Why Not KISS IT and Make it Better?

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The graphic I made for my small studio bulletin board

When students return to the routine of weekly lessons after a summer of Piano Olympics, 88 Creative Keys Camp or limited private lessons, I feel the need to reinvent myself, the studio, my teaching, somewhat like my grade school teachers did with cute bulletin boards, desk name tags, and clever themes.  A  “fresh coat of paint” in the studio–an engaging app, a stellar practice strategy, a silly gadget to help with technique, a new twist to eliminating old bad habits–seems to boost everyone’s energy level. Here’s an unconventional tactic I’ve implemented this fall.

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Wishing You A Creative 2013!

My treble clef from Pottery Barn decked out for the season.

My treble clef from Pottery Barn decked out for the season.

Years ago, a student family invited me to a Lorie Line Concert. They were shocked that I had never heard of her before.

I attended with some curiosity, not knowing what to expect. Keep in mind, this was soon after graduating with an MA in piano performance and pedagogy with a limited scope of musical styles all from dead composers. Writing a thesis and preparing a recital had put me in a “serious music” zone for years and I assumed that this was the way it would stay.

How surprised I was when Lorie came out in THE most elegant dress I had ever seen on a pianist. She opened the show with a stately, original piece. Throughout her performance, she had a pleasant appearance on her face and often glanced towards the audience to make sure we were enjoying ourselves. And of course, we were.

Looking back, that was a pivotal moment in my music life. Seeing how much fun she and her chamber orchestra were line1having made me wish for that myself. Since then, I’ve purchased many of her books–most of them feature arrangements of holiday tunes. While playing her pieces, it was easy to unlock her arranging secrets. Nothing motivates me more than seeing what others do and wanting to do the same–intrinsic motivation. So I began creating my own arrangements, and even original compositions. There are now countless other LIVING composers that inspire me to do the same.

This year, I was looking for a prelude based on “Go Tell it On the Mountain” for an upcoming church service. I recalled an archived arrangement I made back in 2003 (inspired by Line’s style) and decided to pull it out. Below is a video of me playing the piece in my “it’s-not-all–black-and-white” attire. :-)

As I venture into a partnership with Bradley Sowash called Creative Keys,  and we embark on the Eye Ear Revolution for 2013 (stay tuned for more details), it is our mission to inspire creativity. I hope to re-ignite this creative spark I discovered years ago and resolve to create myself ,and inspire creativity in my students even more than before.

HOWEVER, I’d love to hear your story. Where are you on your creative path? Which direction will you take this year? Please share your experience on how you caught the contagious creative bug or how you intend to come down with a serious case of it this year.

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Thank you to all who have stopped by for a visit here at 88pianokeys.me.

I look forward to spending 2013 with you here as well as at 88CreativeKeys.com

Merry Christmas and Happy 2013!

May Creativity become Contagious.

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Come Hail or High Water

It’s not how you react (with emotion) but how you respond (with action). Included in a fine graduation speech heard recently, these words carry notable weight for me this evening.

Water had already ready receded by the time it was discovered. The round rug was drenched and still drying.

Last night the southern part of Denver received torrential rains and substantial hail. If you recall my blog entitled “Mistakes are Information” you think we should have been prepared for extra rain as some had seeped into my studio in the past. Well…last evening’s storm was unusually heavy. This morning I woke up to a recently-remodeled studio with wet floors. Of course, reaction came first–one of shock and frustration and then the first response was a call to my piano student who remodeled the studio this past March.

No more basket to house percussion instruments…

The negatives of this unfortunate series of events are obvious, there is no need to review them. After “soaking” in reality, here’s my response:

1) It is expected that something strange will happen when my husband travels out of town–a guarantee!  Thankfully, his flight landed–despite some major turbulence–and he was home with me to wade through the situation.

Thankfully, all instruments were spared from any water damage.

2) My student, the contractor, immediately took action and made sure the wood floor was removed ASAP to dry. It now continues to

The bathroom remained dry and now houses chairs and filing cabinets.

“recover” in the garage. All looks good and it appears it can be “popped” back into place once all is dry.

3) Besides the floor, the pianos, computers, and books remained dry.

All the hardwood slats are drying in the garage.

4) So many more neighborhoods sustained much more severe damage. Thinking the garden will recover, however, I morn the loss of cilantro.

5) As I finished taking pictures, this final photo of the lovely orchid reminded me of one more positive. The beautiful plant was a gift from a mom of a student who recently sustained countless rounds of chemotherapy, radiation and surgery and thankfully lives cancer-free. My health is fine, my husband is home and cooking again (yes, I’m spoiled). Even though the hail and high water paid an unexpected visit, the studio will recover and in the meantime lessons will be taught upstairs in the hot and much drier living room.

Perspective–makes it much easier to respond and not react.

Hail and high water, really not a fan of either…so don’t “come” anymore, please! Lesson learned.

Grand “Re-Opening” of the Viss Piano Studio!

In two weeks my piano studio has been emptied, demolished, reconstructed, and put back together–as of 7:30pm Saturday. My goal was to enjoy Easter Sunday, and I have–Rejoice!

As the studio sees many kiddos each day, houses a great deal of tech tools AND books, my goal was to find a balance between functionality, organization, kid-friendliness and warmth. Thanks to my friend Melissa who is a paint color expert, the perfect blue and white was found to offset the lime green chairs I fell in love with from Container Store and Ikea. Thankfully, I live close to those stores and of course Home Depot as MANY trips were made

. A big thank you to my piano student, Brian, who is also a general contractor. He was so sensitive to what I needed and got it done in time! Here he is with his friend–the bride of the wedding he just played for last weekend. (He started lessons last November!). He sets his sights ridiculously high but seems to meet them. Don’t tell him I put this picture in the blog.

Can’t tell you enough how spoiled I feel! A very fine craftsmen built customized “drawers’ for the keyboards so the students can enjoy MIDI games.

I was not planning to do the bathroom but…am so glad I did. It holds a double function–water closet and book closet!

Some favorite new additions: a dry erase board with staves–not cheap! A table for students to complete written work and a great meeting place for group lessons instead of my old card table. Can’t say enough about the bungee chairs at the desk–they are so comfy. And, the wall-long counter is something to behold–ahhh…Also, so thankful I thought of adding a ceiling fan along with the new ceiling canned lights. Wouldn’t you know, TJ Maxx just happened to have this wall pic that HAD to be included!

Not sure if anyone followed this journey but I must say, I will make sure to do this “blogging again when the next remodel occurs. It was a great way to keep track of the old and new, the feelings of frustration to elation. Our kitchen is in the future but NOT soon!

Room For Improvement–Moving Forward

The new desk/computer area will fantastic.

When it was decided to remodel my piano studio, I prepared myself for the unexpected. Here’s the list so far:

1) The painters were instructed to paint but used the white ceiling paint for the entire room. It actually turned out to be great primer for the walls.

2) The painters then were instructed to use the correct color and ended up painting much of the trim blue as well as the walls. The paint is being corrected.

3) A major change in weather–from 80’s and sunshine to 40’s and snow–kept the mud jacker from coming on the scheduled day which backed up laying the floor which backed up….

4) I decided that it was a shame to ignore the bathroom so it got some needed attention as well.

5) As the garage floor collected demolition stuff, the cars were left outside on the driveway. We have had tremendous winds this spring but our property has remained in tact. However, wouldn’t you know, Sunday night the winds descended and one particular gust managed to blow over the basketball hoop and sent it slamming into the Saturn Outlook. Amazingly, it did not break the windshield but did cause some cosmetic damage–close to a $1,000’s worth. Still makes me mad when I think about it–I really hate bad luck! However, recent wild fires destroyed homes and took lives not far from here. We have nothing to complain about.

The bathroom floor needed to be leveled in order to lay the hard wood.

The bathroom also got a new coat of paint and the shelves are already hung.

Yay, canned lights and new ceiling!

 

RFI–Slow goin’

Well, things have slowed down some (in my opinion). The canned lights were installed as was the sheet rock and “mudding” for the brand new ceiling. The dark line around the top shows where the paint stopped and the old ceiling started on the original dark paneling installed when–the 1970’s? I have been assured that Monday things will fire up again. Keep in mind, my goal is to have everything in place by Friday night. I DON’T want to be cramming a move-in on Easter Sunday eve…

Bungee Chair from Container Store--so comfy!

Yes,assembled by ME!

In the meantime, I am working ahead as much as possible and take great pride in my latest achievements–assembling my favorite new chairs. Container Store has these terrific bungee desk chairs–they are SO comfortable.  Thankfully, Ikea opened a store here in Centennial, just down the road and they happened to have these heavy duty chairs in the green I was hoping to find. Both chairs were easy to assemble (after just a small amount of huffing and puffing).

FYI: this pic I found via Pinterest–love this site–inspired my color scheme and basic look. Thus the style and color of chairs. So, now you can guess the color of the walls, floor…

It turned out that Ikea and Container Store had exactly what I was looking for. Was SO thankful for Ikea’s budget pricing and Container Store’s Home Office Sale!

Room for Improvement (RFI) Demolition

Here's the reason for the slant in the floor--a big crack in the foundation. Will be mud-jacked. Think I'll try to be gone when they do that--awfully noisy.

As long as it took for me to move everything out,

Seems like SO much more space with the ceiling lifted.

it seemed relatively easy to demolish everything left in the studio.

The garage is the new home for all the ceiling and floor. Today they take a trip to the dumpster.

No more suspended ceiling!

Closet area getting ripped out

Room for Improvement (RFI) Movin’ Out

Although organization has always been a top priority, I am tolerating living in organized chaos since the studio has now been emptied. That phrase “falling into bed’ seemed to be quite fitting last evening as the task seemed unending.

Overall, it is obvious that there is just TOO much stuff in my studio and all that stuff will not be returning. This week will be filled with re-evaluating what is laying around in my living room, dining room and hallways. If I followed my husband’s philosophy when evaluating his clothes closet (if it hasn’t been worn in a year give it away) that could be at least HALF of my stuff. Not sure if that will happen.

It seems really strange to see my very empty living room filled with stuff that looks rather unimportant…mmm…seems I will be continuing my sorting as to what is important and what is not…

Room for Improvement

 Thanks to an adult piano student who is also a general contractor, I am looking forward to transforming my studio!

Although I have few complaints on the present set-up, there is always room for improvement.

Do you have a wish list for your studio? Would love to hear your ideas. I plan to keep a journal of the remodeling process. Here are pics of how the studio currently appears.

Things I Won’t Miss:

1) The Oat Straw Paint–loved it for years, but it is time.

2) The fluorescent lights–they collect flies and bugs all year long, and when students are looking up at me (and up my nose) they are commenting on the bugs in my lights.

3) Carpet seems to collect “koodies”. It is time for it to go.

4) Although my dad worked really hard on assembling a beautiful computer hutch, desk, filing cabinet, and built in shelves, they take up so much space.

5) The floor slants so chairs with wheels always seem to roll to the south.

Stay tuned!

Quotes About Music and Art

Just found this link as I continue my search to designing a studio remodel.

Quotes About Music and Art.