Duets-Wow I am so excited about all the duets going on this summer! The students have been working on their counting, and have been playing with the metronome to get a better sense of the beat.  We have been using some great duet books, with jazz, patriotic songs, classical duets and contest winners duets, and also have been playing some single sheet duets such as Bluebird and The Knight’s Quest.  Parents and siblings are playing duets, and I am loving it! I have downloaded a free metronome app and began showing them  how that one works since that is most likely more like what they will use at home than one like mine bought with green stamps oh so long ago.

Backyard Studio-The new piano is in the studio! However after a piano is moved, it needs several weeks to get used to the humidity of a room and then be tuned (it sounds pretty terrible right now) so my target for changing over will be mid-August.






STUDIO LOCATION CHANGE – After 35 years of teaching piano in my home, I will soon have a cute little studio in my backyard.  This makes me very excited to have my home and business separate, and when the piano teacher is happy, everyone is happy!  It should be finished by September.  My wonderful husband is doing all the work himself, and it is looking so cozy!  He has finished the little covered porch area for parents/siblings to sit while they are waiting, and is now working on the inside paneling the walls. I have already purchased a new beautiful Pearl River 48″ upright piano for the backyard studio which has a gorgeous rich sound.   Larry Harms at Houston Piano Company helped me pick out the perfect piano for my needs and they are holding it until the building is ready.  I will give more information about the backyard studio as the time to “move” comes near.

SUMMER WORK – Students of all levels will be working on duets this summer along with their regular lesson work.  Focusing on counting and playing a duet during the lesson takes some extra time so don’t be surprised if they don’t have as much material to practice as usual some weeks this summer. I promise we are working hard!  Duets are very valuable and teach so many skills-

-playing with a metronome

-review counting basics, note values, time signatures

-playing with another person

-continuing to play even when you make a mistake

-listening! to the other player

-and they are fun. Piano can be lonely. My teacher and I often played duets at the end of the lesson to try new student duet releases and we found it very enjoyable!

LEVEL 5 AND ABOVE – These students will be playing through some possible performance songs along with their regular lesson work.  They will also play a duet or two just to keep the ensemble and counting skills we have developed over the past years.

101 PIANO PRACTICING TIPS  by Tracy Capps Selle -this ebook is on Amazon and is a very helpful resource.  It is $2.99, and is  free for Amazon Prime members.   Besides practicing advice, the author lists apps and websites to supplement piano lessons. There are also apps for a metronome.





CONGRATULATIONS TO TRENT PORTERFIELD!  He won “Best Piano Solo” during a recent HISD competition with his jazz ensemble at his school. Way to go Trent!

CONGRATULATIONS TO CHLOE ALTEN!  She played at her school’s talent show, and I hear it went great!


HAPPY!  This song and several other pop songs have been very popular during the last few months at the studio. The songs from Frozen have been a big hit, as well as some of the chart toppers like A Thousand Years and Counting Stars. The students have also been working on piano standards such as Pink Panther, Fur Elise and Linus and Lucy. We are having fun, and working hard!



Students up to level 5:  During the summer  in addition to our current books we will work on duets. This gives me a chance to focus on counting, and also gives the student a chance to get the feel of playing along with another person.  It also works on the skill of not stopping while playing a song, which is helpful when performing.

Students level 5 and above:  We will begin trying possible performance songs for the fall performance.  We usually do a duet or two just to keep up the counting skills and to be comfortable playing with someone else.

All policies and lesson times remain the same during the summer.


NEW CALENDAR PAGE: The website now has a page that has the dates of the fall performance and also the days when there are no lessons.



NEW KEYBOARD-The students have been enjoying playing their songs on my new electric keyboard. There are a lot of amazing settings, including a very realistic flute sound and violin sound. Of course the favorites so far are the space choir and the electric guitar settings. It has been very useful during lessons as it allows me to hear their trickiest songs one more time, to make sure they understand the concept we went over while playing the song on the baby grand piano. But of course they don’t know that is what I am doing, they think they just get to have fun with their new song at the end of the lesson.

NEW CALENDAR PAGE-I have added a calendar page to the website so that families always have access to the vacation and performance schedules.

LESSON FEE INCREASE-In March there will be the annual increase of $1.00 per lesson.




Rehearsal SUNDAY, October 20   5:00 PM

Performance SUNDAY, November 3   5:00 PM



1600 w. 13TH St.


PARTICIPATION IN THE PERFORMANCE IS OPTIONAL, but I assume a student is participating unless I am told otherwise.

PRACTICE PRACTICE PRACTICE! All students will play 2 songs. They will choose the songs out of several choices, so they have “ownership” in their songs. The more advanced students begin choosing their songs in early August, as their music takes more weeks of practice to learn. The intermediate students and beginners wait until a little closer to the rehearsal as their music does not take so long to prepare. If a sibling or neighbor starts their performance song before your student, don’t worry, we will be picking all the songs for everyone very soon.

Once they choose their songs, the best thing you can do as a parent is encourage them to not wait until the week before the rehearsal to learn their songs. The songs they are playing are too hard to learn in a week.

Also, there are often specific goals we are working on for the week on their assignment book or posted on “sticky notes“ on their music. I will encourage all students to write how many minutes they practice each day on a chart on their assignment book, to help motivate them to work on their songs.


During the rehearsal we go in the order of the performance to get the student used to the performance format. The rehearsal also gives the student a chance to get used to the piano, as all pianos and pedals feel a bit different. At the lessons before the rehearsal, we talk about the possible pitfalls of performing (going to fast because they are nervous) and also performance etiquette (don’t bow with your music in your hands!). I do not embarrass them by talking about their rehearsal in front of other students but I make notes and talk about things they can do to improve their performance at the next lesson. Family members are welcome to stay for the rehearsal, and may leave with their student after they have played their songs, or if they decide not to stay, they can return in about an hour to pick up their performer.


This performance is called a Celebration to emphasize the positive, relaxed and casual atmosphere. The word recital makes students nervous and we want this to feel more like a happy talent show instead of a stoic formal performance. Dress is casual and I usually dress in jeans to make my students comfortable. If a student wants to dress up they certainly can.

You are welcome to invite family and friends. Please let me know if you are bringing a huge group of friends so I can set up extra chairs. We love our audience! The more the merrier! You may want to let your friends know that we let the students play through both their songs so they can keep their concentration, then clap after both songs are finished (enthusiastically, not politely!)


The performance fee is $40.00 per family and is included in the October invoice. This fee is non-refundable.


The student must bring their music to the rehearsal and performance, as we do not memorize our music for the Celebration. Loose music must be in a binder that I provide at the lesson. If the music is from a book, make sure to bring that book.


Contact me at 832-492-5168




No lessons Fri. Sept. 6, Sat. Sept. 7, Tue. Sept. 10.

No lessons Sunday Nov. 24 through Monday Dec. 2.

No lessons Sunday Dec. 22 through Monday Jan. 6.




WORKSHOPS-I have attended piano teacher workshops this summer, and they presented a lot of great ideas for teaching. Also we are trying some new songs, and new books that are full of great familiar songs like Stairway to Heaven, Wipe Out, Swan Lake, and Gangnam Style. I am always thrilled when they publish motivating songs like these, it is so helpful in getting students to practice with this familiar music.


A new feature was presented in one of the workshops, which is  Sight Reading books for levels Primer through 2B. These use the songs that are learned in the lesson book, and reviews the concepts with a similar short song that students just “read” and do not practice. This increases reading skills, counting, and reinforces the concepts learned in the lesson. These will be used at the lesson, with me pointing out tricks to sight-reading such as identifying patterns in notes or rhythms.


Rehearsal: Sunday Oct. 20, early evening
Celebration: (performance) Sunday November 3, early evening
Both will be at the recital hall at Houston Piano Company.


Participation in the performance is optional, but I will assume a student is performing unless I am told otherwise.

Some of the advanced students have started choosing their songs for the performance. What a wide variety of music is going to be played! All of the songs are beautiful and you are going to enjoy them very much. Do not worry if your student has not started their song yet-beginner/intermediate students start closer to the performance since their songs are easier to learn and they would be tired of them by the performance if they started them this early. More details about the performance will be included in the Sept. newsletter.

PIANO MUSIC-I played for St. Matthews church again the last Sunday of July. The hymn that I prepared for the prelude is on the piano music page of the website, “Open the Eyes of my Heart”.

VACATION DATES-No lessons Friday Sept. 6, Sat. Sept. 7 and Tuesday Sept. 10.



We have been trying some new songs over the last month. Sweet Home Alabama was very popular! Shinjuku Station is a fast fun song with an Asian feel, and it was very well-liked. The Lady and the Dragon also has an oriental sound, and has two distinct sections, which make it exciting to play.  Of course we continue to explore classical music. This month students were playing Beethoven, Bach, Mozart and Pachelbel. Also one of my students  worked on the advanced, long jazzy version of the Pink Panther! The students have been having a great time while gaining new skills.



Several of the students are still playing duets along with their regular songs. A few of my students enjoyed them so much they asked to play one during the performance, so be watching for those!  It is a very different experience to play while someone else is playing and an important skill to develop. I am proud of all my duet players!



On Friday July 19 the 5:00 and 5:30 lessons are cancelled.

Rehearsal: Sunday Oct. 20, early evening
Celebration: (performance) Sunday November 3, early evening
Participation in the performance is optional.
Both will be at the recital hall at Houston Piano Company. (More details in future newsletters)
Next Sunday I will begin my new position of subbing occasionally as the church pianist at St. Matthew’s Methodist Church. I am excited to share some inspiring songs with the congregation. Don’t worry though, I won’t quit my “day job”.  I have included the classical songs that I am playing for the Prelude and Postlude on the “Piano Music” page of this website.  If you would like to hear what I am going to play, check it out!




Many of the students have been working hard the last month on reviewing counting. Most students have been doing an easy short duet “sheet song” (just at the lesson-not something they had to practice) to prepare for doing duets in the summer. Several of the duets we have been using were written in an easy hand position by classical composers for students to work on counting, and even though the student’s part is easy, they sound fantastic when we play them together. They have also been using the metronome to count their duets.  Sometimes I would play their part along with them to help them get used to hearing the beat and counting their part. Even advanced students are working on a mysterious sounding duet called “Wheels of Chance” which reviews tricky 6/8 counting. They are a great group of students and play the duets so well. They are brave and will even try it with me after only playing through their part once.  I think they are quite surprised how different the tune sounds with the supporting part played along with their part.



We also continue to work on our method books and fun sheet songs-so much to do! I have found a very pretty version of the theme song to the movie Up and several of my students have enjoyed playing this. We have also been learning exciting songs like Shinjuku Station, Pastel Clouds, and Royal Fanfare. Something for every mood! Of course we continue to learn the standards such as Lean on Me, and Stand by Me, and the classical standards such as Moonlight Sonata and Pachelbel’s Canon.


No lessons July 4,5,6.

On Friday July 19 the 5:00 and 5:30 lessons are cancelled.

Rehearsal: Sunday Oct. 20, early evening
Celebration: (performance) Sunday November 3, early evening
Participation in the performance is optional.
Both will be at the recital hall at Houston Piano Company. (More details in future newsletters)



I am proud of my 21 year old son, Ben, who is once again touring this summer with Drum Core International.  He is with the Cavaliers and will be competing in Houston on July 19, with mama taking pictures of course!   He will continue working on his degree in Music Ed. at Austin Community College in the fall.  (Ben is the guy in the green hoodie).








I am also proud of my 25 year old daughter, Genevieve, who has taken a new job as a field manager for the campaign of a candidate (in an Austin district) for a state office. She is LOVING being back in Austin and also feeling like she is making a difference on women’s issues by supporting candidates who present bills on education and women’s health care and other women’s issues. In her current job she helped her Senator write and present a   few bills and was recognized by the Senator to the committee for her hard work. (In case you didn’t know, her Masters Degree was in Women’s and Gender Studies).


CONGRATULATIONS to Leah Porterfield, who graduates this May and is headed to college in the fall! She has been in the studio since she was 6 years old.  We are going to miss your beautiful songs at the Celebration, but we are proud of you and wish you luck!  I hear she is taking her favorites binder to college with her.    : )
We are gearing up for the summer! The students up to Level 5 will be playing duets in addition to our book songs and fun sheet songs. This helps us review counting and also gets a student used to playing with someone else. It also helps them learn to “keep going” which is beneficial even when playing a solo.
Students level 5 and above will be trying some possible performance songs.  This is also in addition to their current music books and fun solos.
Students all the way from beginners to advanced tried some new songs in April. They loved them! Most of the new music ended up in the favorites binders. We tried the song “Twister”(fast and furious), “Blue King Crab” (a great little blues tune for beginners),  and “The Thing That is Under My Bed” which has a very mysterious sound. The older students enjoyed playing “Stay” by Rihanna.
The parent of one of my students is a string teacher. Here is her website in case you know any one who is looking.
Sunday May 25 through Monday June 3
Thursday July 4 through Monday July 8
Rehearsal: Sunday Oct. 20, early evening
Celebration: (performance) Sunday November 3, early evening
Both will be at the recital hall at Houston Piano Company. (More details in future newsletters)


Congratulations to Aaron Schlosser! He had a science fair project that was about major and minor music,  called “Piano Man:How Do You Feel” and he won Best in Show for his school with the highest total points! He is going on to the next level this month to compete again, good luck Aaron!





Congratulations to Isaac Mackzum!

Isaac decided to work on becoming a piano performance major in college. This requires a ton of practice while in high school (at least a couple of hours per day),  and attending competitions, performing in lots of recitals, and taking state theory tests. My studio is not set up to accommodate this type of student so at my urging he auditioned for the same studio that my former student Emily is attending. He was accepted in the studio and although we will miss him I will keep you posted on his progress!


The summer is fast approaching! In addition to our current music, we will be working on duets (everyone up to Level 5) to review counting and get used to playing while someone else is playing.  All the students who are Level 5 and above will be looking at possible performance songs.  All lesson times and policies remain the same during the summer.

Vacation Dates in May

No lessons Friday May 3 and Saturday May 4.  Third try at the correct dates.
No lessons Sunday May 26-Monday June 3.