March Notes


Skyfall, the new James Bond theme song has been a big hit
this month.  I found a great version that
can be played as written for intermediate to advanced students, but can also be played with the melody and chords in the LH for beginning students.
Rain Forest and Windflowers have been two new songs that
several of my students have tried.  The
students decided they liked both songs.
I am glad they liked them, they are beautiful but also review concepts
learned in the lesson books.


Congratulations  to Trent Porterfield, who played
piano for his jazz band in a competition this month. He said it went well and
they received great scores!

Laura Gunn
played Canon in D for her class at school. The teacher was so impressed she
wrote a complimentary note to her mother.
Laura said she forgot her music, so she played it by memory! Way to go

Merrilee Crimmins
played the dramatic Shooting the Rapids for her class at school.  She said her class was impressed!  Super job Merrilee!


No lessons Sunday March 10-Monday March 18.

No lessons Sunday May 26-Monday June 3.




February Notes


We have been trying some great new music in the studio! The theme song from the Hobbit movie was a hit in January. We also have a new version of Chariots of Fire that is awesome.  The theme song to the Legend of Zelda has been very fun also. One student even decided to get a book of songs from the video game after playing the theme song.  Several of my students have chosen a huge book of classic rock as their fun book, so we have been doing everything from Imagine to Bohemian Rhapsody.

It is also exciting to see the students playing some tried and true sheet songs, such as Spirit of the Stallion, Jazzy Gypsy,  and Allegro (the first movement of a classical piece). Several students have been playing the Spinning Song (another classical piece) and we have been learning the Entertainer, Linus and Lucy, Eye of the Tiger and Lean on Me. Some students are doing beautiful classical sheet songs by Beethoven and Kabalevsky. Such fun! We are having a great time!  We are filling up those Favorites Binders!



Congratulations to Kate Winston, who played several songs for her Sunday School class. Way to go Kate, that is so wonderful and brave to play for your friends.



In March there will be no lessons Sunday March 10-Monday, March 18. I will be teaching the first Saturday of Spring Break (March 9).

In May there will be no lessons Sunday May 26-Monday June 3



In March there will be the annual price increase of $1.00 per lesson.



December/January Notes

In December I was thrilled to be able to hear EMILY GITTINS, a former student, play a Chopin Prelude (by memory)  when she stopped by to visit and she played so beautifully! She is now a junior at HSPVA and is taking lessons from a piano teacher at that high school. She plans on majoring in piano in college, and from what I heard we will some day say we knew her when…..

I am so proud of TRENT PORTERFIELD, he has prepared 2 Christmas songs to play at his church’s Christmas Eve service.   I am always so pleased when my students assist in worship by playing piano for the congregation.


Over the break, if a student gets a chance to practice (which I realize is hard to fit in around all the vacations and guests!) they can work on music from their favorites binder. This will give them something to do that will review all of last year’s concepts so we can move forward in the new year. It also reminds them that playing piano is fun! Most of the students have the assignment to play their three favorite songs for me on their first lesson back after the break.  We will also need all of their lesson and fun books, scale sheets and theory books at the first lesson, so if they have not been bringing them make sure they pack them all for that lesson so we can get started on moving on in those books right away.

I enjoyed working with all of my students and their families in 2012 and look forward to great progress and wonderful music in 2013.  Have a blessed holiday season full of beautiful music!


I WAS SO PROUD OF THE STUDENTS AT THE CELEBRATION!  They were polished and prepared, and showed their talent and discipline by the way they played. As one of the parents said, their personalities show up in the songs they pick.  Another parent was very appreciative to the advanced students that showed the beautiful songs her younger student will soon be able to play. Thanks families for supporting the students in their hard work.  About half of the students who performed are still not bringing their books to the lesson. Please encourage them to bring all their books so we can keep moving forward!

I AM ALSO PROUD OF TRENT PORTERFIELD.  He is playing piano in his middle school’s  jazz band, and they had their first “gig” this past weekend.  How exciting!

NOW IT IS TIME FOR CHRISTMAS MUSIC!  I am amazed at how much the students learn from the Christmas books. I use books published by the same company that makes their lesson books, so it is a great supplement to their normal “teaching” songs.


No lessons Sat. Nov. 17-Monday Nov. 26.

No lessons Sat. Dec. 22-Mon. Jan. 7.

I hope my piano students and their families have a wonderful Thanksgiving.  I am looking forward to seeing my parents and brothers and their wives, and enjoying my turkey in Arizona sunshine.


The students are sounding so great on their performances songs!  I am excited for you to be able to hear them.  At the Celebration you will hear all types of music like classical, jazz, classic rock, movie themes and current hits.

In October we will play Halloween music and review the concept of minor and major. Some of the advanced students have already begun to work on Bach’s Toccata in D minor, which has been used in so many scary movies it has sort of become the theme song for Halloween.

Here are some important dates-

Rehearsal, Sunday October 21.

Celebration, Sunday November 4.

No lessons starting Nov. 17 (Saturday) through Nov. 26 (Monday).

No lessons starting Dec. 22 (Saturday) through Jan. ?  (tbd)


This past month, all levels have been trying new versions of popular music from some new publications I have purchased. Here is a list of some of the songs:

Stairway to Heaven, Don’t Stop Believin’, Lion Sleeps Tonight, Great Balls of Fire, Avengers Movie Theme Song, Looking Back (love theme from Glee), and Springsteen.

Several of my students have started in a new book called Current Hits that has songs by current popular performers like Katy Perry, Justin Bieber, Lady Gaga and Miley Cyrus.

We are trying some new classical books also.  My students who prefer this type of music are enjoying learning some beautiful songs, such as Valse poetico no. 3 by Enrique Granados, one of a set of songs that he wrote which was inspired by poetry.



Rehearsal SUNDAY, October 21

Performance SUNDAY, November 4

I have the facility booked for 4:30-7:30 and will split the studio into 2 performances to keep the performances from being too long.  The performance times will be 5:00 and 6:30. The rehearsal and performance times will be the same.  Please let me know if you need a certain time as soon as possible because I try to keep the performances from being too long. Once I establish who is in each performance, changing times usually involves a family from the other performance also being willing to change times.


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





The book of music for the “Hunger Games” movie has been the exciting news of the studio this month!  The students playing from this book have been learning how the composer sets the “mood” for each of the songs as the songs are background music to set the tone of the movies scenes, and not songs with words.  For instance, the first song, Katniss Afoot, has a medieval sound and also has a few measures where the composer changes the meter to make the song a little unnerving.  This has been a great study in the moods of music, and has been a very popular book.

There are so many benefits from playing a musical instrument, and here is an interesting article about how it reduces stress.

Lessons have been canceled on Saturday August 18th after noon, and also on Tuesday August 21.


Performance rehearsal Sunday Oct. 21 4:30-7:30

Celebration (performance) Sunday Nov. 4, 4:30-7:30

at the Houston Piano Company Recital Hall


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.

On a personal note, here I am with my son Ben, who performed with the Cavaliers in Houston in July.  He will be competing with the Cavies in the DCI Championships in Indianapolis in August.


Also my daughter Genevieve got a job using that Masters Degree in Women’s and Gender Studies. She is working for Annie’s List, an organization that trains college graduates in campaign work and then places them in a campaign of a candidate that is pro women’s rights. Her first candidate was in Fort Worth and won in the primary. She is now working for a candidate here in Houston, Ann Johnson, for the Nov. election.



July Notes

There has been so much great music going on in the studio in June! The early level students have been playing duets.  We have been reviewing counting, rests, time signatures and getting used to playing while someone else is playing. The students just see it as fun and have no idea so much learning is packed into playing duets.

Students level 5 and above have been trying music that they may play for the performance in the fall.  I can see we are going to have a great performance full of classical, jazz, movie themes, boogies and just wonderful music!


No lessons Wednesday July 4, Friday July 20 and Saturday July 21

Performance rehearsal Sunday Oct. 21 4:30-7:30

Celebration (performance) Sunday Nov. 4, 4:30-7:30

at the Houston Piano Company Recital Hall.


A few of my students have been taking an hour lesson over the last year.   This is the first time I have tried this, and both the parents and I are very thrilled with the progress these students are making.  I wanted to make the whole studio aware that I do offer hour lessons for $50.00 an hour. If you are wondering if your student would make a good candidate for this, I would recommend that the student should be someone that would practice for an hour every day whenever possible, which should be split into 2-4 practice sessions.  If this is something you would like to try, let me know and I will watch for an hour time to open up.