Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Snowmen Cards and the New Year

Snowmen cards gather round to say Happy New Year!

This snowman suggests a delicious punch to ring in the new year.

Take time to make a hot date...

or snuggle up with a delicious hot chocolate.

Best wishes for a toasty and joyous 2009!

FoundArtCards by 2008

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

My Holiday Tables

In December we held a party to celebrate the San Francisco premiere of David Saslav's "Far, Far Away on Judea's Plains" for a cappella chorus. The church choir from St. Francis Lutheran Church sang it as part of their Christmas Concert on December 21, 2008.

You may listen to a midi rendition of the piece on our web site at RenditionsMusic.Com . Click on compositions which will take you to the link on the Sibelius Storefront.

We invited friends to join us for our version of a Smorgasbord. We asked guests to bring a favorite holiday food from their culture or childhood to share. The table was loaded with holiday favorites such as (cheese balls from the Betty Crocker Cookbook, salmon mousse, sausage rolls, and orange candy cake were my contributions) Quiche Lorraine, pork and chive dumplings, hot wings, pigs in a blanket, hand beaten biscuits, sweet potato muffins, a red and green salad, gingerbread, and many other sweet treats.

The table awaits the goodies...

I spray painted a cabbage and instead of putting fresh flowers in the center as I originally planned, I put ornament balls...

The table at Christmas (photographed without using the flash - a mistake?)...the napkin rings and butter knives were made from jingle bells. For Christmas Dinner this year - shared with family - I served Cassoulet. I ordered the ingredients from D'Artagnan . This was a great holiday dish as I just assembled the dish early in the morning and then forgot about it until we were ready to eat at 3:00 PM

One place setting. I don't know what the Nutcracker is doing there...I just love the Nutcracker and isn't anything from that classic tale appropriate for this time of year? I should have used the zoom to show the cute reindeer glasses from Pottery Barn.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Holiday Crafts

This year I made all of the gifts I gave and are just a few of my products for 2008 including the launch of my LissaLynn's Just Bee line of products. That line joins my other product lines FoundArtCards and Handmade by Bee.

Pickled Carrots for Thanksgiving

Cucumber Melon Soy Travel Candles

Hazelnut Coffee Soy Candles

The bath salts...I had other packaging for the bath salts, but it looks like I didn't get a photo before shipping...oh well...

"Sex on the Beach" Soy Candles in stemless martini glasses. Sent with the drink recipe...

1 1/2 oz vodka

1/2 oz peach schnapps

2 oz cranberry juice

2 oz orange juice

Add vodka and peach schnapps to a highball glass over ice. Fill with equal measures of cranberry juice and orange juice, and stir. Pour into martini glass when candle is gone...

I'm thinking about making a complete line of "cocktail" candles...we'll see...

Glittered candle holders with peppermint candles...deer, trees and snow in white glitter (from Martha Stewart)

Merry Christmas

...while visions of sugarplums danced in their heads...

And now, listen to my solo piano version of "Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy" by Tchaikovsky.

This Christmas I made sugarplums with my husband David. They are delicious.

Here is the recipe.

Christmas Sugarplums
from Bon Appetite
For about 20 Sugarplums

3 Tablespoons sugar

1 6-ounce package (about 1 1/2 cups) mixed chopped dried fruits with raisins

1/2 cup slivered almonds

2 Tablespoons brandy

1/2 teaspoon (scant) ground mace or nutmeg

Line a small baking pan with waxed paper or use paper candy cups. Place 3 tablespoons sugar in small bowl. Finely chop fruits, almonds, brandy and mace or nutmeg in processor until mixture sticks together. Working with 1 rounded teaspoonful at a time, roll mixture into 1/4 to 1-in-diameter balls. Roll fruit balls in sugar in bowl to coat. Arrange in prepared pan or cups, spacing evenly. Let stand at least 15 minutes. (Can be prepared 2 days ahead. Cover tightly; chill.)

MTAC Christmas Party

The San Francisco Branch of the Music Teacher's of California held a lovely Holiday Party on Sunday, December 14, 2008. I'm a new member of the Board, so now I'm very involved with the Branch's activities. For the party (instead of practicing!) I made party favors.

Little drums with chocolates inside

The "drums" hanging from a "tree"...

Duets were played (Phyllis and Rhonda)..I played "Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring" by JS Bach for two pianos arranged by Dame Myra Hess with the Branch President, Scott Pratt.

David Saslav and Scott Pratt at Jane's beautiful Steinway B
A delicious Chinese buffet

Some of the guests.
Thank you Jane (MTAC-SF Branch Board member) for hosting the lovely party!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Ann Saslav's Thoughts about Learning Music

From my mother-in-law, Ann Saslav --- thoughts about playing the piano...

Musicians and actors share one quality, the ability to "recreate" the thoughts of others (the master composer, the master playwright that created the work studied)...and it has been my experience that "learning" and "re-creating" and "remembering" are three different processes. Each depends on separate brain-functions that are somewhat cognizant to the student.

1. Learning and discovering:
Part a. is sketching a new piece of music at first-reading, reacting to it as one travels over its patterns and noting the reactions that one feels.

Part b. is carefully and meticulously learning every note physically and coordinating the patterns into larger sentences...paragraphs...and finally, a total overview of the work. This is the process called "practicing". Practicing can be tedious or exhilarating depending on many factors of health and restedness and anxiousness to prepare for a deadline..and discipline. (This is another subject entirely!)

2. Re-creating: It is of utmost importance for the public Performance to be a FRESH and SPONTANEOUS recreation...for performer and though hearing it for the first time as a delighted participant. The act of "communication to the audience enters here too"...with projection of energy as though exclaiming an exciting discovery to a friend...and a professional artist take into account the acoustics of the hall (how many "friends" and how close to the acoustic piano will they be?..activating different projections for chamber music blending, or solo projections with and over an orchestra collaboration..changing weight productions and fingerings and use of pedals accordingly and instinctively).

3. Finally, remembering (memorization)....depends entirely on the conscious ability of the performer to understand the above (1., and 2.) and to "will" the execution and emotions of the music to take place even in the private practice studio or home many times before performing before the public. The daily public IS the performer him-or-herself in the practice room growing increasingly familiar with the material, the emotions, the projections. This work is never finished but continues even the day after the public performance. It is the performer's repertoire for life!

For more about Ann:
scroll down to find information about Ann and Isidor Saslav's touring program in Texas
a piece written for Ann when she was a touring artist in New Zealand

a 2007 project that inspired my "Journeys" program featuring the Lyric Suite, Opus 54 of Grieg

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Prize Patrol

My students have been working diligently on counting and understanding rhythmic concepts, so it was now time to unveil the prizes. Just a few of the many items my students may purchase with their "Renditions Dollars"...

Knowledge cards!

Treble clef pencils - very popular.

Mozart Mouse from the Music for Little Mozarts Series

I love Pachelbel Penguin

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Count Chocula

This year the theme for my teaching studio is to focus on rhythm - specifically counting. To this end, a character --- "Count Le Musique" was created to motivate my students. My students receive "Count Le Musique" points as they master specific rhythm goals that I've set for each student. Goals include counting out loud while playing, writing in counting in various meters, rhythmic dictation, memorization of note values and meter definitions, etc. Points are redeemed for "Music Dollars" and then my students use the money to buy prizes. So far, the program has been very successful, especially in October, because in honor of Halloween - "Count Le Musique" morphed into "Count Chocula" and double points were implemented for the entire month.

Boxes of "Count Chocula" cereal were given out as prizes for students who earned 50 points or more in October. Bags of candy were for other students with less points, but who still earned points in the program.

more gift boxes...and pumpkin lollies for good students...

If my students earned 100 points or more - "Count Chocula" made personal visits to the student's home ("Count Chocula" made personal visits to six students)

However, no students received a visit from Frankenberry...and what is Count Chocula doing in bed with Frankenberry?!?!....What would General Mills say?!?!

Visit YouTube for some great "Count Chocula" commercials

Monday, October 27, 2008

8 Plus Hands

This past Sunday, I was fortunate to be part of an eight hand piano gathering at the home Juli Innman in Napa to read through arrangements of Symphonies by John Poole. Seven pianists gathered to play symphonies by Schubert, Mendelssohn, Mozart, Beethoven and Dvorak as well a transcription of Gounod's Faust. John has promised to provide a link to the session with a list of the works we played. Coming soon.....

Sunday, October 5, 2008

The Guests

Of course the 100th anniversary party for our 1908 Steinway would not have been a success without the guests...

enjoying the libations...

...guests in shadow...

...relaxing before the music begins again...

...waiting for a turn at the piano

...Patti after her splendid performance of the Berg Sonata

...And some comments from the guests...

Thanks for the well tempered party. Everything is in key! - Liang & John
We're happy to help you celebrate your piano's 100th birthday - Verity & Ed
What a perfect 100th Birthday celebration for your "baby" (grand) - Toni D.
This is what music should be - enjoyed! - Tamara L.

Loved your food - Gary D.
What a great idea to celebrate the 100th B-day of the Piano! - Nancy D.
To Steinway, Melissa and David - Happy Birthday! Looking forward to the
150th Birthday party! - Miwa & Ron
All the best to you, 1908 Steinway A! To the next 100 years! - Janet C.

...and many, many more lovely salutations and felicitations.

Thanks to everyone who made our party for our Steinway so special and memorable.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Beautiful Day

We had a beautiful day for our party celebrating the 100th anniversary of our Steinway fog!

balloons and just a hint of Halloween provide a festive atmosphere

on our deck and...

in the house...the bar...

David in the kitchen with camera...

Friday, October 3, 2008

Eat / Drink

There was quite a bit of eating and drinking at our party to celebrate the 100th year of our Steinway Model A Piano....

The Menu
Black and White Libations

Truffle Oil Infused Popcorn
Tapenade-Stuffed Eggs with Caviar
Tea Sandwiches
Chicken with Dill Butter
Roast Beef with Horseradish Cream Cheese
Cream Cheese with Cucumber and Watercress
Sausage Rolls
Assorted salami
Vegetarian Sushi
Black Olives with Feta Cheese
Black Grapes with Brie Cheese
Figs Stuffed with Gorgonzola
Mini Gougeres (little cheese puffs)

White and Dark Chocolate Squares
Black and White Shortbread Cookies
Black and White M&Ms

French Opera Cake with Raspberry Cream and Chocolate Ganache

White and Red Wine
White and Dark Beer
Sparkling Water

the sushi platter, feta cheese and olives peeking out from the side - truffle oil infused popcorn missing from the bowl...

our sausage shrine to Spanish composer Albeniz. The sign reads:
Isaac Manuel Francisco Albéniz i Pascual a Spanish pianist and composer best known for his piano works based on folk music. In 1908 he composed his most famous work, Iberia, a suite of twelve piano "impressions".
Albéniz died on 18th May 1909 at age 48 in
Cambo-les-Bains and is buried in the Cementiri del Sudoest, Barcelona.
Albeniz loved sausages and was reputed to wash them down with copious amounts of gin, which may have hastened his demise.

...the tea sandwiches on black and white bread along with the figs...

Oreos (very popular at the party) and the shortbread cookies

lovely grapes from the farmer's market with brie