Apart from teaching piano week in and week out at my studio in Belmont, I like talking to my husband about his work. His corniness, silliness, nerdiness.... Here's another post from him.
Many have seen this poster image of our president Barack Obama created by Shepard Fairey.
Using that as a mask, a physical image of the president can be created with carbonnanotubes (CNT). We can shrink the image to the micro-scale using catalyst nanoparticles. Here's a scanning electron microscope image of CNT made Obama heads we call "nanobamas" !!!!
This image was generated by my colleague John Hart. You can find out more on how these are made here.
Grace Piano Studio in Belmont is getting geared up to start Fall piano lessons. Cleaning up the website, interviewing new students, buying more fun music - it's an exciting time! I can tell Jeffrey is excited, too.
With crisp, cool air and falling leaves right around the corner, many people are inspired to start something new. At this time of year, you may be contemplating putting yourself or your child into piano lessons. If so, here are some helpful questions to ask a prospective piano teacher. The answers will give good insight into the quality and experience of the teacher!
Check out my FAQ page to see Grace Piano Studio's answers to the following questions.
What is your musical training? How long have you taught students?
Note: It is wiser to choose a teacher who has at least an undergraduate degree in music than one who has been self-taught.
Where are the lessons held?
What is a good age for my child to start taking lessons?
Do you take adult students?
How do I know if piano is the right instrument for my child?
What is my role as a parent of a piano student? How much should a student practice?
What is included in my payment for piano lessons? Do you charge payment by the lesson, or do you charge tuition?
What emphasis do you put on note reading, technique, theory, improvisation or composition, memorization, and musical expression?
Does you have recitals? Is it a requirement that all students perform?
Do you use a specific piano teaching method, such as Suzuki?
What are your studio policies? What is your policy if I need to miss a lesson? What if I don't want to take lessons through the summer months?
Here's another interesting/funny/nerdy post from my husband on the intersection of science and art!
Cells have supporting structures, just like a building. There are specific filaments that support tension, while others support compression. These structures are also responsible for transmitting forces within a cell. A cell that is being poked at the surface membrane can sense changes within the nucleus. This works very similarly to a guitar string. When you pull on a guitar string, the forces are transmitted through vibrations from one end to the other. Furthermore, when the string is plucked in the transverse direction, forces are transmitted more efficiently and therefore produce a louder sound. Similarly, cells have polarity/directions. When forces are applied in the direction parallel to the cell those forces are dissipated mostly into heat. However, when forces are applied in the perpendicular direction to the cell the filaments within transmit those forces to distal ends.
Here's a picture of the filaments within the cell that are responsible for transmitting forces. You can see a cervical cancer (HeLa) cell with its microtubules stained in blue and its nuclear histone in green. Microtubules are the structures responsible in sustaining compressive forces. This image was taken using a STED microscope.
Another example, microtubules stained in green and nuclear histone in red.
I don't think you need to be in music lessons to appreciate the insight that Itay brought through this Ted Talk. The concepts of leadership, trust, and control vs. delegation are thought-provokingly brought to life through the medium of the conductor-orchestra relationship.
I can't tell you how much I appreciate NOT being married to another musician! My husband is a cell biologist. Though he has a great admiration and love for art and music, is incredibly supportive of my piano playing, and is very helpful when I come up against roadblocks in my piano teaching, I love talking with him about the art that exists in the scientific world. When I go visit him in his lab I am stunned by the color, shape, and dynamic beauty of the microscopic world. The more time I spend scanning the slides and listening to him excitedly explain his daily work, the more I realize there is just a small divide between art and science. So I thought it would be fun for you all to hear from him!
What is it like to be married to a classical pianist? How do you explain your work to your wife and her fellow piano teachers? What is it like to have piano lessons at your home? Some of my colleagues are fascinated by our life together, and these are just some of the many questions that I have been inundated with.
I am a scientist by profession, but I have great appreciation for my wife's music - I believe that there is a fine gray line between science and art. With my work in the lab, I am exposed daily to the art that exists at the micro scale level. The above picture shows some adipocytes (fat cells) that were differentiated from bone marrow-derived mesenchymal stem cells. Looking at it, I think of the many bubbles and eye-catching shapes that Gustav Klimt (a renown 19th century painter) used in his paintings.
Adele Bloch-Bauer I (1907)
The bad side of being married to a pianist:
My wife is a "right brain" artistic and intuitive pianist, while I am a "left brain" logical scientist. Many have told me that our future kids will be well-rounded, excelling in both the arts and sciences. These people obviously don't understand Mendelian genetics. If our kids can inherit my wife's "right brain" and my "left brain", they could also inherit the useless sides of our brains and have "no brain" at all!
My name is Michal Harris. And I am a recovering classical music snob.
In music school you learn so much about the music of old, dead, western, white men. GREAT music, don't get me wrong - I love Schubert more than anyone! - but there is so much greatness being composed and performed right now.
Music is cool. Playing music is cool. "Frozen" is cool. Adele is cool. Beethoven is cool.
I want piano students to know that classical music is cool, and it doesn't need to be an "either/or" decision as to whether classical or modern music is better.
So I just had a fabulous idea today, thanks to The Piano Guys! Since my music students are learning about Mozart this month I think I'll have them take a listen to this....
What do you think?
Do you think Michael Jackson and Mozart would have been good friends?
Here is another brief thought for you on the subject of relaxation!
Do you ever find yourself becoming tense/clenching muscles in your body when you watch someone complete a task you know how to do very well?
The next time you are sitting in the front passenger seat of a car, across from the driver, notice how relaxed or tense you are - do a full body scan of all your muscles from head to toe. I bet you'll find some tension you didn't know was there...
Pianists, singers - all musicians: next time you watch someone perform on stage, check your muscles! Be more aware of your body, and purposefully relax in the presence of stress. Check your jaw, your throat, your hips, eyes, feet...
The more you are aware of tense muscles, the more you can work on relaxing them. That relaxation will lead to better posture, better breathing, better music making if you are a musician, and fewer headaches, back aches, and other body aches.
Michal Grace Harris
Piano Teacher & Accompanist