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I am posting this as a benchmark, not because I think I'm playing very well yet.  The idea would be post a video every month for a ye...

Wednesday, December 12, 2018


I get to play in a piano recital today. The other students are mostly younger than me by about forty years.  I am playing Mompou's Música callada # 22 and a composition of my own. I think that my playing is far better than a year ago, when I probably wouldn't have played even in a kids' recital.  I was playing at a party the other evening and got a lot of compliments.  I am still not good in the sense of being able to play very difficult music, but I am good (not yet great) at executing easy music with sensitivity.  And what would you rather hear, someone playing a simple, beautiful piece beautifully or someone butchering a difficult piece? As I like to say, I have delusions of mediocrity.

Monday, December 10, 2018


I was listening to a cd of Keith Jarrett that I picked up at an estate sale for a buck. It is a solo album of standards, with a lot of sensitive dynamics and chord voicings.  I am sure I can hear it better because I now play piano better than a year ago. I can just hear things that I couldn't before, with more specificity and richness.

Sunday, December 9, 2018

The Concert

The concert was fun.  We sang arrangements of "Here we come a'caroling," "Deck the Halls," "Silent Night." A version of "Twinkle Twinkle."  "Stars" with a text by Sara Teasdale (Esenvalds). "Jessye's Carol." "Brightest and Best." Things like that.  And "Something like a star" by Randall Thompson.

Saturday, December 8, 2018


Here is my productivity tip.  Get up, have coffee and shower, whatever else. Do a few puzzles, and then open up a word document, a chapter of your book, and start working on it. Then stop.

See, you have been productive. It is 9 a.m. now. Days where this does not happen are not productive. Do this several times a week, then the week is a productive one, and the month.  

Thursday, December 6, 2018


Here is my idea: create a series of appendices to a book that, taken together, would be a book in itself. In other words, collect tangential subjects as you do an extended piece of research. Write a short essay or other genre (glossary) about each one.

Hornet's Haiku

Flamencology is a hornet's nest in many ways.  There aren't books in English about it that talk about it in musical terms straightforwardly. It is all filtered through sociological and anthropological discourse. The works in Spanish are more from the point of view of the aficionados themselves.  

There ought to be someone who writes about the lyrics of the cante as poetry. One guy I was reading recently said that they were haiku like.  Well, no, they are not, unless you just mean short.  I think I'm going to have to do it, at some point, since nobody else is going to.

There ought to be someone who writes about the major figures. Imagine if all the book on the shelf on jazz never really got around to talking about the music of Sonny Rollins or Mingus, Trane or Bird, Ella, or Sarah, or Billie.  You would think of that as odd, I think.

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

How to make friends

My new colleague A. asked to borrow my books and actually read one of them all the way through and complimented me on it, saying that she laughed out loud at the funny parts.  Often, we don't read each others' books and articles the way we should. Just saying she knows how to make friends in an academic environment.