Category Archives: Performing

So you want to host a house concert…



Do you? It will be an awesome experience for you and your guests! My friend Amy and I just played our first one and we learned a lot.

Here’s what we would want in the future.

You: Invite your friends and family. Have them bring wine/apps or provide for them, along with providing the normal party things such as glasses, plates, napkins, etc. Have chairs and space set up for the concert. You’ll want to be able to have 20-30 people (or more, depending on your space) be able to attend and see/hear the concert.

We: Show up. Bring our own stands and  stand lights. Mingle with the guests. Play a concert, interact with the audience. You’ll learn about our music and enjoy it too. We will play for around 1 hour to 1 hour 15 minutes, with a short break. We’ll also get there beforehand and stay after and answer questions! This is a way to get up close and personal with musicians.

You: Provide a basket or jar for musician tips. We did our first one at a friend’s house for fun and to learn. The next one we will need to make some money or we can’t keep playing! If you find that gauche, talk with me. We can work it out. I’m sure your guests would be happy to chip in $10-20 each for a unique and enjoyable evening!


Here’s how the first one went. Woke up the morning of and worried that no one was attending (we helped out with inviting more than we will in the future, because it just added too much worry and stress, and honestly, you can’t keep inviting your friends over and over, we need MORE audience members, that’s also where YOU come in!)…decide it didn’t matter. Panic that everybody would hate the concert. Decided it didn’t matter because the hostess would love it and we’d have fun playing and whatever, it didn’t matter, who likes classical music anyway? (Spoiler, YOU do, you just might not know it yet.)

The evening arrived: We got to the house. We’d told people 7 pm, and by 7:15 there were probably 25 people. People showed up! Lots of people. They loved it! We started the program around 7:30 and went until close to 9 with a short break. We had a blast playing and talking with the audience, and loved the setting and the gorgeous house and the up close and personal interaction with everybody. Chamber music the way it was meant to be! And the audience was wonderful and attentive and friendly, and of course it’s more fun to play for people like that. These were friends! New and old friends. I had so much fun performing and talking with everybody.


I’d love to do it again! Look at how much fun we are having! Imagine having two musicians play in your living room. Impress your friends and family with your culture and connections! You can make an ordinary night extraordinary.


I’m sure I’ll learn more if I play another house concert, but that’s where I am right now. Advice? Interest? Suggestions? Comment or contact me.

Making Music

Sometimes I worry I go overboard trying to make concerts happen. But I love playing, and in today’s freelance world, you gotta be your own manager, booker, agent, etc. So that means working hard to book concerts, promoting them, not making much money, but having a great time while tearing your hair out with stress. Oh, and somewhere in there, you practice and rehearse in the midst of it all. Beats working 9-5 in a dark cubicle somewhere, or at least, that’s what I tell myself.

We had our last quartet concert of the season the other week. My friend April (who has since moved away, NOOOOOOOOO) took some pictures of me. Evidently I play despite having a broken neck.


We had a nice crowd and enjoyed the concert immensely. I attempted to bake a gluten free treat (Eliana, our violist, can’t eat gluten) and it was somewhat tasty even though it fell apart. I guess gluten free baking is HARD. After the show a few of us went to Schlafly Bottleworks for more food than we had at the reception. It was a nice night!

(We played Haydn “Joke” Quartet and Ravel’s Quartet.)

(I had a really hard time typing the quotations. Not sure what that means.)

Anyway, then Louie and I headed out of town camping. I think I’ll focus today’s blog post on concerts though, since I hear blog posts should have topics. Today’s topic: how I look when playing. (Spoiler alert, great hair, weird neck angles.)


Louie took some pictures of Amy and I rehearsing for tonight’s House Concert. (If you look carefully you can see him as well. )This I also where I teach, so there’s a small keyboard, a dog, and off to the side, more music than anyone should own, all as disorganized as possible after a few years of working nonstop, or at least, a few years of working OR being out of town getting attacked by bears in Colorado. I plan to try to organize my music a bit this summer—it’s past time, and the house needs help too.


Anyway! After tonight’s concert, I have no serious chamber music concerts on the schedule for months. There’s a few more on my flute trio’s retirement community series, but those are repeats. We’re recording saxophone and string quartet music, but the concert isn’t on the calendar, so I can say what I said. I plan to relax more, organize, and spend some quality time with Piazzolla’s the Four Seasons for November’s performance. I also plan to work out more often, ride my bike more, and try to actually relax. I’d love to be able to sleep past 8 am as well. It’s been a stressful year, but there isn’t much I’d change, so that either means I’m a sucker for punishment or I’m doing okay! Or that I’ve forgotten what happiness is? (Just kidding, I’m mostly thinking of our political situation.) I also have a list of grand ideas, such as starting a chamber music series, but I’m probably too tired and busy for that. Aren’t we all? Are you even still reading this post?

Unseasonably warm and support the Arts

It feels like spring is already here. I suspect (hope) it isn’t, for no other reason than I worry the mosquitoes will be unbearable this summer. I don’t know if that’s scientific or rational, but it feels right, and that’s the only thing that matters, right?

The spring semester is in full swing. I’m 5 weeks into my college teaching (out of 14 total weeks), I’m near spring break, I’m overwhelmed and stressed yet this week I’ve found more time than I really needed to get things done, which is great. I haven’t done as much exercising as I would like as the time has been awkward and perhaps, just perhaps, the lack of planning and wanting to get up earlier falls on me. I must do better!

I’ve got some fun performances coming up: Carmen with Winter Opera, and then the Ravel String Quartet. Solo wise I’m playing a piece or two on a recital at the end of April (Prokofiev Sonata, I believe, and maybe one short piece too, I’m only one performer on the concert.) And I’m learning Astor Piazzolla’s The Four Seasons to play with the Metropolitan Orchestra of St Louis in the fall, and I’m totally psyched and excited (and honored!). It’s going to be a blast.

I find myself fretting quite a bit over the news. I wrote a half dozen postcards yesterday and mailed them (the ones listed on this activism checklist) and I’ve been writing and faxing letters to my congresspersons. The news is stressful and worrisome, and while I’d love to hide my head in the sand and hope for the best, the fact is: I can’t afford to do that because others can’t afford to do that. I must stand up for those who cannot, and for those who need me to.  You may disagree, but that’s your right. My right is to call, write, protest, fax, and blog Smile

All the while playing music. Come see Carmen! Go see your local symphony or opera company. Support local artists: don’t JUST go to the big symphony or big opera company, go see a small group, a chamber group, a start-up troupe. Just like going to a mom and pop owned restaurant puts more money directly into their pocket, going to a concert by a small organization supports them more than going to the concert by the well established organization does! Don’t assume you won’t like it as much. Of course, I also attend the symphony here and go to Jazz at the Bistro, but I also try to see smaller groups (well, when my friends play, and when I’m not playing!) as those are important too. Don’t just attend Opera Theatre St Louis, go to Winter Opera and Union Avenue and more. Don’t just see the St Louis Symphony, go to the Metropolitan Orchestra of St Louis, the Arianna String Quartet, the Perseid (hah, that’s me). Go see local productions of musicals. Support artists, and support your heart and soul.

There’s my sales pitch. Maybe the federal government sees no need for the arts, but I think they are incredibly important on so many levels, ranging from emotional levels to economic levels. The arts boost the economy.

Oh, and I mention classical music mostly, but pick what you love best: visual art, musicals, plays, etc. It’s all great!

Apologies for the random post. I had a lot of ideas and typed them quickly. Publish now and off I go!

Taco Thursday

I’m still playing catch-up on life (and vacation blogging, I know, it’s seriously been like three months), and I’m still exhausted, but I am SO CLOSE. Sunday is the recital performance and then it’s all relaxing and unicorns and glitter from there on! I’m trying to stay positive and remember that ultimately, none of this matters and the sun is going to take over the earth anyway.

Last night after teaching Louie suggested we go to Olio for dinner rather than cook, so we went out for a nice meal. Olio is a place I’ve been a few times and they used to have this delicious whitefish salad that was absolutely to die for. Unfortunately it is gone from the menu. Our dinner was quite good but I’ll always miss that whitefish plate.

I’ve had the morning off, which means practicing. The joint of my right index finger is a little achy so I’ve been taking it easy. I am as ready as I’ll be at this point and it’s just a matter of relaxing. I’ve got the Bach memorized well, and I love playing it. I blame the weather for aches and pains—it feels like it’s going to rain, and we’ve finally got into some nice fall weather.

Many of you might follow me on Instagram, but if you don’t (even if you do) here are some pictures I took during the Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder run the past two weeks.




Here’s one of me in the pit. SELFIE.


I look a teensy bit creepy there, but that’s just how I look these days Smile

I know that Sunday after the performance I will feel great, and be relieved and all that, and that Monday I will be relaxed and get to sleep in and catch up on a variety of errands and all kinds of things, but until then, I’m just stressed to the max. Preparing for this concert has been much more challenging for me than I anticipated. I will probably have to give quite a lot of thought to things in the future, what went wrong, how I could have done things differently, all that.


To end on a lol note Smile

Bach thoughts

The weekend absolutely flew by! I was mostly working though Louie and I did get to enjoy a nice (but hot) bike ride along the Riverfront Trail on Monday morning.

I’m just popping in for a quick blog post. I know many of you are eagerly waiting to hear more about my travels, and I will, I will tell you!

But not now because I am still busy scheduling and rescheduling students, and mostly busy practicing for an upcoming recital/concert on October 2.

I’m performing Bach’s C Major Violin Sonata for the first time ever, and I’m totally overwhelmed and stressed by this. I’m playing from memory, as one must…at least that’s how I feel about it. The fugue is ridiculous and amazing…I remember the first time I ever heard it (I believe on a CD while I was in high school) and I was blown away by, how could music be like that? It was nothing like I’d ever heard before.

There are 3 Sonatas and 3 Partitas for Solo Violin by Bach, and I’ve performed most of all the other ones except for the C Major (Sonata no. 3), so it was time. And this concert is in a big church, so it will be very nice for Bach.

The thing about solo Bach is…well, there are millions of different ways to perform it, so there’s the fact of deciding how I want to play it, while worrying (and I know I shouldn’t but I do) that any other musicians in the audience will be judging me for playing inauthentically or NOT in the style that they think it should be. Plus worrying about memory and intonation and all of that.

And I’m doing all of this mostly for free. I teach and play gigs and weddings, but most of the “serious” concerts I play are basically for free. I do often get a small stipend, but when you consider all the practice and rehearsal that goes into them…not that I’m complaining, but just telling you.

It’s kind of ridiculous, except those are what I live for! Those concerts are WHY I play the violin, why I insist upon making a living doing this, and why I teach. Especially why I teach, so that my students can appreciate and love a piece of music as much as I do. And if I didn’t surround myself with music all the time, I wouldn’t be the musician I am.

If you aren’t a musician, or if you aren’t crazy this post might not resonate with you, but perhaps you can all appreciate the feeling of worrying about what everybody thinks while just really doing something that you care deeply about that takes up a lot of work…not for financial gain, but simply for yourself.

I do hard things because I can. I look forward to performing, I look forward to being done performing, and knowing that I did something difficult, something challenging, something that might seem pointless (I mean, really, how many times can one play Brahms and Bach and Beethoven…but really, the answer is an infinite number of times, and not everything we do with music has to be new and different and sometimes it can simply be something we love and if that’s the same thing that hundreds of other violinists loved, and maybe even played better, music isn’t a zero-sum game…)…

And what I sometimes forget: maybe somebody in the audience will hear the fugue for the first time, and they will be amazed and changed, just like I was. Just because hundreds or thousands of violinist have performed it, not everybody has heard it. There are people in the world who have never heard Dvorak’s American Quartet, or Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony, or perhaps (less likely, but perhaps) Mozart’s Eine Kleine Nachtmusik.

I’m not even sure where I’m going with this, except that I feel better having written it.

It’s definitely July

The heat. My god, the heat. (I’m not quoting Seinfeld, he doesn’t own the English language. I made that up on my own.)

We are under a heat advisory until Friday night! This is typical for St Louis. I did go for a short run this morning—I’d gotten new shoes on a steep discount on Amazon Prime Day and was glad they arrived just before I went out. I shouldn’t have waited until 10 am to run though, as it was a heat index of 99 already. I figure it’s good to get acclimated, but also good to take it easy, keep it short, and drink loads of water.

This summer is flying by. Much like life. We are one week away from going out of town for a few weeks. ROAD TRIP. Which was the big climax of the summer and I feel like the summer has been kind of a bummer. It’s no one thing, and honestly, there have been a lot of great moments and activities. But it’s just been a tough year, for a variety of reasons, and the summer hasn’t been any easier. Between personal and career stressors, people and animals being sick and dying, and the horrible things going on in the world and politically, it’s hard to stay positive! I do need to try to do better. Louie suggested we start meditating, and maybe he’s right. I’ve never been one for sitting still and thinking or whatever meditation is about, and maybe it would be good for me.

But as usual, lots of activities. Last week we went to the Cat Video Festival at the Museum of Contemporary Art. It was a fun evening, though the sound for the movies was way too loud! We laughed a lot, and enjoyed a photo booth beforehand.


I was a VIP. This was because I paid more for our tickets and got a reserved seat. It was annoyingly an obstructed view seat. Maybe I’m complaining too much—it was fun! I wish I had cats!


Mackenzie is doing a bit better though. Her hair is growing back in many places and she seems to be feeling a lot better too.


April took some nice photos during the Gateway Festival Orchestra concert last weekend. I had a solo, for which I was very excited about, until I got a giant nerve attack. I was taken aback by getting all shaky as I’ve performed a lot recently, and I do have solos with Winter Opera too! But I got really shaky and didn’t have any beta blockers left…I used to take them for auditions and stuff, but ran out a few years ago and never got another prescription since I thought I was fine. So now I’m not sure what to do. Again, maybe the meditation would help. I think I’ve been under a lot of stress, much of it self-inflicted, and it WAS a big crowd, and an orchestra of people who don’t know me well, and that I was wanting so hard to make a good impression on. Oh well! I think it was still okay, and if they want to judge me for having nerve issues, then fine. Judge me. Join the crowds.

Last night we went to dinner at a restaurant called Sheesh on South Grand. I loved the presentation, so beautiful! The food was delicious as well.


I’m off to practice for a bit before I teach. I am teaching until the night before we leave, so no rest for the weary!