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Pianotes #455 -
March 2021
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I hope you had a great February! As promised, I am including the second installment of my story in this issue and have decided to stretch it out to three parts. I should be able to do Part 3 for the April issue. It's really been fun tripping down Memory Lane via old issues of Pianotes and my vast collection of photos! It felt a little self-indulgent when I started, but the feedback has been really gratifying, so thanks for reminiscing with me over my 40 years as a piano teacher and all the various paths that has taken me! If you missed the first installment, it's in the January issue.
I forgot a couple of important items in the January issue, which brought us up to October 2001:

My dad passed away in 10/98. He and Mom were living in Oakland, CA in the house my grandparents had built in the late 1920's. The house had never been completely emptied in all those years, so it was quite a challenge! In November 1999, Mom sold that house and bought a "duet" (duplex) about a block from me in Hercules, CA. It was a great arrangement that lasted until we bought our house and moved to Florence, OR in 2007.
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Dax Johnson in Portland, OR 10/04

#192 3/99: The late Dax Johnson came to Hercules in March 1999 to do a house concert. I had reviewed his Merciful Dwelling album for SoloPianoPublications.com and also interviewed him for SPP and Pianotes. Dax was only 23 at the time, and had spent several months driving around the Pacific Northwest with a piano in his van, playing on the streets “of every major and minor city in the Northwest from Seattle to Boise.” It was a fascinating meeting made even more significant because he brought with him a couple of CDs by a pianist he really liked but that I was not familiar with. Who was that? DAVID NEVUE!!!

#224 (11/01): David Lanz came to Hercules for a house concert and a student workshop the first weekend of October, and my opening comments for that issue of Pianotes included:
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David Lanz and Kevin Kern in Hercules 10/01

"I can't imagine anything more healing than David's heartfelt music plus his warm and gentle sense of humor. That afternoon and evening deeply affected me with the power of music to help us rise above the terrors of the world and to let us find peace for even a few moments. No one really knows what lies ahead, but taking the time to play and listen to some great music can let your mind and heart breathe for at least a little while." Hmmm. Seems kind of appropriate for right now, too, doesn't it? Making the workshop even more incredible, composer/pianists Kevin Kern, Jeff Bjorck, Janie Horton and Patrick Lee Hebert were there as well, and Kevin and David improvised a couple of duets. What an amazing experience that was!

#241 (4/03): I was doing most of my artist interviews on the phone, recording them on my answering machine (remember those?) and then transcribing them. It was a long process, but got some great results. I believe Michael Jones was the first artist I interviewed by phone.

#243 (6/03): Student/composer workshops were becoming a regular thing, and we had a second workshop with Kevin Kern in May, the day before Mom and I went on an AARP tour of New Orleans and some of the surrounding area. What a great week that was!

#248 (11/03): The hard drive of my computer crashed. I thought I had all of my files backed up, but I didn't. I lost all of my Composer of the Month stories, my music trivia files, my library files (all of my sheet music and books were listed), my contacts list, interviews, everything. I took the computer (a Mac G4) to several recovery places, and they said the drive was as dead as any they had seen. I had a LOT of work to do to get things back up to speed with the new iMac I bought. Ugh! I wouldn't wish a crash like that on ANYONE!
New Reviews: I had a huge amount of proof-reading work come in during February, so I didn't get as many album reviews written as I'd hoped. Some of the reviews I wrote were too far in advance to post yet, so there should be quite a few new reviews for you coming in March. I reviewed some great music from several genres of music, Michael added a new album review, and there is a new songbook review, so click here and see what's new!
#252 (3/04): I did my first interview with David Nevue. The first Whisperings Solo Piano Radio broadcast had been in 8/03, so it was just getting started.
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Whisperings in Hercules 7/04! From the left, Steven Cravis, Michael Dulin, Suzanne Ciani, David Nevue and Janie Horton

#254 (5/04): Mom and I took our first vacation trip to the Oregon Coast. Where did we stay? FLORENCE! David Nevue drove in from Eugene and met us for lunch. We talked about plans to do the second and third Whisperings concerts at my house in Hercules.

#257 (8/04): The Hercules Whisperings Concerts were July 17 and 18 at my house. The lineup was more than impressive: Suzanne Ciani, Michael Dulin, Scott D. Davis, Janie Horton, Steven Cravis, Brenda Warren, Laura Sullivan, and of course, David Nevue. Each concert featured five artists with David Nevue and Michael Dulin playing for both. What a houseful of talent that was, and what a joy to meet more artists I had only corresponded with at that point!
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Second night of Whisperings in Hercules. From left: me, Brenda Warren, Scott D. Davis, Laura Sullivan, Michael Dulin, David Nevue.

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My all-time favorite photo of Scott D. Davis!

#260 (11/04): Mom and I took another trip up the Oregon Coast in October, but this time we stayed farther north. Part of the reason for the trip was to go to the next Whisperings concert in Portland. This time it was Michael Allen Harrison, Dax Johnson, Alexx Carnathan, John Nilson and David Nevue.

#261 (12/04): Brian Kelly was our guest artist at my student recital and played four of his pieces.

#263 (2/05): Mom and I traveled to Birmingham, AL for a Whisperings concert and a vacation in the South, which I had never visited. The concert featured David Nevue, Michael Dulin, Scott D. Davis, George Skaroulis and Philip Wesley. Remind me to tell you the story about Mom and me riding in the back of a police car in Montgomery, AL! (We couldn’t find our rental car! If only I had had my camera handy!!!)
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Whisperings in Birmingham, Alabama 2/05. From the left: Philip Wesley, George Skaroulis, Michael Dulin, Scott D. Davis, David Nevue.

#273 (12/05): I did my first interview with Greg Maroney. I knew we had a lot in common when I saw a photo on his website of him playing the piano barefoot!

New Interview: I have had the pleasure of interviewing a fascinating group of artists, but this interview is unique in that Robert Thies was the Gold Medal Winner of the 1995 Prokofiev International Piano Competition in St. Petersburg, Russia - he and Van Cliburn are the only two American pianists to win the Gold in a Russian piano competition (Van Cliburn won in 1958). Robert has also released a series of three improvised albums with Croatian flutist, Damjan Krajacic called Blue Landscapes. Robert's story is compelling and I feel honored that he shared it with me - and with you. Enjoy! Click here to go to the interview.

Next up for interviews are Joe Bongiorno, Jonathan Sprout, and Gregg Karukas. I hope to have all three ready for the April issue of Pianotes.
#274 (1/06): My 25th anniversary as a piano teacher!!!

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Laurie Z. 2000

#276 (3/06): Pianist/composer Laurie Z and I had become very close friends. During the time that I knew her, she had met the love of her life, married him, and moved to Camano Island, WA. Michael had had a massive heart attack the previous year and Laurie died of lung cancer that she blamed on the air quality in Southern CA - one of the reasons they had moved to WA. What a loss!

#277 (4/06): Another amazing event in Hercules! I took a group to a Whisperings Concert in Vacaville that featured David Lanz, David Nevue and Scott D. Davis. Jeff Bjorck flew up from Southern CA to go with us, and then all of the artists (plus a few) came to my house the next day for a workshop with David Lanz and my piano students.
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Scott D. Davis, David Lanz, David Nevue, and Jeff Bjorck 4/06

#284 (11/06): Mom and I had taken another vacation in Florence. It was raining one of the last days we were here, so, just for fun, I called a realtor and asked if we could see a few houses. We really liked what we saw, but moving was out of the question since I had been helping one of my neighbors who was having a rough time physically. She lived across the street from me and had been watching my house and feeding my cats while we were gone. I called her a few times while we were away, and everything seemed fine. When I got home, something felt very wrong. Her car was in the driveway, but the TV was off. I called her a couple of times and got no answer. I called the police and asked them to go in her house with me. I had a key, but didn’t want to go in alone. She had had a heart attack and died that morning. I have always found the timing very odd, as it removed one of my biggest reasons for not moving.
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Scruffy and me on the beach 3/07

#288 (3/07): Mom and I took a little longer vacation to explore Florence, OR more thoroughly and to look at houses, seriously considering a move since Mom didn't want a two-story house anymore and the pull to the Oregon Coast was so strong. We looked at about 35 different houses while we were here and agreed on the same three. One had a limit of two pets per household, so that was out. One had a very steep driveway that drained down into the garage, requiring a sump pump, and Mom had already "been there, done that," so that left just the house we bought. Escrow closed in June, and we left the Bay Area on June 30, arriving in Florence about 2 AM on July 1. So much about the move went wrong - especially not being able to sell either of our houses in Hercules - but we've never regretted the move AT ALL. After the movers had dropped my dresser while loading it into the moving van (the piano was already in the truck), I was SO relieved when the piano made it into the new house unscathed!

#291 (6/07): I thought I had fifteen students lined up to continue piano lessons online and was wrapping things up in Hercules. I was still doing most of the writing on SoloPianoPublications.com.
Future House Concerts: I guess I scared a lot of people when I mentioned that I might not be able to continue the house concerts once the pandemic restrictions are lifted due to a big reduction in parking places. I've since spoken to several people about it, and it seems that we should be able to find parking on the two side streets in Sandpines as well as in my lot next door and our driveway. If needed, I think we can set up a shuttle of sorts for any parking that is too far from my house for some folks to walk. It gets awfully dark in here when the sun goes down, but I think we'll be able to make this work. I'll keep you posted, but I still haven't scheduled any concerts for this year.
#292 (8/07): (There was no issue in July while we got settled.) I had started doing online lessons regularly, but only five of the fifteen students who said they were going to continue lessons online followed through. I was starting to panic, as no one was even looking at our Hercules houses. We decided to rent them until the market improved.
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Michael Hoppe´ and me Florence, OR 9/07

#294 (10/07): Michael Hoppe and his wife were passing through Florence on their way back up to Portland, and we had lunch together. I had also set up a small website, mostly to put out info about online lessons and sheet music proof-reading - a very major development!

#298 (2/08): My slightly edited opening paragraph for this issue:

"January has proven to be another month of major changes for me, but I guess I might as well change everything in my life and then move on! These changes will have no effect on piano lessons, but since the newsletter is now going to more artists than students, this will be a useful place for me to explain (as far as I can figure out) what happened at Solo Piano Publications. As most of you know, I am no longer with SPP. About mid-month, I had an email from someone asking me why my reviews on SPP were being re-directed back to my website. I thought it must have been a mistake, so I emailed the owner/webmaster of the site to let him know of the “mistake.” He wrote back that it was not an error and to get ready to have all of my writing removed from the SPP site (about 95% of the content on the site is mine). I asked if he was going to discontinue the site, and he said he was going to continue it without me. I asked why, and the response was, “You can’t have your cake and eat it, too.” He told the other reviewer on the site that I was endorsing “products and services” that were not in the best interest of his business. Well, that’s about as clear as mud, too. This is not the first time I was asked to leave SPP, but I have always fought back.... This time, I decided it just wasn’t worth it to fight and walked.... My site as I have it now is fine for a small site, but I need to expand it a lot and have room to grow, so I am rebuilding it with more sophisticated software and a new, easier-to-remember domain name. My .Mac site will be up and functional with lots of new additions while I get the new site ready to launch. I hope to have it online by the time I write the March newsletter, and will have all the details then. As much of a shock being “fired” (can you be fired from an unpaid job?) was, I think it is a blessing in disguise. I can now be as creative as I want with the site and expand it in a lot of directions to incorporate more of my artwork and photography as well. Growth always comes when you are knocked out of your comfort zone, so after writing for SPP for about nine years, this will certainly be a change! I’m looking forward to the challenge! Reviews and interviews will continue as before, so keep the CDs coming!"

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Setting up for online piano lessons in Florence, OR

#299 (3/08): After much deliberation, I decided to name my new site "MainlyPiano.com" at least in part because I wanted to review non-solo piano albums as well as solo piano.

#300 (4/08): The issue was late because after the move and the chaos of getting the new website set up, I got the sickest I'd been in 28 years and had been out of commission for a couple of weeks. I think I was mostly just exhausted, and about all I did was sleep.

#301 (5/08) was the last print issue of Pianotes. The expense of printing and postage just didn’t seem practical anymore, so it became a monthly feature of the fledgling MainlyPiano.com.
March Birthdays: Here is a partial list of the March birthdays coming up:

3: Mark Kroos
7: Behdad Bahrami & Isadar
9: Christopher Boscole & Tijs Ven
10: Matthew Shell
14: Jim Ottaway
15: Zachary Bruno
16: Brian Kelly & Eric Bikales
17: William Ogmundson
20: Patrick Lee Hebert & An Vedi
21: Heidi Breyer & Summer Swee-Singh
22: Michael Bohne
23: Bob Adern
24: Paul Spaeth
26: Chad Lawson & Mark Pinkus
28: Catherine Marie Charlton & Steven C (Anderson)
29: Kris Baines
30: Trine Opsahl
31: my brother, Loren Oakden-Parsons
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Louis Landon performing the first house concert in
Florence, OR 10/08

At that point, there were a few more than 800 reviews on the site and about 125 Artist Pages. (There are currently more than 3100 reviews and 1032 Artist Pages!!!!)

In July 2008, Michael Debbage left Solo Piano Publications to join me at MainlyPiano.com. He’s been a great asset to the site with connections to different artists and a somewhat different point of view from mine. Although he hasn’t been as prolific the past few years, he’s still very much a part of the site and I appreciate his contributions!

Louis Landon performed the first house concert here on October 13, 2008.

David Lanz did the second house concert here in December 2008.
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Joe Bongiorno and Rebecca Oswald 5/09

The end of March 2009, I was diagnosed with breast cancer, which turned everything upside down for awhile. Thankfully, the tumor was caught very early and the surgery was successful. It was a very traumatic experience, but everything turned out okay.

In May 2009, Apple Computer discontinued the web software I was using (.Mac) and I had to change everything over to a new program.

In September 2009, I received another email from Apple saying that the software I was using for the site was becoming obsolete. That meant another overhaul of the site to the new format - this time to iWeb.

More next month!!!
Whew! I hope you enjoyed all that! Wishing you a safe and productive March with lots of smiles and great music! This month's closing photos are mostly hints of spring around the corner in Florence, OR with a couple shots of Pepper, too!


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