Category: General

2016 Fear Less

2016 Fear Less

Here I am writing my first blog entry of 2016. I always hesitate to write anything because I often end up not completing the post or deciding in the end it isn’t worth publishing.

I confess, I am a fearful person. For as long as I can remember, I was always the smallest, and always scared. I guess that’s how I became the loudest. I needed and wanted to be heard. For all my bluster though, I was often terrified.

I think my loudness was to mask the terror I felt inside. My fear affected everything from doubting my abilities as a musician and artist, to not doing well in school, failing in sports and building copious amounts of social anxiety during my teenage years (and parts of my adult years too). Fear can stop you from living big parts of your life.

Fear doesn’t completely prevent me from performing and making music (thank goodness!) but it does dominate aspects of my career. To give you an example, it takes me forever to compose works. I am so terrified that the pieces I write will be so awful that I would never perform them in public. So why bother writing them? That’s a terrible way to live.

Ironically, I constantly preach to my voice and piano students to let go of their fear in order to be free to improvise without inhibition and to produce a beautiful relaxed sound and be creative.

As 2016 was approaching, I decided that this year, I would be fearless. Realistically I just want to fear less. I don’t want my fear to overcome my desire to do something that will enrich my life. Writing a blog post is a good example of something I’d like to be able to do without fear driving me to the brink of giving up.

My first “fear-less” act of 2016 is posting my very first video on Youtube. I am improvising on the piano. This is huge for me. I was on a 15 year hiatus from the piano. Just over 4 years ago I started studying and practicing the piano seriously again. I have finally come to terms with my classical training and my jazz improvising. I am now starting to find a balance with both. I love playing the piano. I love improvising. I realize that I don’t need to play in either a so called jazz or classical style. I just want to play music. I want to spontaneously create. I want to express myself in the most honest way that I can. I feel like now after so many years, I have found my voice

As this particular blog entry has taken almost one week to write, I have posted another video of myself improvising on toy piano. Over this year, I plan to post a video every week. I will do lots of improvising on the piano and voice. I will be doing some interviews with some incredible artists and I will sing a lot.

I hope that you will follow me on my journey to “fear-less” this year. I don’t know what I will discover about myself but I am genuinely excited to find out.

My First Video

My First Video

Ok, I did it.

I made my first video. This is a big deal for me since I haven’t ever posted a video of myself let alone one of me playing the piano.

For those who do not know, I was a classical pianist before I devoted my time to singing. I took a long hiatus from playing and performing on the piano. I am now back at it.

Stay tune for more!

Happy New Year

Happy New Year

Hello 2016!

I have big plans for you 2016. I am going to be fearless. That’s my mantra for this year.


Stay tuned!

Mark Murphy (b. March 14, 1932 – d. October 22, 2015)

Mark Murphy (b. March 14, 1932 – d. October 22, 2015)

I am saying goodbye to the great jazz vocalist, Mark Murphy. Mark passed away today.

Mark Murphy was the first vocalist that I heard who had a unique sound. A freedom in his voice that really inspired me to find that freedom in myself.

Many years ago, I attended a masterclass Mark was conducting at Berklee College of Music. I was impressed by his efficiency when using his voice. It sounds calculated but I assure you it wasn’t. I appreciated the advice that he gave each student. I also liked his candor when speaking. It was straight to the point. He talked a lot about how the body is used poorly when singing. I notice singers contort and move their bodies in ways that seem to hinder rather than help their performance. At times I know that I move around more than is necessary. It was helpful to hear a great artist like Mark Murphy tell it like it is.

Mark Murphy I will miss you greatly.

I Am Playing Carnegie Hall!

I Am Playing Carnegie Hall!

The title says it all folks. I am playing Carnegie Hall on March 25th, 8:00pm at the Weill Hall at Carnegie Hall.

Can I tell you that I’m excited? I am excited!! I hope you buy a ticket cause it’s going to be a blast!

See you in two weeks!

Buy tickets here

Shows To Check Out Before 2014 Ends!

Shows To Check Out Before 2014 Ends!

We are coming into our last two weeks of 2014 (holy crap!) There are some great performances that I highly recommend you all to go see.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014 8:30pm

Jesse Stacken‘s Helleborus CD Release Concert
Jesse Stacken – piano and compositions
Tony Malaby – saxophone
Sean Conly – bass
Tom Rainey – drums

Cornelia Street Café
29 Cornelia Street
New York, NY 10014

This show will be wonderful. Look at that line up! Jesse is a fabulous pianist who writes wonderful compositions. If you have a chance, check out his website here.

Friday, December 19, 2014, 7:30pm

Lyra Faculty perform at Tenri
Mu Phi Epsilon Founders’ Day Recital

Tenri Cultural Institute
43 W 13th St, New York, NY 10011

Akiko Sasaki – piano
Marc Szammer – violin
Andrew Janss – cello

This performance is going to be awesome. This trio will be performing the monstrous Rachmaninoff Élégiaque Trio No. 2, Op.9. (Akiko did a run through for me at my place many months ago. I thought my piano was going to fall apart!) A must see!

Saturday, December 20, 2014, 9:00pm

Jacob Sacks Quintet

Jacob Sacks – piano, compositions
Jacob Garchik – trombone
Ben Gerstein – trombone
Thomas Morgan – bass
Dan Weiss – drums

Cornelia Street Café
29 Cornelia Street
New York, NY 10014

I am totally bummed that I won’t be seeing this quintet on Saturday (holiday travel *sigh*) This quintet has been around for as long as I have been in NYC. This is a special group and should be experienced by everyone! Go check it out.

Friday and Saturday, December 26 and 27, 9:00pm

Open Loose

Tony Malaby – tenor saxophone
Mark Helias – bass
Tom Rainey – drums

Cornelia Street Café
29 Cornelia Street
New York, NY 10014

Look at the line up! Enough said…

Sunday,December 28th,2014, 7:00pm

Ras Moshe-Reeds & Flute
Kyoko Kitamura-Voice
Joe Gallant-Bass
Reuben Radding-Bass
Sean Conly-Bass

(8:30pm-Steve Gauci-Ken Filiano-Yoni Kretzmer-Michael Wimberly)

Why Not Jazz Room
14 Christopher St. NYC

For you free improvising jazz folk out there, this performance will be up your alley. With three bass players in the band, it’s gonna get deep. Check out the next band after Ras’ project. (I worked with Michael Wimberly this past semester up in Vermont and he is awesome!)

Tuesday, December 30, 2014, 8:30pm

Tom Rainey Trio

Tom Rainey – drums
Mary Halvorson – guitar
Ingrid Laubrock – tenor saxophone

Cornelia Street Café
29 Cornelia Street
New York, NY 10014

Tom Rainey is one of my favorite drummers and musician and Mary and Ingrid are superb. Go and check it out.

Ok, that’s all folks. I hope to catch one of these before I go on holidays and I hope you check some of them out too. These performances are not to be missed.

Enjoy the music and happy holidays!!

December’s Artist Feature: Dana Lyn

December’s Artist Feature: Dana Lyn

Once again, I have dropped the ball and didn’t quite make my November artist feature. However, I have managed to put together this month’s feature on the amazingly talented violinist, pianist, and composer Dana Lyn. I have known Dana for over a decade and for a short period we were also housemates. (Dana taught me how to truly appreciate vegetarian soup!) I have seen and heard incredible music whenever Dana is involved.

Dana moved to NYC in 2000 and has gone through some interesting transformations during her 15 years here. When I met Dana, I knew her only as an Irish fiddler, which was her main focus until about 2007. After that, Dana began performing music by Bach, writing string arrangements for various music groups, and composing string quartets and other original music. Dana’s vast artistic versatility has made her an incredible force in the NYC music scene.

Dana’s main current musical project is her band, Mother Octopus, which performs Dana’s original compositions. This band has been in existence since 2011 under other names such as Yeti Camp and Aqualude but the members have always been cellist Clara Kennedy, guitarist Kyle Sanna, drummer Vinnie Sperrazza and multi-wind instrumentalist Mike McGinnis. Another important project is her duo with Kyle Sanna. A new recording of this duo will be coming out in the near future following their debut recording called, “The Hare Said a Prayer to the Rainbow and Followed the Fox Down the Hole” (2011). This last CD is a wonderful listen and a top pick for my husband. Another recording worth mentioning is “Bach Reformed” by Dana and Rob Moose (who plays tenor guitar and mandolin on it). The repertoire comes from J.S. Bach’s Suites for Unaccompanied Cello and the Sonatas and Partitas for Violin Solo, with the material arranged as duets.

Dana also has a project with actor Vincent D’Onofrio called “Slim Bone Head Volt”. This work is based on D’Onofrio’s journal entries which Dana creates music for. This duo will be releasing their first recording on March 3, 2015.

The string quartet Brooklyn Rider commissioned Dana to compose a work called “Maintenance Music” for their Brooklyn Rider Almanac. Dana also wrote eight string quintet arrangements of traditional Irish fiddle music for the Apple Hill Quartet which has a recording due out next year.

One more thing to mention is that this past summer Dana was musical director of Family Album, a musical by the Tony award winning team Stew and Heidi Rodewald.

You can see Dana perform with Mother Octopus Sunday, December 14th, 8:00pm at the Firehouse Space in Brooklyn. She will also be at The Living Room with Matt Kanelos on December 17 ay 8:00pm. Slim Bone 7ead Volt will be at Joe’s Pub on December 20 at 7:00pm to close out Dana’s performances for the year. If you have the opportunity to check out Dana’s performances, I recommend that you go and see all the shows to really experience the breadth of Dana’s musical talent. You will not be disappointed.

October’s Artist Feature: Elena Camerin

October’s Artist Feature: Elena Camerin

I missed out on my September submission (too many things happening at once!) and now I am trying to get October’s feature in before it gets too late. This month’s feature is the talented vocalist, Elena Camerin.

Elena Camerin is a vocalist and musician who not only excels in singing but is a gifted teacher with children, especially children with special needs. I had the great fortune of meeting Elena in 2008 (when she finally started living in NYC full time). Elena and I had a mutual friend, the late Bob Bowen and after a show, Elena asked if she could study with me. Well, the moment she started her first lesson, I said, “What are you doing asking for a lesson? You are already amazing!” That was the beginning of a wonderful friendship that has lasted to this day. Elena is from Venice, Italy and she is a fabulous cook. I love cooking with Elena and I always ask her to make a traditional Italian dish. Once, Elena made bruschetta which was heavenly! The food I like to give to Elena is my homemade kimchi (love the culture food swap).

Elena’s main musical project is with guitarist, ukulele player Khabu Doug Young (Khabu also happens to be her husband). Also, Elena, Khabu and I play together every first Sunday of the month at a lovely cafe in Brooklyn called Lark Cafe. We sing jazz standards for little kids and their families, which is a total blast.

Elena is also a teacher for Musical Explorers, a preschool music program I direct in Ditmas Park. Elena really found her calling when she started working with little children but she also realized that she really wanted to work with children with special needs, specifically children with autism. She currently works for a learning center called, Atlas Foundation in Manhattan and volunteers with one special girl on Randall’s Island.

You can hear Elena perform with Khabu this Saturday, October 18th at the Beverley House Concert in Ditmas Park, Brooklyn and on November 2, at Lark Cafe.

Elena is a warm, creative and fun loving human being. I am so blessed to know someone as lovely as she. I hope that you get a chance to see Elena perform—it’s a truly wonderful experience.

July’s Artist Feature: Adriane Giebel

July’s Artist Feature: Adriane Giebel

July’s artist feature is filmmaker Adriane Giebel: a multi-talented artist who is good at so many things it hardly seems fair. Adriane is one of the smartest women I know and is a film maker, producer, video editor, photographer, writer, and a bad-ass cook and marathon runner to boot (like I said, hardly seems fair).

One of my favorite things to do with Adriane is cook and eat. Adriane is a great appreciator of good eats and we love a good pork bun from Momofuku when we get the chance. I even made the Momofuku pork buns from scratch a few times and once Adriane, my husband and I devoured as many as possible in one sitting.

Adriane has an impressive list of accomplishments. A BA in Visual and Environmental Studies (i.e., Art), with focus on Filmmaking from Harvard; a MA in Cinema Studies from NYU; a producer on Michael Moore’s ” CAPITALISM: A LOVE STORY, as well as on John Walter’s THEATER OF WAR, which starred Meryl Streep and Tony Kushner, and SOME ASSEMBLY REQUIRED, a documentary for Sundance Channel and Court TV, which featured Reverend Billy, Katha Pollitt, Cass Sunstein, and a cast of thousands of protestors.

Lately Adriane has been directing projects for the Prospect Park Alliance,
Planned Parenthood, the National Retail Federation, and the Tyra Banks TZONE at the Lower Eastside Girls Club. Her clients in the fashion world include Tory Burch, Max Mara, Banana Republic, o2nd, Esprit, Maybelline, Victoria’s Secret, Nine West, J Crew, Anne Klein, and Pamela Love.

A short film that Adriane has edited for director Marie Hartness, AFTER ELLA, just screened at Cannes this year, and is still showing on the festival circuit and is currently editing a new short for Marie, which will be released this fall.

Also, Adriane is editing a feature length documentary on Providence, Rhode
Island for directors Tobias Perse and Randy Krallman, which is projected to be at festivals in 2015.

Adding to all the projects and accomplishments this wonder woman has achieved, she also ran the Boston Marathon this past April!

Adriane is someone I greatly admire and a lovely person. Definitely check out Theater of War and Capitalism and see the wonderful work she has been a part of.

I look forward to our next Scrabble match, Adriane!

June’s Artist Feature: Benjamin Scheuer

June’s Artist Feature: Benjamin Scheuer

This month’s artist feature is the remarkable and talented song-writer, guitarist, singer and actor Benjamin Scheuer. I have known Ben for more than a decade and seen this wonderful musician grow into the amazing talent that he is now.

Ben is a foodie. It is guaranteed that if Ben hosts a party, there will be incredible food to be had. When Ben came to my child’s first birthday party I was in disbelief watching Ben continuously eating the fish tacos I had set out that day. I take that as a compliment.

Ben has a remarkable story and it feels challenging to try and tell it in a few paragraphs.

Originally from Westchester, NY Ben settled himself in NYC in 2005 and by then had already recorded with his bands, The Capability and Call the Cops. Soon there after he recorded with his other band Escapist Papers (2006) and collaborated with fellow songwriter and bassist Geoff Kraly in Lady Clown (2007).

In 2007 Ben wrote an original musical with librettist Zoe Samuel called “Jihad!: The Musical” that premiered at the Fringe Festival in Glasgow followed by the premiere in London in 2010. Also, in that summer, Ben was invited to be part of the Johnny Mercer Songwriter’s Workshop. Things were going strong and Ben was continuing his artistic pursuits until the unexpected happened. In 2011 Ben was diagnosed with stage 4 Hodgkins Lymphoma. He underwent six months of chemotherapy and as of now I am so happy to say, is cancer free. During and after cancer treatment Ben began to record his sophomore recording with Escapist Papers called “The Bridge”. A video was made for the track, “The Lion” (which yours truly sang additional vocals for) has received four international awards for best video. You can view this amazing video here.

Ben was invited to be part of Lincoln Center’s “Songbook Series” (Broadway’s Future) in January 2012. During this experience Ben realized that a story needed to be told. In the following year, Ben was invited to the Goodspeed Theater and there he met director Sean Daniels. Sean and Ben began to develop Ben’s storybook and has now become the musical called “The Lion.”

Ben performed the early draft of “The Lion” (which at the time was still called, “The Bridge”) at the Fringe Festival in 2013 and received the Best Lyrics award for “The Bridge” and in the same year was awarded the ASCAP Foundation’s Cole Porter Award for Song Writing. (On top of being a great song writer, Ben is an incredibly generous individual; he donated the funds from his award to the Leukemia Lymphoma Society).

You can see Ben perform his new musical “The Lion” at the Manhattan Theater Club now until July 13th. Tickets are only $30 and I urge all of you to see this moving and wonderful performance. During cancer treatments, photographer Riya Lerner did a weekly documentation of Ben’s journey along with Ben’s journal entries and created a book with graphic designer, Lia Strasser called “Between Two Spaces” which will be available at All sales will be donated to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.

Benjamin Scheuer is earnest, charming, fun loving person whose generosity is moving and humbling. He is a musical force to be reckoned with and I am so honored to call him a colleague and friend. Go see The Lion everyone. You will not be disappointed.

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