Something New - Interview! 

Dear Musicfriends,

I know, I haven't been blogging.

I was recently interviewed by Thrive Global Magazine on what playing jazz has taught me about surviving stressful times:

I am also preparing something very new for The Grant Park Academy of the Arts.  I'll keep you posted on that as it develops. 

Finally, I've been interviewing people!  I'll share these interviews with you as I post them.  That'll be about one a week from now on, but at the moment there are quiet a lot you don't…

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Will Online Learning Replace In-Person Teaching? 

I wrote a science fiction novel called Motherless Child which takes place fifty years from now.  In it, all American students are taught online in huge online classrooms.  Given the impact of the Coronavirus on American life, is that a likely scenario for our future? 

This last month I and my teachers at the Grant Park Academy of the Arts had to move our in-person music lessons completely online.  Like many people, we began teaching via Zoom.  I suspect from now on we’ll always have to offer some kind of…

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The Beach Boys and the Big Picture 

A few nights ago I had a wonderful dream.  I was listening to the chorus of a Brian Wilson song that had never been written.  When I woke up, I was able to put it on paper, and I spent the morning recording it in the style of the Beach Boys with all the vocal parts. 

My family nearly went crazy listening to me.  They only heard me sing each individual line, sometimes falling badly out of tune, and they thought I was doing a terrible job.  It was only when I played them the finished product with all the lush…

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What Am I Doing? How Am I Doing? 

We’re fine.  We’re living together, my family, all 12 of us, in a big house.  We’re only going out when we need to. 

I have been doing lots of piano lessons online, so I’m not bored, really.  However, I do have more time during the day to consider my precarious state and to plan for getting out of it.  I can be relentless with such planning. 

I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about how effective my personal promotion has been on my website.  Periodically I revisit my presentation, my persona, my product…

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I Reserve the Right To Freak Out 

I’ve learned so many lessons from the crisis we’re in.  The horrible situation provides many gifts which are not horrible.  I’m greedily gathering them around myself. 

Monday night I hit a low point.  I crawled in my bed and pulled the covers up to my head.  When I had recovered myself enough, I called a friend of mine who is a crisis manager and I asked him for his advice on how to just *be* during all of this. 

He gave me this advice about how to manage a crisis. 

      1) You can only work with the

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Safety Is Not the Goal 

My grandmother passed yesterday.  She was 104.  I was privileged to give a speech at her funeral in which I talked about the things she taught me. 

I didn’t have time to include everything I learned from her in that short address.  In these confusing times, one of the more important lessons is especially relevant and I want to share it in this blog.  Safety is not the goal. 

It’s not that we shouldn’t be safe, or shouldn’t want to be safe. If you’re in danger, safety is the goal.  But living a life…

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That Dream 

Have you ever had that dream?  The one where you're making a presentation and you have no idea what you're supposed to say?  Or you're a performer and you've forgotten your lines?

It's a very common dream.  It's not one of my recurring nightmares.  But I did have "the dream" a few nights ago.

However, mine had a very interesting twist.

In my dream I had somehow agreed to play piano with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra in a performance of the Bartok Violin Concerto.  Never mind that there isn't a piano part…

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Oh Where, Oh Where Has My LIttle Blog Gone? 

Johnny Costa is one of the best known and least known jazz pianists of the 20th century.  Have you heard of him?  His albums are hardly jazz essentials.  And yet he was one of the most facile, brilliant pianists who ever played the instrument.  Remember all that jazz piano at the beginning and end of Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood?  That was Johnny Costa! 

As I was listening to one of his records, jealous of his chops, I noticed something I never noticed before about a good solo.  Johnny wasn't always playing…

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Act Your Age 

Because I’ve been thinking a lot about getting older and the choices you make along the way, I finally listened to Stephen Sondheim’s musical Merrily We Roll Along.  It tells the story of three friends, but it goes backwards in time, starting at their callous middle-age years and ending with their first meeting as carefree young people.  Once you know how the show works, it’s quite powerful to see the inevitable future fold back and offer them painful choices you know they have to take.

Sondheim and Hal…

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If You Can Listen, You Will Be Heard 

Mornings Monday through Thursday I do music with children ages 3 months to 5 years.  The school where I work is inspired by the Reggio Emilia approach.  Reggio Emilia acts on the assumption that even very young children have ideas about what they want and need to learn, and listening to them and following their ideas is the best way to help them grow.

I have struggled somewhat applying this approach to music.  In my experience, letting children have too much control over a music class can create chaotic…

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