Young Artist’s Competition

Studio member Murphy Massey-O’Hanlon received the 3rd place prize at the Intermediate Level in the Young Artist’s Competition on April 24, 2021. I’m so proud of Murphy for taking part in this event and for playing so beautifully. Congratulations! The competition is sponsored by the Gig Harbor Chapter of the Music Teachers National Association every other year and offers monetary awards for students ages 10 to 18 who study with GHMTNA teachers. We were able to hold the event in person with masks and social distancing in Bonnie Rees’s spacious studio. Thanks Bonnie!


As 2020 comes to a close I want to share some of the highlights of the year in the studio. In January six of my students took part in the Festival of Piano Trios. We are so fortunate to have Mary Manning, violinist, and Margaret Thorndill, cellist, rehearse and perform with the students. It is a unique opportunity to play with professional musicians, one that will hopefully give my students a life-long love of playing music together with others. The following students performed at Agnus Dei Lutheran Church in February: Abby Gilman, Micah Holdych, David Joy, Raegan Laird, Murphy Massey-O’Hanlon and Tressa Paulson. Twenty students from other studios also played. I am so proud of the maturity and confidence of these students!

Then in March . . . Beginning on March 18, three days after the State shut down due to Covid 19, I began teaching on my phone. I have a hard enough time sending a text message on my phone, so this was not a pleasant thing for me. But thanks to all my patient and kind students and their families (and my tech savvy children and their spouses), we have persevered. We’ve all learned so much about communicating and I’m so inspired by my student’s determination! I hope the piano has given them relief from the worries and stress of our days. I know it gives me great joy to see each of my students every week and to think about nothing else but music and piano playing!

In June I hosted two Zoom recitals, one for my 13 students at Parkland Lutheran school and one for my school-age Gig Harbor students. It was great fun to see everyone together and hear them play on their home pianos.

Most of my 30+ students took the summer off, but were ready to start up again in September. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to continue at Parkland as I didn’t feel comfortable meeting with them when they began in-person learning in October. I hope to be able to teach there again beginning in September 2021.

The final event of 2020 was the first ever Virtual Music Olympics hosted by the Gig Harbor Music Teachers Association. Participating from my studio were Micah Holdych, Raegan Laird, Zander Laird, Murphy Massey-O’Hanlon, Tressa Paulson and Jakob VanKomen. Pictured are our trophy winners. Raegan–2nd Place Intermediate B, Murphy–3rd place Intermediate A, and Tressa–1st place Lower Advanced. Congratulations to all the participants and special thanks to family members who helped with all the technology necessary to pull it off.

Festival of Piano Trios

Jonathan Graber, violin, Margaret Thorndill, cello
Pianists from our studio – Abby Gilman, Tressa Paulson and Samantha Riggles
Saturday, February 4, 2017 | 7:00 PM
Agnus Dei Lutheran Church
10511 Peacock Hill Ave. NW
Gig Harbor, Washington 98835
Each year I have the privilege of chairing the event we call the “Festival of Piano Trios”. The Gig Harbor Chapter of the Washington State Music Teachers Association hires two professional string players to rehearse and perform with our select students. The students receive their piano part in December and then rehearse two or three times with the string players before performing their piece for the public. Our sting players are wonderful musicians and teachers, giving the students a valuable experience is collaborative music making.
I hope you can come to this free concert to hear some beautiful music and support these students.

Music Olympics is Fun!

It was a day of musical fun and friendly competition on November 19th when nearly 200 piano students from the Gig Harbor area joined together around the piano. Each student competed in the areas of scales, chords, arpeggios, rhythm, listening, speedy notes, sightreading, performance and theory. Pianists representing our studio were Dallin Halverson, Madilynn Bartlotti, Jasinia Cheever, Tressa Paulson, Abby Gilman, Samantha Riggles, and Nathaniel Gilman. Congratulations to all for their hard work and winning attitudes!
Our trophy winner this year was Abby Gilman who won the 2nd place trophy at the Intermediate level.

Ear Training Programs

2016-17 Lessons Are Underway!

It’s great to have everyone back at their piano lessons. With a few new students starting, the studio is full!

Our first order of business is to make sure everyone is registered for Music Olympics. The registration deadline is September 23 so don’t delay. Watch here for ideas on free computer programs for practicing ear training and sightreading, listening opportunities, and tips and tricks for making this the best year of lessons yet.

Register for Music Olympics

September Benefit Concert featured piano, cello, violin trios

14322184_10153956146231849_1158312573368498458_nYesterday evening (Sept. 9, 2016), I had the privilege of performing in a benefit concert with my friends, violinist Gwen Taylor and cellist Margaret Thorndill. We played several piano trios for an intimate crowd of chamber music lovers as a kick-off to the Tacoma Symphony 2016-17 Season.

Margaret has been playing with the symphony for 30 years and Gwen, who is the current Associate Concertmaster, has been with the symphony for 20 years. They are both wonderful players and I am honored to have the opportunity to perform with them in support of the Tacoma Symphony Orchestra.

Concert Wednesday!

This Wednesday, Aug. 10 at Noon, I’ll be performing at the Listen Live at Lunch recital series at First Lutheran Church in downtown Tacoma. This is the sixth August that my friend and wonderful clarinetist, David Salge have presented a program together. David loves to come up with unique programming and this year we’re joined by flutist Lia Wax to perform three pieces that have been transcribed for that combination of instruments by Michael Webster.

The first is of special interest to pianists- Debussy’s Petite Suite, which was originally written for piano-4 hands. Then we’ll play a lovely transcription of the famous orchestral piece Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun. The concert closes with Bizet’s Carmen Variations which I’ve played in many contests with flutists. The clarinet is a great addition and we will fly to the end!

You can eat your lunch during the concert or sit on a blanket in Wright Park and listen via the church’s sound system. I hope you can come!

Connect to Listen Live at Lunch on Facebook.