Mary WilliamsPiano Studio

Studio Restructure

After being in motion for six years, it’s time to change up the studio a little bit. Here are some changes you will be seeing beginning in January of 2014:

One Hour Lessons

Students will have the option to take one hour lessons starting Spring Semester 2014. If you prefer forty-five minutes, this option is still available, but beginning Fall Semester 2014, all lessons will be one hour in length.

Why one hour, you ask? Well, it’s simple. You work harder, you get better. We do a lot during our weekly lessons: technique, solos, duets, improvisation, composition, listening, theory, etc., so in an effort to not lose the creative side or the technical side of being a pianist, we simply need a little bit more time.

Competition/Festival Fees

The cost of competitions and festivals continues to rise considerably. Currently my Studio Policy states that I will pay all event entry fees, but beginning Spring Semester 2014, students will be responsible for paying for the competitions and festivals that they participate in. I will continue to pay the teacher fee, but students will be billed for their registration fees. Generally the fees are between twenty and twenty-five dollars, sometimes more or sometimes less depending on the particular event. The cost of registration for each event will be listed on my website along with other pertinent information about the performance. You will be billed for these events on your Book Bill invoice.

Book Bills

The students cruise through their materials so quickly, meaning you are writing checks left and right. To ease the flow of my bank visits and lessen your reordering of checks, you will now be billed for all books near the end of the semester. This Book Bill will also contain the costs of any festivals or competitions the student had entered in that semester.

Weekend Warrior

Most of you have participated in A La Carte Lessons at one point or another, but now you have an additional option: Weekend Warrior! Weekend Warrior lessons are an hour and a half in length, and you can be a Single, Double, or Triple Weekend Warrior, meaning you can come one day, two days, or three days during the weekend. It’s like a mid-year piano camp for students who really want to get some serious work done! As with Lessons A La Carte, Weekend Warrior lessons are subject to availability.

Please note: Lessons a La Carte will still be available for $54 per forty-five minute lesson.

Backyard Studio

Yes, it’s actually happening. The carriage house will be finished just in time for our Spring Semester to begin. So, when you come for your lessons in January, head on down the driveway and through the doors on the side of the building. This will be our new little home!

Charlie Creates a Tool

One day there was a guy who made some kind of chopping, axe-like tool. This tool changed mankind forever. And then came Charlie.

You may remember Charlie from an earlier post. He's the student who decided to carve a pumpkin. (Side note to budding pianists: NEVER NEVER NEVER carve a pumpkin.) Well it was Charlie versus the knife, and the knife won. Luckily, after a super amazing surgerical procedure and months and months of dedicated physical therapy, Charlie is back at the piano, and that pinky is right there with him.

So these days instead of using a knife as a tool, Charlie has created a different kind of tool: The Measure Generator. Good news --- you can't hurt yourself with this tool, so kids, go ahead and use it with frequency.

The Measure Generator is designed to choose random measure numbers to create sections for practice purposes. Can you start from anywhere in your music? This tool is designed to help you know your music better.

Here's how it works:

1. Click on the animal icon.

2. Type the minimum measure number you want. (i.e. Type in 1 if you'd like the start from the beginning of the piece.) Then hit Enter/Return.

3. Type the maximum measure number you want. (i.e. Type 15 if you want to focus through measure 15 in practice.) Then hit Enter/Return.

4. Now click on the animal icon again and he will begin generating random selections of music for you.

5. If you'd like to start over with a different section of your piece or a new piece, click the flag on the top right of the box and implement steps 2-4 again.

See? Simple! Thanks to Charlie, mankind has a new tool. And this tool could possibly change piano practice forever!

piano student
This is a picture of Charlie, banging out some jazz.

Little Studio in the Backyard

In case you are wondering why I am adorning my front stoop with piles of door mats, it's to keep the mud out of my house. In case you are wondering why there is so much mud in the driveway, it's because I am ripping apart my backyard. And in case you were wondering why is ripping out my backyard, it's because I am BUILDING A NEW STUDIO!!!

In 2008 the plan was to build a carriage house in my backyard to accommodate a piano studio on the lower level and Blake's video studio on the upper level. But if you remember 2008 well, then you remember the economy left us for dead. No loans = no building. So we waited. And waited. Then this summer we started the ball rolling again. After our contractor spent endless hours in the offices of the City of Atlanta, the project is finally starting.

And if it ever stops raining, someday we might actually see the finished product. When you come for your lessons, take a peek back there every once in a while, and witness the progress.

Grace Goes to Camp

piano student
This essay was written by rising sixth grader, Grace K.

Over the last week, I was at a camp called Summer Sonatina. This is a piano sleep away camp in Bennington, Vermont. You wake up at 7:30am and practice for three hours a day, every day, except for on weekends, on which you are allowed to sleep in an hour and practice only two hours. It may sound like a lot, but it feels like nothing, especially since you have lessons on most days. There’s a piano in every room, except for bathrooms and the game room. There are even pianos in the dorm rooms! But that means you’re not allowed in your room during your off shift, which is kind of irritating sometimes.

In your spare time, you go to either the game room, a room with air hockey, foosball, and ping-pong, along with a cabinet full of games such as Jenga and Clue, or to their backyard, an enormous grassy area good for soccer, dodge ball, or just hanging out. You also have the opportunity to take place in other activities such as arts and crafts, swimming, master classes, composition, ukulele, and historical hikes, such as the one to Robert Frost’s grave, which I took part in. On Wednesdays there is a movie night, on Thursdays you go into town (wonderful bookstore and chocolate shop), on Friday we had a dance party, though that might have been a one-time thing, and on Saturdays you get to make an ice-cream sundae. If you get homesick, you also get 10 minutes of e-mail time a day. I lost a few pounds while there, too. There are two performance opportunities a week, two master classes, which are live streamed onto their website so your parents can watch it, and also a piano performance you attend.

This experience improved my playing a lot. I really enjoyed it and became very close with my roommates. It’s the perfect opportunity to make new friends, learn new things, musical and otherwise, and have fun! It really is like they say: a grand and upright experience.

Pictures from the (not-too-distant) Past

It's been busy around these parts lately, and my blog has suffered. But in my blog-absence, plenty has been happening, and luckily I've been snapping some pictures! So here you will find a small review of the last months of 2012 through early 2013, in picture form. Enjoy!

candler park fall fest
Several students from Mary Williams Piano Studio
participated in the LINapalooza portion of
Candler Park Fall Fest. Little people, big stage!

piano performance Candler Park
Lena backstage, about to make her debut!

piano performance Candler Park Fall Fest
Charlie waits his turn. Those fingers are about to play very quickly!

piano performance Candler Park Fall Fest
Davi takes a big bow!

piano performance Candler Park Fall Fest
Margaret accompanies a friend vocalist for Adele's Someone Like You. I think they
represent the studio well with those pink pants, don't you?

piano lessons
Charlie learned the hard way why all piano teachers
recommend AGAINST carving pumpkins. But a severed
tendon in the right hand does not mean we can't play the
left hand! (Charlie did, thankfully, make a full recovery!)

bach competition North Dekalb Music Teachers Association

bach competition North Dekalb Music Teachers Association
Olivia receives Superior rating with her performance of
two pieces from A.M. Bach for the North Dekalb Music
Teachers Association Bach Competition.

piano performance Georgia Music Teachers Association
I assist fellow piano instructor, Carol Payne, demonstrate piano
concertos at the Georgia Music Teachers Association Conference
at Young Harris College.

piano recital Georgia Music Teachers Association auditions
Ava, second from the left, represents the studio well during her performance
in Georgia Music Teachers Association Winner Recital. Ava won the
4th grade division of GMTA's State Auditions, and was asked to participate
in a Winner's Recital where she performed Bach masterfully.

piano recital
Stuart performs during the Performance Party in
preparation for the Winter Recital.

mary williams in concert piano
My debut performance of my new singer/songwriter

piano recital England Pianos Atlanta Music Teachers Association
While waiting to perform in Atlanta Music Teachers
Association's MusicFest, Margaret and Lena
demonstrate that they can follow each other perfectly
in their duet, even when the sound for this digital
grand is not turned on.