Any Ensemble Workshop with composer John Teske

Saturday April 12th 2pm-3:30pm

at The Fremont Abbey - 4272 Fremont Ave N. Seattle, WA 98103

This 90-minute workshop with composer John Teske will focus on musicianship, interpretation, and improvisation using graphic scores which are flexible, improvisatory, and written for any instrumentation. Removing specific orchestration empowers workshop attendees to think critically and explore music in different ways with a unique say in the creative interpretation of works.

Open to any age, instrument, or skill level.

Parents of children are asked to stay and observe. Street parking available on Fremont Ave.


While Emily's in Leavenworth...

My Artist Residency is just around the corner! So exciting!  I'll be sure to post updates onto my artist blog and any other lovely tidbits for my students onto this blog. (I've updated my website, check it out!)

Please make a point to include the following events in your calendar. You won't want to miss out on these events.

Studio Events

  • Week of March 3rd: Winter Break - No Lessons
  • Week of March 10th: Group Lesson on Wednesday March 12th 4:30-6pm
    • At the Fremont Abbey - 4272 Fremont Ave N - street parking available
    • Bring rockstop, music stand, cello chair
    • Prepare to share 4 things: 1 polished piece, 1 review piece, 1 new skill, 1 music-related Youtube video
  • Week of March 17th: Skype Calls - schedule 30 mins with Emily via email
  • Week of March 24th: Group Lesson on Wednesday March 26th 4:30-6pm 
    • At the Fremont Abbey - 4272 Fremont Ave N - street parking available
    • Bring rockstop, music stand, cello chair
    • Prepare to share 4 things: 1 polished piece, 1 review piece, 1 new skill, 1 music-related Youtube video
  • Week of March 31st: Individual Lessons per Studio Calendar
  • Week of April 7th: Composer's Workshop with John Teske on Saturday April 12th 2-3:30pm
    • At the Fremont Abbey - 4272 Fremont Ave N - street parking available
    • Bring rockstop, music stand, and cello chair
  • Week of April 14th: Spring Break - No Lessons

Field Trips!

Remember, there is a ton of wonderful musical events happening in the Puget Sound area all the time, but especially in March and April. I highly suggest taking a look at the ones I've highlighted and attending the ones that interest you.

Enriching Your Environment: 2014 Spring Field Trips

Most of you know, I'll be in Leavenworth, WA for 6-weeks starting March 1st through April 15th. And yes, I'll miss my beautiful cello students... BUT there is so much to do in the Seattle/Tacoma area while I'm gone that you could blink and I'll be back in town. 

I've not only scheduled some fun group lessons and other special events for my students (more to come later) but I've also collected my favorite musical events happening in the area between now and then and put them on the calendar below.

There is no shortage of educational experiences for you to partake of. (I haven't even listed all of them!) And they will all greatly enrich your pursuit of music. So get out there!

Financial Aid Hint-Hint/Wink-Wink: Most of these events have a special discounted student rate... I'd suggest calling ahead and asking for that if you need it. 

Bow Hold Makeover

I frequently do mini bow hold makeovers with students. Sometimes the tiniest alterations make the biggest difference! In this case, we changed how the bow is involved with the cello and body.

In the top photo, you might be able to notice that the bow was being used like a sword is used. This student was one knuckle away from using their bow like a baseball bat. Oh no!

In the bottom photo, after the makeover, you might be able to see that this student's relationship with his bow and cello has now changed.

There is no longer a posture of ordering his cello to "stomp out" a sound. The change has now prompted him to *ask* his cello to release sounds.


GiveIt100: Let's just get this straight...

My students are brilliant.


and whether they decide to choose to stay with me for multiple years or just one year, I know they are capable of really fantastic stuff. Karen X Cheng is a former student and is no exception to that.

I look back on our lessons together as being a catalyst for both of us to embark upon deeply wonderful things. Even though I climbed 4 flights of stairs with a cello, I loved our lessons perched above Capitol Hill with a great view of the Space Needle. But only after I caught my breath.

Karen ended lessons with me when she realized she needed a pretty huge career change. There was something sucking the joy out of her life. She was feeling the pressure to make a change in her life and to make it NOW. Having been there many times myself I totally understood and sympathized with her predicament. 

Her resignation letter/song to Microsoft and Excel is below. ;-)

She moved to San Francisco, CA to work as a designer for a lovely company, Exec. While she was there she fell in love with dance.

And then she did something remarkable... 

she made a video of herself practicing dance every day. The end result was that she was now really good at dance and she had a her time-lapse video go viral on youtube with almost 4 million views. (Check it out below...)

Some of my favorites from

So now she's done something else unique. She's started which provides a platform for others to share their process of learning something new every day for 100 days.

I can't even begin to describe how excited I am for her and grateful I am to her.

My new online students and I are using the site as a way to keep them accountable to cello practice and getting better at ONE thing each day. 

I've even started on my own 100 Days of Artist Residency Prep by sharing some general thoughts and fears on what it's like to "step up and stand up as an artist" each new day.

And! I get to meet other wonderful folks from around the world that are really making great strides in their learning every day.

Many rounds of applause go to Karen for pioneering this facet of the learning process and community!

I can't wait to hear more from her in the near future! :-)

Don't Take the Second Step... Start with the First

A friend sent me a poem this week. It did not beat around the bush, nor coddle me. But it did pierce my artist fears and encourage me to keep walking. one step at a time.

And now, this is exactly what I encourage you to do too!

Start with the first step. Unpack your cello. Don't start with the 60 minute practice session or even the Minuet you're practicing. Start with the first step.

Start with the ground you know. Tighten your bow hair. Tune your cello. Play a low C. Don't let questions from the outside smother something simple and beautiful. Let yourself breathe. Answer your own questions. 

Listen to your own voice through the cello. What is it telling you today? Become an ear for yourself and your cello. Be humble and focused. Choose practice chunks that are specific and measurable and not too long. 

for you: an action to make

I encourage you to take a few moments this week to read the following poem aloud during one of your practice sessions. Make a note of how this action affected your practice time. Let's talk about it at your next lesson! 

Start Close In

a poem by David Whyte

Start close in,
don't take the second step
or the third,
start with the first
close in,
the step
you don't want to take.

Start with
the ground
you know,
the pale ground
beneath your feet,
your own
way of starting
the conversation.

Start with your own
give up on other
people's questions,
don't let them
smother something

To find
another's voice,
your own voice,
wait until
that voice
becomes a 
private ear
to another.

Start right now
take a small step
you can call your own
don't follow
someone else's 
heroics, be humble
and focused,
start close in,
don't mistake
that other
for your own.

Start close in,
don't take
the second step
or the third,
start with the first
close in,
the step
you don't want to take.

Poet David Whyte grew up with a strong, imaginative influence from his Irish mother among the hills and valleys of his father’s Yorkshire. He now makes his home, with his family, in the Pacific Northwest of the United States.

The author of seven books of poetry and three books of prose, David Whyte holds a degree in Marine Zoology and has traveled extensively, including living and working as a naturalist guide in the Galapagos Islands and leading anthropological and natural history expeditions in the Andes the Amazon and the Himalaya. He brings this wealth of experience to his poetry, lectures and workshops.

His life as a poet has created a readership and listenership in three normally mutually exclusive areas: the literate world of readings that most poets inhabit, the psychological and theological worlds of philosophical enquiry and the world of vocation, work and organizational leadership.

An Associate Fellow at Templeton College and Said Business School at the University of Oxford, he is one of the few poets to take his perspectives on creativity into the field of organizational development, where he works with many European, American and international companies. In spring of 2008 he was awarded an honorary doctorate from Neumann College, Pennsylvania.

In organizational settings, using poetry and thoughtful commentary, he illustrates how we can foster qualities of courage and engagement; qualities needed if we are to respond to today’s call for increased creativity and adaptability in the workplace. He brings a unique and important contribution to our understanding of the nature of individual and organizational change particularly through his unique perspectives on Conversational Leadership.

Quote of the Week: Living in Process & Creativity

 "Living in process is being open to insight and encounter. Creativity is becoming intensively absorbed in the process and giving it form."

 "Living in process is being open to insight and encounter. Creativity is becoming intensively absorbed in the process and giving it form."

As students, we step into process by choice (wether we're aware of that or not at the beginning.) Regardless of what we want the product to be or when we want that product to come into fruition, we are in process.

To me, the juiciest part of process is curiosity. Curiosity has an element of care-free exploration and questioning that I have only learned to love from years of trying to learn things the hard way.

 Using an "open hand" to hold our process-encounters gives our learning room to breathe. While closing our hands with great expectations strangles the life from what we desire from the process. This doesn't mean we shouldn't have great expectations, but even those should have room to breathe to morph and change and grow to be larger than we initially imagined.

Metaphorically we can actually hear the difference between this tension-free mentality and vice grip mentality through our cello bow holds. I encourage you to experiment with this metaphor in your cello practicing this week or if you're not a cellist...

What else in your life needs room to breathe before it can grow?


The Power of Rhythm and Hollywood

Our ideas come from really strange places.

Lord knows some of my students regularly think: "Here she goes again with her weird left-field metaphor!" But sometimes those left-field connections actually turn into magic...

Watch the idea of this teacher (referencing a Hollywood movie) transform this kiddo's life permanently in the video below. What I loved most about this is watching Musharaf ride the wave of rhythm. It was as if it caught him and carried him with his words. 

Music is magical. 

Get your tissues ready... 

British School Boy Musharaf has had a stammer from a very young age. With the help of his teachers, he is eventually able to over come it in time for an English speaking exam. Copyright: Channel 4's "Educating Yorkshire." This video is not monetized.

Project 52 Update

You might already know this, but I've been recording cover songs. I started Project 52 hoping to put out one recording each week for a year (hence the 52.) But life happens, as you know. So I don't get a chance to put all of them online.

Regardless, here's the latest go of it... Ultra-Pop Princess, Katy Perry, meets a cello choir (and my attempt at some Whitney Houston towards the end! eek!)

This particular arrangement is for 7 cellos, organ, & snaps'n'claps. (The Rihanna song I did awhile back was for 6 cellos.)

I don't normally spend much time on these recordings, but for some reason I "caught the bug" with this one. I started working on it Sunday at 11am and then blinked. BOOM! It was suddenly 7pm and I hadn't eaten or drank anything all day. I felt a wee bit looney walking through the grocery store afterwards. Yikes!

Bottom-line: I'm finding this Project 52 to be a really really great etude in recording and producing. I highly suggest to anyone wanting to learn a new skill to JFDI! (Just F***ing Do It!) But I think you already knew that. ;-)

Quote of the Week: "I did it myself."

Sometimes we get bogged down in the "can'ts" and "shouldn'ts" of art & music.

There are days it feels like such a luxury to learn and create. and there are days that the mountain of things to create and learn is so overwhelming.

But then there are days of necessity. Necessity that causes every bone in your body to ache for that learning and creating. 

Pushing through the "no's" and the overwhelming feelings we encounter in our artistic process makes the learning and creating that much more meaningful...

because in the end? You did it yourself.

 "I am thankful to all those who said 'no' to me. It's because of them I did it myself." - Albert Einstein

 "I am thankful to all those who said 'no' to me. It's because of them I did it myself." - Albert Einstein

[note: whether Albert Einstein actually said the quote above is often debated.]