia, dear friends and gracious hosts.
Tomorrow I'm headed to Sedona, Arizona where I will spend two days with Joe Bongiorno at Piano Haven recording my music. And that's just the beginning. But if all goes well, my first solo piano CD will be ready to release on October 13th. I have already booked the recital hall for the next day for a celebration concert.
I will return home late Sunday evening; on Monday, school starts and I will resume full-time teaching.

But for once, I'm not asking myself, "Where did the summer go?"

I know EXACTLY where it went.


Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Italy Bound

By the time you see this post, I will be in Italy.

That's right. ITALY! The one in EUROPE!

As I write these words, I am in the final stages of preparation for the InterHarmony International Music Festival in Acqui Terme, Italy. Click HERE for details.

For the next couple of weeks, I will be completely immersed in music - practice, lessons, chamber music coaching, concerts - and enjoying a bit of sightseeing, in Milan and Turin. Then, at the conclusion of the festival, a colleague and I will take a high speed train to Rome and see the sights there.

During my practice time and private lessons, I will focus on my festival chamber music assignment, solos/duets/duos that I plan to perform in future concerts, and getting my solo piano pieces ready to record the first weekend in August. Which reminds me: I have come up with a new title for my CD. Ocean Views wasn't bad. But Seashells in My Pocket is PERFECT! I am so excited about the way this project is shaping up.

There are moments when I can hardly believe all this is actually happening.

* * * 

A couple of thoughts:

(1) Continue to learn. What you know will never be enough.
~ Sonya Teclai

Last week, when I shared my plans with a very young student, she crossed her arms and said, "Wait a minute! I thought you were a piano TEACHER, not a piano STUDENT." I explained to her that I am BOTH, as no one can ever know everything there is to know.

(2) Never say never because limits, like fears, are often just an illusion.
~ Michael Jordan

Last year (and the year before that, and the year before THAT), when my festival teacher invited me to be a part of the summer event, I politely declined, saying there was NO WAY I could ever afford to do such a thing. Well, last August I fired my housekeeping service, put the money I had been spending into savings, and over the academic year it covered my festival tuition in full. All I had to purchase on top of that was an airline ticket (and order some euros to cover incidental expenses). Mission accomplished!

* * *

I look forward to sharing my experiences and impressions after I get back. In the meantime, I encourage you to challenge yourself to learn new things and dream your biggest dream. You have absolutely nothing to lose and so many joyous, amazing things to gain!

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Transcriptions FINISHED!

My last two solo piano pieces are finished, transcribed, and added to the collection!

 Here is a screen shot of the working titles in what might be album order.

That's fifteen songs and fifty-seven pages of sheet music! *

Of course, the music needs a lot of editing. Playing through a couple of the pieces this afternoon, I found several errors; I suspect there are many more. And, as I mentioned in my blog post last week, I need to go back and add in musical details: tempo markings, dynamics, articulations, etc. But what I have right now is enough to get me started with the hard work of polishing everything up and getting all the pieces ready to record. 

Here are a few things I have found to be true during my time as a composer:

1. Composing is alternately challenging, satisfying, frustrating, and exhilarating.
2. Hours go by like minutes when I am working on a new solo piano piece.
3. Transcribing the music from my scribbles on staff paper is time consuming and tedious.
4. Like everything, transcription gets easier with experience.
5. I am already looking forward to writing music for my next album.

But first things first! 

For now, I must set my pencil aside. In addition to a couple of handfuls of private students, I will be teaching all next week at a music camp. Then I will have just a few days to pack and make ready for my European adventure - details in my next post! After returning home, I will have just a couple of weeks - filled with teaching, performing, and preparing for the 2017-2018 academic - before I fly out to Sedona, Arizona to record my album on August 4th and 5th. 

I will come home on Sunday, August 6th; school, and full-time teaching, will resume here the very next day.

Summer vacation? What summer vacation?

It doesn't matter. For me, the gap between work and play grows narrower and narrower. 

I am having the time of my life.

The key signatures and time signatures of my pieces are as follows:
A minor - 4 pieces
E minor - 1 piece
G major - 2 pieces
D major - 2 pieces
B major - 1 piece
F major - 2 pieces
E-flat major - 1 piece
G-flat major - 2 pieces
* * * 
4/4 time - 8 pieces
3/4 time - 4 pieces
 6/8 time - 3 pieces
And now you know!

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Progress Report

The past three weeks have been a frenzied blur of piano teaching, ensemble rehearsals, and student piano recitals - THREE of them. The last one took place on June 10th; the following Monday and Tuesday, I taught my last day of regular lessons and an exhausting day of make-up lessons. By the time all that was over, I was ready for a long winter's nap. Except it isn't winter, and my to-do list is about ninety miles long.

Although I have always had low blood pressure, about six months ago it started creeping up. Stress seems to be the culprit behind that and, since stress is my constant companion, my then-primary care physician put me on blood pressure medication. A couple of weeks ago, concerned with the numbers still being a bit higher than they should be, a new doctor switched me to a different prescription. For whatever reason - additional stress? the change in medication? - by Tuesday evening, my blood pressure topped out at 186/112, and I made a return visit to the physician's office Wednesday morning. She tweaked my prescription and sent me home under orders to get some rest.

I didn't do much that afternoon, alternately sleeping and reading and knitting and, thankfully, the numbers started coming down on Thursday. The past three days I have had nothing but normal and high-normal readings and I am feeling much better. This is a very good thing. Because I have a CD to finish!

Since I last posted, I have finished five more solo piano compositions, for a total of thirteen, and have transcribed them all into MuseScore (music notation software). Three more pieces are "well begun," although I think the last one will go on my next album. 15 pieces seems like a good number for a CD, I think.

I printed out all the scores (48 pages of music so far!), hole punched them and put them in a binder, and used my rudimentary graphics skills to design a cover (of sorts - see the photo above) to slip into the clear sleeve on the front of the binder. It ALMOST looks like a real songbook! For now, I am content to have all the notes down on paper; I will go back and add details, tempo markings and dynamics and slurs and such later. My intention is to finish the last two pieces and get them transcribed and added to the collection this week. That will give me just a little more than a month to polish up all the pieces and get them ready for my recording session the first weekend of August.

And that's just the beginning. There is a LOT of work that goes into the production of a CD, still more that goes into sales and promotion, but worrying about all that remains to be done creates nothing but stress and stress wreaks havoc on my blood pressure. So instead I am trying to remain focused simply on what needs to be done NEXT. So far, so good!

Summer lessons start tomorrow but with only twelve students on my summer schedule (compared with sixty during the regular school year) I should be able to find time to make steady progress with my solo piano music - AND make preparations for a long-anticipated trip to Europe in July. But more about that later! Right now I'm headed downstairs to finish another solo piano piece!