Friday Favorites

Happy Friday! 

Everyone seems to be in full-on holiday mode now.  Our tree is up, cards are arriving from friends and family (I do love a holiday card, don’t you?) and the annual Christmas Concert in Bermuda, Joy to the World is happening over this weekend.  That’s where you’ll find me.  Otherwise, I’ll be sending off the last of the gifts, doing some shopping and spending a little extra time at the gym to counteract last night’s Eggnog social! What about you?  Do you have a favorite holiday tradition or are you counting the seconds until it’s all over?  Either way, here are a few entertaining Friday Favorites for your reading and shopping pleasure this weekend!

Have you heard of The Melodica Men?  They are hilarious.  Here they are, playing The Nutcracker

If you have company coming for the holidays and need to spruce the place up a little bit, Target is having a Big 25% off Home Sale.  Use the code GIFT.

They have great artwork by Kate Pugsley

Help your guests keep warm with these pretty color block throws.

And these carafes are great, whether you’re serving hot cider at a party, or morning coffee for a houseful of guests.  

Remember Festivus?  Do you celebrate?  

this commercial still gets me every time I watch it.  The life-changing effects of giving a child the gift of music lessons. 

I have recently discovered the perfection of the jumpsuit as replacement for the concert gown.  They are easy, comfortable, flattering on all body types, and you won’t be worried about tripping over any dress hems while walking on stage (one of my biggest nightmares).  Here are a few good ones:

by Jonathan Simkai, Trina Turk, Solace London, and Hallston

Check out this guide to hanging out in Providence, RI during the holidays from fellow blogger Jess Kirby’s site. 

Some very good news! Violinist Rachel Barton Pine is launching a major new project dedicated to highlighting and promoting music by Black composers, including an 8-volume series of sheet music books for violin (with similar books for other instruments in the plans).  This has been a lifelong passion of Rachel’s for most of her life, and I’m so happy to see this come to fruition! Check out this article about it all from Strings Magazine.

For my Boston readers: Here is THE concert listing site for the city.  Do you have “attend a holiday concert” on your bucket list, but can’t afford the pricey Pops ticket, and your pink tutu is at the dry cleaners?  There are literally dozens and dozens of fantastic concerts happening around the city over the next few weeks.

ICYMI: Some posts from the past couple of weeks:

Finding Our Tribe as Classical Musicians

Gift Guide for the person who HATES the cold: or a “how to survive winter” guide.

How to Balance Practicing & Homework

Spotlight Series: Tracy Friedlander

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cheers! and have a great weekend, everyone!  

-Kate

 

Gift Guide for the person who HATES the cold: or a “how to survive winter” guide.

I grew up in Chicago, and then I moved to Boston, where I spent the majority of my adult years before moving to Bermuda.  I hated winter.  Passionately.  I didn’t like being cold, and I was ALWAYS cold.  One year it occurred to me that I wasn’t really doing it right, and I was spending 1/3 of every year being cranky and miserable.  I learned to love the traditions of winter–rewarding myself with a hot chocolate when I went to dig out the car, investing in a good down coat and some other cold-winter gear, and trying to take a cue from mother nature and slow down a bit.  It worked. I actually started to look forward to winter’s arrival (though, let’s be honest here, I also promptly found myself a boyfriend who lived in Bermuda).  Anyway….. here are a few of my favorites.  I hope that you all have a wonderful season full of warm bowls of steaming soup, roaring fires and toasty knitwear.  Now go pour yourself a cup of cinnamon tea, curl up in this and read on.

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Books to inspire you to hunker down and get your cozy on:

Cookbooks: On Baking Bread, from Molly Yeh (she went to Juilliard, ya know!), or some Vegetarian Comfort Food

Hygge Books: On basic winter-survival, family traditions, or finally learn how to knit

And to help dream of sunnier weather:

Gardening books , India Hicks’s Island House is amazing! or just to plan a trip.

These lights are supposed to really help with those winter blues!

I suppose the most obvious thing would be for them to travel to a warmer climate!  Target just came out with a new travel collection that I am kind of obsessed with right now.  The suitcases are great, but the packable backpack is perfect for when you’re traveling for a concert and you need to wear your instrument on your back, BUT, you know you’re going to want to take advantage of a nice day hike while you’re there?

But the best way to get through a cold and brutal winter is to embrace it and arm yourself accordingly.

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Shearling slippers are a must.  The ultimate in coziness.

Crawling into a bed made up with flannel sheets is the BEST when it’s cold out!  Some simple ones, a more seasonal set, or these super festive ones (for you or the kiddos).

If I had this hat, I would spend my entire days frolicking in the snow.  Of course, if I could afford that hat, I’d be in Fiji. these earmuffs are a bit more reasonable!

Keep your hands and toes warm–for skiing, winter hikes, or just the daily commute.

Go snowshoeing and then warm up with some hot cocoa!

When I was living in Boston I slipped on ice and broke things (hand, finger, wrist) 3 times in 6 years.  Then I got some Yaktrax, and now I give them to everyone I care about.  Game.Changer.

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Happy Thanksgiving!

Wishing all of you the Happiest Thanksgiving Weekend.  May your cranberries be canned (yes!) and your turkey not be burnt to a crisp. Here are a few of our more popular recent posts, in case you need a break from the game, an escape from nosey (well-meaning?) relatives, or just a little “alone” time over the next few days.

-Kate

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Holiday Gift Guide for Musicians

How to Make a Supplemental Audition Recording

Holiday Gift Guide for Your Child’s Music Teacher

Spotlight Series: Crushing Classical’s Tracy Friedlander

Turning a Funk into Your Next Breakthrough

How to Learn a Piece of Music Once You’ve Left School

Secrets of Effective Practicing

Ten Things I Wish I had Known When I was Taking Auditions

The $100 Bill

Teaching According to The Four Tendencies

turkey

(Sorry, little buddy!) 

Friday Favorites: Holiday Edition! Gifts For the Musician in Your Life

Happy Friday! This weekend is the last sane weekend before the HOLIDAYS begin, isn’t it? I’m in Boston, battling snow and cold (and writing Xmas cards).  Tomorrow I am going to see my former teacher perform the Elgar Concerto in Providence, and on Sunday I am playing a trio concert with some good friends.  It’s been a great week of teaching, rehearsing, playing concerts and seeing tons of friends, but I’m excited to get back to some warm weather next week!  Here is the first Gift Guide of the season–just in time for next week’s Black Friday sales! So start planning ahead! This one is for the musician in your life-whether they are a serious student or a professional, here are all of the things that make our lives easier (and nary a treble clef earring in sight!!)

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1 Tis the season for dry weather, and protecting instruments is super important. These rubber and sponge humidifiers are lifesavers. violin  viola  cello  bass   woodwind

2. This mug warmer!  There is nothing like knowing that you can keep practicing as long as you need to without worrying that your coffee/tea/hot chocolate is getting cold.  (priorities, people!).  I have two.  They are genius.

3. Hand warmers!  for before concerts, auditions, when you’re walking from the car into a lesson in the winter.  We can’t play well when our fingers are cold, and they make great stocking stuffers!

4. This travel steamer I got this one before I went to Seattle, and it was perfect.  Compact and easy to pack, but really got the job done to take wrinkles out of concert attire quickly and easily.

5. a beautiful coffee mug There is something about being a musician and loving coffee and loving beautiful things.  So a beautiful coffee vessel is always a winner.

6. Some books:  This one I cannot recommend highly enough.  If you have a musician in your life that has not read/done this book, be their hero and get it for them.  I talked more about it in my last post about creative breakthroughs.  Or if fiction is more their thing, this one about a concert pianist on the road is like reading a recurring nightmare that we have all had.  And for some practical career advice, this one is a must-read.

7. Leatherwood Rosin is #stringplayergoals. It’s a bit on the pricey side, but their bespoke rosin “recipes” are pretty dreamy.

8. Organizing all of the different aspects of a musician’s life can be difficult.  Keeping teaching hours from rehearsal hours to practice time to life admin time.  It took me a LONG time to find a day planner that reflected how my “crazy musician’s life” worked.  Ink & Volt makes them, and they come in a variety of colors and options.

9. I was looking to borrow a stand light for a recent concert and when I asked a bunch of my colleagues in Boston, Not one person had a working one!  So, if you have a Boston musician in your life, chances are, they would be happy to receive one of these!

10. Last but not least, and there is no link here, because it will depend on your location, but I do not know a single musician who, right now, at this very moment, is not thinking “oh man, I need a massage!“.  You know how professional athletes use and abuse their bodies on a daily basis, so their teams/coaches etc. supply regular massage therapists to work on them so that they can be at their best when they perform?  Yeah, we don’t get those (though we DO use and abuse our bodies on a daily basis, and we ALSO need to be at our best when we perform!)  So, low-hanging fruit? maybe, but still always a winner.

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Fellow musicians, what would you add? Let me know in the comments!

Cheers!

Kate

Friday Favorites

Hi!  Did you stay up late Tuesday night watching the midterm election returns in the US?  I did, and I think I’m still recovering (physically AND emotionally!) though I pleased about the increasing diversity we are seeing, and with the fantastic youth voter turnout (keep it up, guys!).  We’re having a low-key weekend over here.  Paul is racing both days, and I’ll be teaching a bunch of lessons, working in my garden, and thinking about fall weather.  It’s hard to get organized about the holidays when it’s 75 and sunny!  Are you hosting any get-togethers this season?  Here are a few ideas to help your planning, as well as a few things to keep you entertained over the weekend.  Have a great one!

If you were inspired by the progress made in the midterm elections and want to keep the momentum going, check out DoSomething.org It’s a fantastic site organizing volunteer efforts around the globe.

These would be great as part of your regular concert black gear, or with a nice top for recitals, or just as a party or concert attendee!  Black satin trousers

The perfect crossbody bag if you’re going somewhere warm (or live on an island, hint hint)

Even though it’s still warm and sunny over here in Bermuda, I’m ready to start decking my house out for the holidays.  Here are some simple and pretty things that will make your house feel all warm and cozy.

Wreath , Table Runner, Place card holders

If you’re looking for some fun holiday themed music to play, Virtual Sheet Music offers tons of customizable pieces that are ready for immediate download!  Check it out here:

Speaking of music shops, Johnson’s Strings is having a big sale on strings right now.  It’s  time to stock up!

During the crazy holiday time, I prefer short stories  to novels.  These are so beautiful and touching and no matter how many times I have read them, I keep reaching for them again and again. Here are some others that I want to check out as well. And of course, these are always a treat!

It’s a great time to be Armenian!  The new exhibit, Armenia! at the Met is receiving rave reviews from everyone I know, and the Armenian Museum of America in Watertown, MA is having a grand re-opening reception next Thursday, Nov. 15th to show off their newly re-designed space.  (I’ll be there, too, so come on out and say hello!)

The party season is about to commence. Are you ready?  A friend of mine had the brilliant idea to just stock up now on a drawer full of great (and not too expensive!) host/hostess gifts.  Here are a few nice ideas–whether you are visiting for a few days of thanksgiving, or showing up to a dinner party:

I would love this wine chiller,Everyone has one wine chiller, but how nice to be able to keep a few bottles chilling on the table.  You can always use another!

A really nice, great smelling (and not so cheap that it’ll give you a headache!) candle is such a luxury.  This Tocca Candle would be a great gift if you are staying overnight.

Every year I seem to run out of taper candles and just the wrong moment (i.e. moments before a dinner party!) And good luck finding any red tapers in a store the weeks leading up to Christmas!  If a guest showed up bearing some of these, I would be forever grateful!

I got one of these Champagne Stoppers as a stocking stuffer one year, and it has come in so handy on numerous occasions.  Can’t quite finish that bottle of bubbly?  Not to worry!

And how grateful would your host be to be able to soak their tired achey feet after cleaning, cooking and hosting a gathering all day?  Bath salts to the rescue!

Of course, you can’t go wrong with food.  These look almost too good to eat!

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone!

Cheers,

Kate

 

 

My Month of Home

December.  Month of holidays, vacations, family and get-togethers.  Whether you are celebrating Hanukkah, Christmas, or the First Snow Day of the season, there is no denying that December is one cozy-ass month. Even here in Bermuda, the lights in town are twinkling, and the nights get chilly enough to throw on a sweater or curl up in front of a fire.  And for that reason, I decided to make My Home the focus of this month. Continue reading

Holiday Gift Guide for Your Kid’s Music Teacher

I get asked about 50 times a year by my non-musician friends and family members what an appropriate gift would be for their child’s violin/piano/clarinet teacher, so I thought I would post a few ideas.  You will notice one entire category that is missing from this list, and that is: ANYTHING that has music notes, treble clefs, or any music joke on it  (Like a magnetic fridge pad that says “Chopin Liszt”).  As I said to one disappointed friend who had sent me a link to a website dedicated to such atrocities: You’re an accountant; would you be psyched to get a pair of cheap mini-calculator earrings? No? Well, there you have it.  Just remember, when the piano teacher in your life isn’t patiently teaching kids how to find inner discipline, listen critically and build the character skills necessary to bring about world peace, they are actually perfectly normal people.  And please remember, as always, it is truly the thought that counts.  It’s nice to mark this mid-point of the year with a show of appreciation and as a way to reflect on accomplishments thus far.  That can be in the form of a heartfelt note and a hand drawn picture from the student, or it can be a purchased gift.   Below, I have compiled a list that covers a large range of price points, and of course, gift cards are always adjustable according to one’s budget.  Hope it helps, and please feel free to pass it around! Continue reading