Recital Date-Mark the Calendars!

Students and Parents,

We are coming up on Recital season, and it’s time we all mark our calendars for this years’ Recital!  My recital is scheduled this year for Sunday, May 16th at 12:00pm.  As usual, the recital will take place at Hall Piano Company at 901 David Dr. in Metairie.  We have some very exciting new features for this years’ recital, as well!  Not only will the kids be playing on Hall Piano’s new stage, but the staff at Hall Piano has also very generously offered to record the recital and stream it live on their website for any relatives who may be located in other states or cities.  Please start planning for this big date!  More details will come soon!







Team Sports vs. Music Lessons

Recently I have been surfing the internet for some good articles on the pros and cons of kids being involved in sports vs. being involved in music lessons.  Much to my dismay, there doesn’t seem to be much helpful information out there, so I will just give my personal opinion on the subject.  I have had many parents start their kids in music lessons and question the value of music vs. school and club sports, as well as parents who don’t see the use of learning how to play a sport over the challenges of learning to play an instrument.  Both are extremes, and neither is “correct.”

As many of you will probably be surprised to find out, I was a very involved athlete in Middle School and High School, as well as a classically trained pianist and vocalist.  I was the captain of my soccer team, and I played Varsity soccer my freshman through senior years of high school.  In fact, I was in the process of being scouted to play for Loyola University’s soccer team when I decided to become a music business major, and had to choose my degree over college sports.  On the flip side, I started teaching piano when I was 16, frequently going home to teach a lesson or two before driving back to school for a soccer game.  I was consistently involved in school plays and took private voice lessons throughout most of high school.  While my experiences may be unique, I would have done anything differently, and I could never choose one over the other.

Music and sports both have their advantages.  Team sports encourage kids to learn how to interact with others and perform tasks for the benefit of the whole and not the individual.  They teach kids how to adjust to many different types of personalities and to learn how to overcome differences to achieve a final goal.  Music lessons, on the other hand, do tend to be more anti-social and very much focused on individual achievement.  This is both a good thing and a bad thing.  It is important for kids to learn how to work independently of their parents and friends to achieve a specific goal they have in mind, as it is also important for them to learn how to interact with adults and authority figures who are providing the lessons.  Music lessons push kids to constantly build upon prior knowledge and learn how to take constructive criticism, not to mention the challenges of performing in front of an audience.  Both teach discipline and both teach adaptability.  The point being, kids do not have to choose, and the parents do not have to choose for them.

My personal opinion is that sports and music are wonderful compliments to each other.  Where one activity lacks, the other fills in the missing pieces and teaches children to be well-rounded and accepting of others’ talents and interests.  The most important thing that a parent can do to encourage their children in both activities is to maintain balance.  It is not fair to expect your child to be a world-class athlete and internationally renowned musician.  While some of us are built for that, the reality is that the greater population of kids involved in both sports and music probably won’t grow up to do either professionally, which is fine.  It does not belittle the lessons that these experiences will teach them, and it is important to encourage your children to follow their dreams regardless of how tangible or intangible they may be.  It is the parents’ job to show their children how to be the best they can possibly be and still leave room for mistakes.  Mistakes are how we learn, and learning, after all, is the final goal.

International Piano Medalists Perform in New Orleans

I received an e-mail yesterday about a great concert coming up on Saturday, March 27th in conjunction with the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra.  The three medalists from 2008’s New Orleans International Piano Competition will be playing with the Orchestra at Loyola’s Roussel Hall.  These are some great performers to catch if you haven’t already, so please consider checking it out!

International Piano Medalists Perform with the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra
Saturday, March 27th

What: Concerto Showcase VI
Featuring the three medalists of the 2008 New Orleans International Piano Competition in performance with the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra.  Gold Medalist Spencer Myer will play Rachmaninoff’s Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini; Silver Medalist Dmitri Levkovich will play the Chopin Concerto #1; Bronze Medalist Vakhtang Kodanashvili will play the Tchaikovsky Concerto #1.

Saturday, March 27


Place: Roussel Hall, Loyola University New Orleans

Tickets: $40 at door; $30 advance purchase; $20 student with Student I.D.

To order tickets and to find out more information about this concert and a special Patron Level concert featuring these same three pianists in a recital of solo piano repertoire the night before please call (504) 899-4826 or

The Musical Art Society of New Orleans (MASNO) vision is to be a primary force in establishing New Orleans as a vital and vibrant center of classical music, recognized regionally, nationally and internationally.  MASNO’s mission is to create opportunities to hear, participate in, and appreciate performances of classical music by established and emerging artists; to encourage the development of supportive, knowledgeable and enthusiastic audiences for concerts presented by the Musical Arts Society and other musical organizations; to nurture the development of talent; and to champion music education.

S.O.U.L Concert this Friday, March 5th!

Hey Students!

If you need some culture events for school or are just looking for something creative to do this weekend, come see me sing with the Symphony Chorus at the S.O.U.L Concert on Friday, March 5th at Ursuline Academy!  This is going to be a really different kind of choral concert, with most of the choral selections being from other countries.  The concert will feature the Singers of the United Lands quartet as well as the Symphony Chorus of New Orleans, Ben Franklin High School Chorus, Ursuline Academy Chorus, members of Delgado’s chorus, as well as several other schools’ choruses.  Tickets are only $10, and you can get one from me if you’re interested!  Hope to see some of you there!

Dealing with Performance Anxiety

I found this great article on handling performance anxiety and controlling your nerves.  This website has some other helpful tips on preparing for a performance, memorizing, and specific tips for auditions.  Check it out!

Dealing with Performance Anxiety

Maintaining pieces for performance

With the Festival coming up this weekend and many students trying to cram their last bits of practice in this week, I thought it might be helpful to provide a few tips on how to maintain completed pieces for performances and competitions.

1. Play the whole piece hands alone with dynamics and articulation to help point out the patterns in each hand.  It is important not to let one hand’s accuracy rely upon the accuracy of the other!  Our hands are not perfect, and they sometimes can’t be trusted!

2. Always review memorized pieces with the music first.  It may be difficult to really follow your music after working from memory for an extended period of time, but it helps eliminate the possibility of memory slips over time.

3. Practice to perform! Many of you have heard me telling you this repeatedly over the past couple of weeks.  You will never know where you are truly having trouble unless you force yourself to go through your pieces in their entirety without stopping to correct mistakes.  Make mental notes on the places where you had problems in your performance and go back and work on them afterwards.

4. Practice starting your pieces from different places and continuing through the end.  In longer pieces, you may even want to start in the middle of a phrase and continue on from there.  It will help you feel more secure in performance situations to know that you can start from any place in the piece.  Mistakes always happen, but learning to minimize their effect on the overall performance is the most valuable lesson you can learn.

5.  If possible, practice on several different pianos with varying touches and sounds.  It is important to learn how to adjust your performance tempos and touch to the piano you are playing.  You have to play the piano…do not let the piano play you!  For a true test of your confidence, find a piano that is out of tune and in poor condition.  If you can perform well under the worst circumstances, then you will surely perform well under great ones!

6. Perform your pieces like a concert from start to finish as many times as you can for as many different people as you can.  The more you play for others, the more comfortable you will feel in front of an audience or judge.  Just remember that half your audience doesn’t know you’ve made a mistake unless you call attention to it!

7. If you have recording capabilities, record your performance several different times and listen for the places you like and the spots that need improvement.  You may be surprised what you hear!

Most importantly, remember that performances are supposed to be fun!  No one puts more pressure on you than yourself, so learn how to relax and enjoy the experience!  All you can ask of yourself is to do your best possible job on that day and deal with the rest tomorrow!

Festival Attire and Times

So, I think this is finally the last installment of the Festival information.  This year’s LFMC Festival will be held in Delgado’s Music Building on Saturday, February 27th.  For directions, please check the Competition Info page.  When getting your child ready for this event, please be sure to bring the ORIGINAL COPIES of both of their pieces of music.  Photocopies will not be accepted, and the student will be disqualified for bringing them.  If I have not yet given your child the original music, please let me know this week, and I will be sure to make arrangements to do so.  Also, both pieces must be played from memory!  All students should be memorized by this point, and they will not be allowed to use their music at any time.  Please check their memory and make sure they are prepared.  Lastly, please follow these guidelines for competition attire and check the time listed below for Saturday, February 27th.  Please plan on arriving 15 minutes ahead of the time listed below.  Thanks, and I look forward to some great performances this year!



  • No tennis shoes, jeans, shorts, or T-Shirts
  • Nice pants and a collared shirt and dress shoes will be fine.  A suit and/or tie are not required.


  • No tennis shoes, flip-flops, jeans, shorts, or T-Shirts
  • No jewelry around the wrists or rings on the fingers…leave them at home!
  • Nice pants or a skirt are fine…use the “Would my grandmother find this appropriate” rule as far as length on skirts.
  • No heels above 2 inches if you are using the pedal!
  • No low cut shirts…use your best judgement.


  • Payton Ball – 12:15pm
  • Isabel Celata – 8:45am
  • Alexandra Elliott – 8:45am
  • Leo Gutierrez – 9:15am
  • Claire Kittell – 12:15pm
  • Molly Koochekpour – 12:15pm
  • Rose Koochekpour – 12:15
  • Rimi Mandal – 9:30am
  • Priscilla Moradel – 8:30am
  • Patrick Murray – 12:15pm
  • Hala Raslan – 12:00pm
  • Kaitlyn Tholen – 9:30am
  • Alex Thomas – 2:00pm
  • Mo Wang – 10:30am
  • Bryant White, Jr. – 1:00pm
  • Sabrina Yang – 10:30am

Thanks to you all for your support and encouragement!

Why take piano lessons?

Wondering if your child’s lessons are making a difference in their education? These studies from Music Education Online should help ease your mind and encourage your children to continue studying music throughout their academic careers.

1. In a 2000 survey, 73 percent of respondents agree that teens who play an instrument are less likely to have discipline problems.
– Americans Love Making Music – And Value Music Education More Highly Than Ever, American Music Conference, 2000.

2. Students who can perform complex rhythms can also make faster and more precise corrections in many academic and physical situations, according to the Center for Timing, Coordination, and Motor Skills
– Rhythm seen as key to music’s evolutionary role in human intellectual development, Center for Timing, Coordination, and Motor Skills, 2000.

3. A ten-year study indicates that students who study music achieve higher test scores, regardless of socioeconomic background.
– Dr. James Catterall, UCLA.

4. A 1997 study of elementary students in an arts-based program concluded that students’ math test scores rose as their time in arts education classes increased.
– “Arts Exposure and Class Performance,” Phi Delta Kappan, October, 1998.

5. First-grade students who had daily music instruction scored higher on creativity tests than a control group without music instruction.
– K.L. Wolff, The Effects of General Music Education on the Academeic Achievement, Perceptual-Motor Development, Creative Thinking, and School Attendance of First-Grade Children, 1992.

6. In a Scottish study, one group of elementary students received musical training, while another other group received an equal amount of discussion skills training. After six (6) months, the students in the music group achieved a significant increase in reading test scores, while the reading test scores of the discussion skills group did not change.
– Sheila Douglas and Peter Willatts, Journal of Research in Reading, 1994.

7. According to a 1991 study, students in schools with arts-focused curriculums reported significantly more positive perceptions about their academic abilities than students in a comparison group.
– Pamela Aschbacher and Joan Herman, The Humanitas Program Evaluation, 1991.

8. Students who are rhythmically skilled also tend to better plan, sequence, and coordinate actions in their daily lives.
– “Cassily Column,” TCAMS Professional Resource Center, 2000.

9. In a 1999 Columbia University study, students in the arts are found to be more cooperative with teachers and peers, more self-confident, and better able to express their ideas. These benefits exist across socioeconomic levels.
– The Arts Education Partnership, 1999.

10. College admissions officers continue to cite participation in music as an important factor in making admissions decisions. They claim that music participation demonstrates time management, creativity, expression, and open-mindedness.
– Carl Hartman, “Arts May Improve Students’ Grades,” The Associated Press, October, 1999.

Mardi Gras Holidays

As we are rounding the corner to the Mardi Gras break, I know many of you will be leaving town and making plans for company. Please note that the only days I will be taking off this year are Lundi Gras (Monday, February 15th) and Mardi Gras (Tuesday, February 16th). I would be happy to reschedule any students who will be missing their lessons. Also, if the lesson falls on either of those days and the student is planning to participate in the LFMC Festival, please plan on rescheduling the lesson later in the week. Thanks!