Saturday, July 03, 2021

HBD!Project - May your June be Proud


This recording project needed a lot of practice for some very difficult rep, but was a lot of fun to record and play. HBD!Project's May/June compilation of composers features a huge cast of singers, none of whom I rehearsed with before recording the tracks, although let's just say Natalya and I entered into negotiations regarding the tempo for the Wagner Ride of the Valkyries. 

Production credits go to Natalya Gennadi and Catherin Carew for putting together the project, as well as Bruno Roy for video and sound editing. 




Here's a complete track listing with a rundown of the cast for each:


0:39 Ride of the Valkyries Composer: Richard Wagner Chris Foley, piano Siegrune: Kristina Maria Agur, mezzo soprano Voice of Ortlinde: Catharin Carew, mezzo soprano Helmwige: Stephanie DeCiantis, soprano Grimgerde: Leah Giselle Field,mezzo soprano Face of Ortlinde: Gregory Finney, baritone, actor Gerhilde: Natalya Gennadi, soprano Schwertleite: Suzanne Hendrix-Case, mezzo soprano Roßweiße: Jennifer Routhier, mezzo soprano Waltraute: Jillian Yemen, mezzo soprano 5:48 Don Juan's Serenade Composer: Pyotr Tchaykovsky Text: Alexey Tolstoy Bruno Roy - Baritone Chris Foley, piano 8:43 Miss Muffet is a Hipster Composer / text: Rossa Crean Catharin Carew, mezzo soprano Chris Foley, piano

Friday, July 02, 2021

Email Subscriptions via Feedburner Will Be No Longer Available in July 2021

This is a message for Collaborative Piano Blog readers who signed up for the original email subscription via Feedburner before 2019. As of July 2021, Google will be sunsetting this service and it will no longer be available. 

If you would still like to receive Collaborative Piano Blog updates via email, I recommend that you sign up for my newsletter, which comes out most Fridays. Each week I give updates on what I’m up to and link to the latest articles by myself and others that you might find useful. 

Have a great weekend! 

Tuesday, June 22, 2021

The Diverse Career: My Interview with Amy Boyes for ORMTA Notes


A few months ago, Amy Boyes interviewed me for the summer 2021 issue of ORMTA Notes Magazine (the interview is on page 12). Her questions got me reflecting on my current professional hats, balancing personal and career time, side hustles, and professional development opportunities. 

On channeling side projects into consistently profitable activities:

Some of my creative projects will never generate significant direct income. There was a time when I worked hard at placement of product ads on the Collaborative Piano Blog, and for a while I was able to make around $50-80 a month. However, the work I put into the elegant placement and rotation of ads wasn’t worth what I got out of it. 

Things changed when I realized that blogging could become highly profitable if I used it to attract students in my teaching practice. I placed direct registration links from the top of the blog’s header and within a few years, my studio was at full capacity. The important concept I learned was that by giving away something for free, I was able to leverage it to advertise the activity that was most profitable for me - teaching piano.

I'm not sure how long the entire issue will be available on the ORMTA site before it becomes members-only content. If you don't want to read the entire magazine, you can read just the article here

Monday, June 21, 2021

Join Me at the University of Rochester's Future of Work Alumni Industry Night June 22 at 6pm EDT


On Tuesday, June 22 at 6pm EDT I'll be hosting a breakout room for the arts and entertainment at the University of Rochester's Career Conversations: The Future of Work alumni industry night. This is an online event that is open to students and alumni from the University of Rochester and Eastman School communities on Zoom. 

I'll be answering questions, sharing my experiences, and giving advice to those who are interested, and look forward to hearing about your experiences in the arts and entertainment breakout room! You can register for the event here. Hope to see you there!

Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Praise Students for Their Effort, Not Their Talent


Now that our students' RCM exam results are starting to come in and we celebrate their achievements with them, let's be mindful of how we congratulate our students. There's a difference between praising our students for their identity as talented people and praising them for putting in the effort to achieve things. 

Carol Dweck in Mindset: The New Psychology of Success writes about an experiment she undertook to give two groups of kids IQ-related questions. One group was praised for their ability and the other was praised for their effort. The result:

Both groups were exactly equal to begin with. But right after the praise, they began to differ. As we feared, the ability praise rushed students right into the fixed mindset, and they showed all the signs of it, too: When we gave them a choice, they rejected a challenging new task that they could learn from. They didn't want to do anything that could expose their flaws and call into question their talent (p. 72). 

More telling:

Since this was a kind of IQ test, you might say that praising ability lowered the students' IQs. And that praising their effort raised them (p. 73).

 Anne-Laure Le Cunff in her article about The Praise Paradox goes into more detail about types of praise:

Praise can be defined based on two criteria: what is being praised, and how much it is being praised. We can praise someone’s abilities (“You are so talented!”), or we can praise their efforts (“You must have worked so hard!”). We can give appropriate praise (“You did very well this time!”) or inflated praise (“This is your best work ever!”). Each type of praise will have a different impact on someone’s self-esteem and future motivation levels.

Anne-Laure defines three types of praise that will enable students to continue working hard in the future:

  1. Define the value we want to teach
  2. Replace flattery with encouragement
  3. Focus on effort rather than ability 
So when you're celebrating how well your students have done, bear in mind that the best way to positively reinforce their success is to comment on how hard they've worked, rather than mention any abilities. Because in the long run it's the hard workers who win out. 

(Photo by Brett Jordan on Unsplash)

Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Piano Music She Wrote


With the current momentum to make the repertoire more inclusive, never has there been as much interest in the music of women composers as there is now. However, it's often hard to find properly curated sources of works in order to choose the right pieces to perform or teach - where does one look? 

Sandra Mogensen and Erica Sipes have just started Piano Music She Wrote, an online directory of publicly accessible piano music by women. With a $15 donation, you can get access to the PMSW Directory, a listing of all the works by women composers available on IMSLP, with 10% of all money donated flowing back to IMSLP for their work in making their library of online scores available to us. 

Sandra and Erica also have a YouTube channel and an events page where you can find out more about the composers that they're uncovering. 

If you're interested in purchasing their directory, you can find it here

Here's Erica playing Lullaby Under a Night Sky by Andrea Untung (IMSLP link to score):



Wednesday, April 28, 2021

The Tambora Climate Disaster and How It Influenced the Development of Lieder in 1815-1816

John Constable, The Quarters Behind Alresford Hall, 1816

The light in this 1816 John Constable painting seems to be completely wrong. Why?

Over the years I've been fascinated with the second decade of the 19th century, and why musical output changed so much during this time. The list of active composers dropped to a trickle, almost no symphonies were written, just a handful of operas, but plenty of small works. What happened?

I finally figured it out, and my article for the May-June 2021 edition of the NATS Journal of Singing spells it out: in 1815 Mount Tambora erupted in the South Pacific, leading to a global climate catastrophe which seriously impacted the climate and economy of Europe. In the article I make the correlation between the onset of the catastrophe, its fallout across Europe and the development of lieder as a viable artistic genre, specifically in the music of Franz Schubert and Ludwig van Beethoven, living a few minutes away from each other in Vienna (although they almost certainly hadn't met yet). 

I would like to say a huge word of thanks to Margo Garrett for her constant encouragement, and who was instrumental in helping me bring this idea to fruition for her Collab Corner in the NATS Journal. Margo also was kind enough to send me some difficult-to-find German sources from her library that helped me to trace the exact locations of Beethoven in the spring of 1815. 

This Isn’t the First New Normal: Finding Correlations Between the Tambora Climate Disaster and the Development of Lieder in 1815-16 (direct pdf link)