Planning travel: Maui to Boston, Utrecht to London

Nearly six years after flying to Maui and getting a job there, I booked a one-way ticket to Boston and started planning my exit from paradise.

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What you’re also learning when you take a piano class

Rough draft for a future article or blog post

  • Time management
  • Multi-tasking
  • Planning
  • Listening
  • Public speaking
  • Presenting
  • Overcoming stage fright
  • Timing, rhythm
  • Body coordination
  • Focus
  • Concentration
  • Real time crisis management
  • Problem solving
  • Interpretation
  • Individual self expression
  • Accompanying
  • Improvising
  • Collaboration
  • New vocabulary
  • Italian
  • Motivation
  • Music theory
  • Pattern recognition
  • Sight reading
  • Audience engagement
  • Self management and regulation
  • Stress management
  • Discipline
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Most commonly used chords for ʻukulele

The common chord progression assignment I gave to my beginning music theory class caused an uproar. It was the secret formula that explained the Pareto Rule of Pop Music: 80% of pop music used only 20% of the chords.

“You mean, I only need to know a handful of chords and I can play what I want?” one student cried.

This revelation also gives confidence to the beginning ʻukulele player. No longer do you have to memorize chord charts. Just master the most common chords and you’re good to go.

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Chord shape thinking from guitar to ukulele

In my forthcoming paper on teaching yourself to play the ʻukulele, I venture into similarities between guitar and ʻukulele chords. If you already play the guitar, thinking in intervals and chord shapes will give you a head start to playing the ʻukulele. Continue reading

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How to remember music intervals and why

Anyone who wants to sing a song by reading music notes will need to be able to identify the intervals (i.e. distance between notes) and how they should sound. Unless you have perfect, a.k.a. absolute, pitch, you will need to reference the sound of the second note from the first pitch (sound of the first note).

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More than teaching piano

I specialize in teaching adults how to play piano. More and more adults are learning to play the piano as a way to relax, exercise their mind and body coordination, and play songs they like. Adults learn quickly, but they are also self-critical.

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Happy Thai Girl on Thai Cooking Made Easy

When June, my friend from high school, announced on Facebook that she had published her cook book “Happy Thai Girl” I suddenly remembered all those Sundays in Okinawa when I woke her up to cook for me.

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9/11 piano concert on Maui

In my quest to give concerts for every occasion and purpose, I have long wanted to pay a musical tribute to September 11, 2001. It was a day that changed my life, for I was in Manhattan for a morning staff meeting that got sidetracked by the fall of the twin towers. I documented my journey in consecutive Bon Journal entries and referred and acknowledged in subsequent years.

How does one select the music for 9/11? Continue reading

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Teaching from the gut

Long ago I posted a blog on Bon Journal called “Teaching from the Gut.” By the title, I meant teaching a subject you know so intimately that it feels as though it’s coming out of your gut. You’re so confident of the subject that you don’t need to do additional research to make sure you got it right.

That’s how I felt about teaching math, piano, and now, Mandarin.

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Kubasaki High School Reunion Cruise: part four

In the final part of this four-part blog post about my high school reunion, I reflect upon why my high school classmates should and would want to attend the next reunion. I write this because I struggled against my own reservations (part one) to attend this particular reunion and had years earlier come up with rational excuses for not attending previous reunions.

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