We are celebrating quite a few major events here at MainlyPiano.com this month. First is the most obvious - our gorgeous and completely overhauled site! I have been using Apple’s iWeb software for the site for a lot of years, but it’s been unsupported for quite awhile. I’ve had nightmares worrying about losing the site at some point or not being able to access it. I mentioned this to Tim Neumark a few months ago, totally unaware that he was such an amazing web developer in addition to being an amazing composer and pianist. Long story short, he took the ball and ran with it. It was an enormous job with almost 3000 pages to convert to the new software that he designed - literally one page at a time. Tim is really fast, and it was still taking him an average of four minutes to convert each of the reviews (1850+), plus the Artist Pages, interviews, etc. The launch of the site didn’t go smoothly, but it was the fault of the hosting company, so we moved the site to another server. We are now up and running on a new server that Tim can manage! The response to the new site has been glorious! You can read about the redesign here
The other major event is approaching issue #400 of Pianotes
! I wanted to do something special for that issue, and since we launched the all-new MainlyPiano in time for issue 399, I’m going to do a history of the newsletter and MainlyPiano.com itself. I haven’t done that since issue 300, which was back in April 2008 when it was still a print newsletter that I mailed to a LOT of people every month! I will spread this history out over at least two issues - three if I need to. We’ll see how it goes! Enjoy!
I quit my job with Fidelity Savings and Loan in Oakland, CA in January 1/81 to teach piano and develop my art career, planning to do both equally. It didn’t quite work out that way! I took my first piano student in 3/81. The first issue of Pianotes came out in 4/82 and was basically just a flier outlining lesson fees. It didn’t become a monthly newsletter until 3/83.
In June 1983, I was offered the position of principal teacher at the piano store at Hilltop Mall in Richmond, CA. They wanted me to teach all of my lessons in the store and to give the free group lessons that came with the purchase of a new piano. While I was deciding whether or not to accept their offer, I did a six-week session of free lessons to a group of about thirty people ranging in age from about 3-90, some of whom didn’t speak English! What a nightmare! All of the pianos in the store were so out of tune that I was embarrassed, and a lot of the parents of the students I already had were not happy about the prospect of going to the mall for lessons. A no-brainer! I declined and still laugh about the memory!
In 10/83, I started a waiting list for students for the first time, thinking I was maxed-out at 30 students. Was I ever in for a surprise in a few years! By the late 80’s, I was teaching 40-45 students a week - most of the lessons in students’ homes.
My house in Richmond, CA was too small for recitals, so we had two of them at students’ homes that had large living rooms. That was a lot of trouble, and after checking out churches and other possible sites, I decided to have recitals in my backyard, which was bigger than the house. The small dining room acted as a stage when we took out the sliding glass door, and the audience sat on chairs in the wide patio area. We just couldn’t do Christmas concerts due to the weather!
In 9/84, I did my first Composer of the Month (Beethoven) and started putting trivia between the articles. This doesn’t seem very significant, but it turned out to be a HUGE milestone!
I did a lot of reviewing in June to try to get back on-schedule. Michael Debbage also added a couple. For all of the latest reviews, click here
. There are also a couple of new songbook reviews, so go here
In 1/86, I found myself in the midst of a divorce. It was scary, but it also freed me in many ways to pursue some of my dreams.
In 11/87, I did the first issue of Pianotes on my little MacIntosh SE using WriteNow and Pagemaker.
In 11/88, I moved to Hercules, CA.
In 5/89, my “crazy pianist” logo appeared in Pianotes for the first time. More importantly, Yanni was the first living Composer of the Month. I had seen his first Bay Area concert in 10/88, and was very excited by the experience! He was still relatively unknown, so I sent some questions to Private Music and his publicity person answered them for me.
In 10/89, the evening before the Loma Prieta earthquake, Yanni left a message on my phone answering machine (remember those) saying he really enjoyed my article about him and that he would call back the following day. Of course, the quake knocked out all the phones for the better part of a week, so I didn’t get a chance to talk to him for awhile! We had a couple of fairly long phone conversations in early 1990.
In 5/90, I was able to interview Suzanne Ciani by phone (another first), and she was Composer of the Month in June of that year.
Upcoming House Concerts:
We have two house concerts coming up in July, both featuring two artists each.
The first will be on Saturday, July 9th with Kathryn Kaye and Louis Colaiannia. This will be Louis’ second concert here, and I’m really looking forward to hearing some of the music he wrote when he was here last year that will be on his new album due for release this fall. This will be Kathryn’s first visit, and I’m really looking forward to meeting her and seeing her play live! Here is the link
to the flyer.
The second concert will be on Saturday July 30th with Dan Chadburn and Tom Nichols playing a benefit for the Oregon Coast Humane Society (formerly the Florence Area Humane Society). This will be Dan and Tom’s third concert here and it’s always a real treat! Here is the link
to the flyer.
Both concerts will be at 7:00 PM. For more information about other upcoming concerts, click here
In 1/91, instead of a theory worksheet, students were given the assignment to write to the dad of a couple of the students in the group or to “any soldier” during Operation Desert Storm. 41 letters and drawings were sent.
In 3/91, I saw David Lanz in concert for the first time and was trying to contact his “people” to do an interview. I think the concert was at Davies Symphony Hall in SF.
In 11/91, I did my first face-to-face interview with Philip Aaberg at a coffee shop in Oakland.
When I bought a new laser printer in 1/92, the newsletters suddenly became MUCH easier to read!!
In June 1992, I took groups of students to see Yanni in concert in Santa Rosa and then Berkeley on my birthday later the same week. At the time, he had a small band of amazing musicians that included Charlie Bisharat and Karen Briggs on violin in addition to Charlie Adams on percussion. We were in the fourth row in Berkeley, and the kids kept teasing me about the big grin I had on my face the whole concert! We were able to meet Yanni back by the tour bus after the concert, and when I told him who I was, he gave me a big hug and a kiss on the cheek. The kids were impressed!
In July 1992, I bought my grand piano - another event that was much more important than I realized at the time!
John Paris Concert:
On June 4th, John Paris and his wife, Sandy, arrived for his concert here that evening. As always, it was an incredible evening of great stories and even better music. My 11-year-old student, Lillie, and I opened the concert playing David Nevue and Neil Patton’s duet, “Clockwork,” and I think we did it proud! For the second half of the concert, John introduced his new accordion, which was actually his first instrument, not piano. We started off with a piano/accordion duet of “Moon River,” which was a lot of fun, and then John did the rest of the concert solo accordion. Here are some photos.
Later in 1992, I took a group of students to see David Lanz in concert at a theater in Moraga. We were able to meet him after the concert and I was able to hand him my interview questions since assistant kept losing his taped responses. He was Composer of the Month in 10/92.
I heard from Suzanne Ciani in fall of 1992 that she had moved to Marin County and would like to meet. I asked her if she would be willing to do a workshop with my students, and she agreed. This was HUGE! We did the workshop in February 1993, and twelve of my students played for her.
In 9/95, I took 45 students, parents, and friends to see David Lanz in Marin County.
In 4/96, my email address was added to the newsletter masthead for the first time. firstname.lastname@example.org. Remember AOL???
In fall 1996, pagers were becoming a real problem during lessons and I made it a policy that they needed to be in another room during lessons (for non-adult students). Remember pagers?
After several email exchanges with Bill Binkelman on a new age music forum and sending him the newsletter for a few months so he could see my writing, I became one of the original staff writers for the Wind and Wire print magazine, which founded. The first issue was April/May 1997. I wrote reviews and interviews there until it was discontinued two years later. In the meantime, I met a lot more artists and found that I enjoyed reviewing albums.
Brad Jacobsen’s Concert:
Brad Jacobsen came to Florence for his first concert here on June 21st. Brad’s wonderful stories brought his music to life, and the audience was very enthusiastic! Here are some photos from that evening.
In 9/97, Spencer Brewer became the first of the composers to make his third appearance at my house with my students. What an inspiration he was (and still is!). Some of the other composers who came to do workshops over the next ten years included David Lanz, David Nevue, Robin Spielberg, Kevin Kern, Laurie Z., Dax Johnson, Ira Stein, and Richard Carr. In order to give the artists a better introduction as well as to introduce many others, I was doing more frequent interviews with contemporary composers and featuring them as “Composer of the Month” in Pianotes.
In 10/97, virtual pets were becoming a major nuisance in lessons, so I banned those, too. Remember those? I’m starting to feel old!
In early 1998, David Lanz released an instructional video about playing his music, and I almost fell off the couch when I was listed in the “acknowledgments”!
The last print issue of Wind and Wire was issue 12, which was July/August 1999. The previous October, I had met John Nicholas from New York, who wanted to do an online review and interview site and asked if I wanted to be the principal reviewer for that. An intriguing idea! Once W&W was gone, I asked if John was still interested. He was, and we launched what would become SoloPianoPublications.com. I stayed with that site until early 2008.
In early 2001, one of my high school students made a noble attempt to put Pianotes online. It lasted a couple of months, but he didn’t have time to keep it up so we let it drop.
Also in early 2001, Real Music asked if I would be interested in editing a book of Kevin Kern’s sheet music that was being transcribed in Korea. It turned into a huge job, but also opened another major pathway in my career - sheet music proofing!
July Birthdays: We have another impressive list of musical birthdays coming up in July!
7/5: Dan Chadburn
7/6; Gary Clark
7/9: Ed Bonk
7/12: Brad Jacobsen
7/17: Jeff Pearce
7/21: Neil Patton
7/22: Michele McLaughlin and Greg Ryan
Happy Birthday to all of you!!!
About that same time in 2001, I got my first cell phone, but it almost never worked in Hercules!
On 9/10/01, I sent out an email to all of the composers that I knew, asking them as well as my students, what their definitions would be for “Music is…..” Yep - the day before 9/11! From that email, the idea was born to put together a compilation album to help raise funds for the victims of 9/11. The response was truly amazing and the result became The HeartAid Project
Our first workshop with David Lanz at my house was on 10/7/01. Quite a few of us went to see him play in Pleasanton the night before, and then David did the workshop on a Sunday afternoon. It was an inspiring weekend!
In the fall of 2003, the hard drive on my Mac G4 crashed, never to be resurrected. I lost all of my music trivia, all of my artist info - essentially many years’ work. I took the drive to see if could be restored and was told by the techs that they had never seen such a dead hard drive. And it certainly felt like a death in the family!
In early 2004, Mom and I took a vacation week in Florence, OR. David Nevue suggested meeting while I was up here. We did, and it was the beginning of a great friendship! Another turning point for me, although I didn’t realize it at the time!
In June 2004, I hosted the second and third Whisperings Concerts ever in my house! When David Nevue first started Whisperings, he only had a handful of pianist/composers on board and he was looking for some more artists. So, at David’s request, I sent out an email to many artists that I thought might fit the bill, and all of a sudden David’s mailbox started overflowing with submissions! That’s how I got involved with Whisperings, and I’m very happy that David has allowed me to stay on as a “guest.” Anyway, can you imagine having all of these people under your roof for a whole weekend?: David Nevue, Suzanne Ciani, Michael Dulin, Scott D. Davis, Steven Cravis, Laura Sullivan, Brenda Warren, and Janie Horton? What a blast!
In 3/07, David Nevue performed our last house concert in Hercules. Mom and I had found a home in Florence, OR, and I planned to continue teaching my students online. That was still a very new concept, and it didn’t go over as well as I thought it would. We made the move on June 30th. Five of the fifteen students who had said they’d take lessons online actually followed through, so that and not being to sell either of our houses in Hercules made it a scary time. No regrets about the move, though!
In October 2007, I started fooling around with a new website, not planning to do anything with it. Haha.
In 2/08, my relationship with SoloPianoPublications.com came to a crashing halt and I had to scramble to transfer my reviews and interviews from that site to my little one. What a nightmare that was for a few months! I decided to name the site MainlyPiano.com to give it more flexibility and to possibly allow for other reviewers.
So, that brings us to the April 2008 issue, which was issue 300! Next month, I’ll work forward from there!
Well, I think that’s it for the first issue on our new site! On to issue #400 next month! Have a happy and safe 4th, and enjoy the summer!