Joe Holt's Notes Newsletter
March 2009
Vol 5 No 3
                            Learning never ends 
No sooner does March comes in truly like a lion do (at least where I live) the performing arts pop up everywhere. More to take in than time permits, really. A priority, though, was to attend this year's (Queen Anne's County) High School musical; Peter Pan. My daughter, Charie' loves being a "techie". Though she will dabble on stage, she is well at home behind the scenes, this year as assistant stage manager. As I watched the production, I was taken by all the effort and comittment by so many people necessary to pull this off, and so well! Learning and growing doesn't end after high school, of course, and hopefully not after college either. Learning never stops, at least it shouldn't. Not for me, anyway. The more I can cultivate my practice discipline at the piano, the happier I am. I also benefit from being in the position to be one who passes knowledge and encouragement along. To this end, I'm excited to announce the unveiling of the new user friendly "Lessons for the Thoughtful Pianist". read more about it (and other happenings) below...
Joe's Concert Schedule
SUNDAY 3/15: 10:45am
Joe performs hymns and Christian songs in the morning worship of the Melwood Church of the Nazarene, Upper Marlboro, MD for the dedication of the new sanctuary piano.
SUNDAY 4/19: 6pm - tentitive date - check back soon
Joe performs hymns, Christian songs, and jazz piano in concert at the Newark Church of the Nazarene, Newark De.  
THURSDAY 5/7 - 7pm 
Solo piano entertainment concert - featuring jazz and popular standards, at the Philadelphia Protestant Home , Philadelphia, Pa for info (215)697-8564
Joe has performed in concert for the Phila. Protestant Home retirement residents and surrounding community every other month since 1994 (over 85 performances)! This event is like one big family, where Joe shares personal and family stories, and presents a solo piano concert. Unique among Joe's "venues", this program is an opportunity to enjoy a warm and friendly evening. 
THURSDAY 5/21 - 2pm
Joe performs in concert: "Piano Improvisations" at the Downs Cultural Center, Wilmington, DE
A wholly improvised piano concert with a varied palate of familiar melodies, and, perhaps, a surprise or two. Downs center performances are open to the public, with no admission charge. Reservations are requested. (302)-575-0250 x2244

see the schedule
Other Opportunities
A weekly Sunday Brunch gig (solo piano) in Easton, MD is in the planning stage, and likely to begin in the coming few weeks. Stay tuned...
From the Comment Box
As enjoyable and swingin' as ever Joe - King of the Quotes! ;-)
to which I replied:
What can I say (after I say I'm sorry)?
Thanks (for the memories).
Thank you very much (that's the nicest thing that anyone's ever done for me)!
I'll be seeing you (in all the old familiar places).
Somebody help me!!!!
So beautiful. Thanks for this Joe. And thank you for inspiring me in so many ways - namely how to play an out of tune piano correctly. All these years I could never "play through" an out of tune piano, yet still let my voice be heard accurately. You prove that this can be done.
 to which I replied:
Maybe I'm tone deaf :) Or (more likely), I just decided long ago to stop being one of those fussbudgets that requires all the atmospheric conditions be perfect (we all know horn players who...). Rather, it's relative (but not Grandpa) - everyone else has to contend with (whatever) it (is) too. It also provides additional motivation to "lose yourself" of concerns and annoyances. And finally, I need the gigs :) Thanks, Jason!
This is just stellar, and a very different approach from your other posts. You struck just the right balance between straying from the melody and then bringing it back.
to which I replied:
That makes me happy. "Balance" is what I'm after, though you just gave me that word. I tend to use more pseudo-cumbersome words like connection or the dropping of agendas. Also always seeking to evolve and grow. This one felt right to the few that were at the session (including myself) immediately. Balance, I like it (hey Mikey!)! Thanks!

Featured videos for March, 2009:
YouTube featured performance video:
YouTube featured performance playlist:
An Evening of Piano Improvisation - January 30, 2009
YouTube featured instructional video:
The Foundation, and Practice of Playing By Ear
Joe Holt's Notes on the Radio" continues on 840am WKDI, Denton, MD Saturdays @ 5pm, and Sundays @ 2pm. Join me as I play the piano for you, and share thoughts about music and it's makings.


Belated congratulations to Max Murray. Not content just being the JoeHoltsNotes webmaster, he is also (among many other endeavours) the bassist for the Afro Bop Allaince. Guess what Max is holding? Click here to find out. 

"Lessons for the Thoughtful Pianist" are now available online, by subscription. Check back often as new lessons become available.

In support of "Lessons for the Thoughtful Pianist", the Lessons for the Thoughtful Pianist YouTube Channel is now open. Watch for new videos to added as new lessons become available.  
From the Journal
Everyone in my family, and those who've known me long enough, has a "Joe has no night vision" story to tell - often involving a near "collision" while walking in poor lighting; avoided only by a warning from someone waiting for me to notice, and eventually intervening. Ironic(al) that my profession requires so much late night driving (we'll discuss the sleepiness some other time). I (and my guardian angels) make it work, in part by driving slower at night (also motivated by the increased deer activity). While outside this evening, standing alongside my car in the driveway, it seemed sensible to go and retrieve the trash can. I proceed cautiously, avoiding the small trees in the front yard (which I sometimes don't notice prior to impact) as I make my way to the street. Perhaps I've not attempted to retrieve the trash can at night before, as it was weird to walk toward the object that I couldn't see, though I knew where it was (having put it there last night). Kind of like faith, perhaps; where "knowing" and not (necessarily) "seeing" provide one's compass. Eventually the blue can came into faint view as I came up upon it, providing what was necessary to pick it up (the trash guys have a thing for leaving the can on it's side) and wheel it back to the house. For whatever reason, this routine task made an impression on me tonite. Faith and sight. I'm sure I'll be thinking some more about that (yes, that's a picture of our trash can in the dark - from my perspective).

posted 1/15/09
Lessons for the Thoughtful Pianist
The following excerpt is from lesson A1: The Foundation and Practice of Playing By Ear

"The foundation of being able to improvise is simply to restructure the mental framework we use for making music. This does not mean technical skill. Rather, it means learning to harness and apply our natural ability to organize sounds in our mind; much like we organize words. With enough "practice" and repetition, both become instinctive. This lesson will not lay out a complete definitive "system" for playing by ear. In addition to this not being the point, your "system" will evolve in a manner unique to you and to your precise way of thinking about (and through) things, once you have embraced the foundation. The foundation of playing by ear is to have a mental framework for dealing with sounds and their relationship to each other. What this means is that we are primarily concerned with the how the notes we play sound in relationship to each other, and secondarily, the (letter) label by which we identify them. If you are a classically or traditionally trained pianist, this may be the reverse of your current mindset. In our culture, and in our time, what is commonly known as the "major scale" most often defines these "sound relationships", and is our starting point...
Want to hear and read more?

Listen - to Joe Holt's Notes on the Radio. Each week, Joe devotes a portion of the program to sharing his thoughts on making music.
Downloadable lessons available by subscription 

Watch - Video on the new Lessons For the Thoughtful Pianist YouTube channel.


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Thanks for your continued interest and support. Hope to see you soon!
Blessings and Awareness,