Florida

 

Contigo En La Distancia by César Portillo De La Luz, Recorded 1/5/17 in Yellow House Studio by Laura.

Central and Southern Florida!  Joe and I spent a week over the holidays in the Orlando area, Miami, and Key Largo.

We kicked off the trip with a visit to  Joe’s family in Titusville where we spent a beautiful day at the beach and another day meandering through the Merritt Island Wildlife Refuge amongst  alligators, Great Egrets, Roseate Spoonbills, and Green Herons.

In Miami, we side strolled down the stylish art deco styled South Beach. Wall to wall  activity includes bustling  sidewalk cafés, posh shops, sandy beaches, and Cuban music blasting in the background. We also visited little Havana and enjoyed a traditional  Cuban meal near our hotel.

My favorite outing was to the Viscaya Museum and Gardens, built in 1914-1916 by the wealthy James Deering. The mansion and gardens, situated on a 180 acre estate, resemble the  Italian Renaissance and Baroque villas Deering visited in his travels.  I was fascinated by the ornate details of the huge mansion including a massive open indoor/outdoor courtyard and the sprawling gardens.  On the day we visited, teenage beauties posed for quinceañera photos. Each girl had an entourage in tow including photographers, assistants, make up artists, mothers, aunts, friends, and sisters  juggling water, granola bars, curling irons, dresses, shoes, and cell phones.

Our final adventure (not including driving on Florida’s fast moving highways) was a day trip to Key Largo for an afternoon  of snorkeling in the Atlantic.  We took a  boat 45 minutes out to sea to Grecian Reef where we enjoyed an hour and a half of snorkeling with a huge variety of tropical fish  in blues, greens, yellows, and pinks, including several large and teethy barracuda!

 

Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas

Have Yourself a Merry Little  Christmas, Words and Music by Hugh Martin and Ralph Blane, Recorded at the Yellow House Studio 

Wishing you peace and love in the Holiday Season

XOXOX,

Laura

Have yourself a merry little Christmas
Let your heart be light
From now on, our troubles will be out of sight
Have yourself a merry little Christmas
Make the Yuletide gay
From now on, our troubles will be miles away

Here we are as in olden days
Happy golden days of yore
Faithful friends who are dear to us
Gather near to us once more
Through the years we all will be together
If the fates allow
So hang a shining star upon the highest bough
And have yourself a merry little Christmas now

 

Swimming

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Yesterday, my fellow early morning  lap swimmers  and I had our end of the summer breakfast which marks the end of another summer season of outdoor swimming. We’ll head indoors for the fall and the winter.  I swim three days a week at 6:00 am, it’s a great energetic start to the day.

Swimming, like music, has been a constant companion ever since I can remember. I spent many happy summers swimming on the Choteau Swim Team.  (I’m first row on the right in the picture above, I think I’m about 8 or 9.)  In college, I was a lifeguard and swim instructor and after college, I  became a certified diver when I was working on cruise ships in the Caribbean.  That seems a lifetime ago! Now, I’m an early morning lap swimmer and swim mom.

My daughter, entering high school, just made the Roosevelt High School varsity swim team.  Way to go, Ruby!   She’s much faster than I ever was!  She’s also a water polo player, because these swimmers just can’t get enough time in the water.

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We should all find something we  love and keep doing it, like swimming, like music! Today’s post, an arrangement of REM’s Night Swimming.

Here’s the original, a gorgeous song by REM from Automatic for the people:

 

More swimming love! Here’s the ever inspirational, awesome  Michael Phelps in an Under Armour Commercial.

You Won’t Be The Same After Watching Michael Phelps’ New Under Armour Ad

 

The Swan, inspired by Florence Foster Jenkins

I recently saw the beautiful movie, Florence Foster Jenkins starring  Meryl Streep as Florence, Hugh Grant as her husband, and Simon Helberg as the brilliant pianist and gentle soul, Cosmé McMoon. This stylish movie, based on the real life FFJ,  celebrates music, complex relationships,  and the human spirit.  Despite  a sold out performance at Carnegie Hall, Florence is lacking in the musical ability.  However, her spirit,enthusiasm, courage, and love for music are contagious. I laughed and cried my way through the film.

There are many touching scenes with the pianist Cosmé and Florence including Cosmé performing an audition  for Florence with The Swan from Saint Saens.  The Swan, originally for cello and two pianos, is from Carnival of the Animals.  Here is an arrangement for piano I recorded this morning.

The Swan, Saint Saen played by Laura Dean Wav

The Swan, Saint Saen, played by Laura Dean   MP4

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Florence Foster Jenkins (1868-1944)

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Cosmé McMoon (1901-1980)

Romances Sans Paroles, Yellow House Salon #16

 

 

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Silly Laura and her mom, Gail Dean at Rancho la Puerta

Romances Sans Paroles translates to Songs Without Words.  Below I play #3 by Gabriel Fauré (played on my digital keyboard and mixed on my Macbook as a harp/guitar duo). What a perfect piece for Mother’s Day. No words can describe how grateful I am for my mother, Gail Dean. She’s a woman of steel  who raised two kids on her own with courage and grace after losing  my dad in a highway accident when we were all very young.

Thanks, Mom, for all of the hours of music lessons, for driving across the state of Montana for camps and concerts, for sewing all of those costumes and dresses, for giving me a great education, and for giving me the courage, independence, and grit to pursue a life in music. I owe it all to you!

To all of the Mamas our there!  You know who you are and I know how hard you work to make it all look easy! Here’s to our Moms and here’s to us, the Mamas!

 

Don’t Advertise Your Man, Yellow House Salon #15

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Don’t Advertise Your Man piano and singing by Laura

Here’s my awesome guy, Joe Sweeney! He does laundry and helps my daughter with her math, he also is an amazing bird photographer, very funny, extremely handsome, and the love of my life. I could go on and on, but before I do, I think I’ll take the advice of  Clara Smith who first wrote this old blues tune back in the 1920’s, Don’t Advertise Your Man. Sippie Wallace came our with her version in the 1960’s. Bonnie Raitt has also recorded a sassy version.

Be sure to check out these recordings, and remember, girls, Don’t Advertise your Man!

Clara Smith

Bonnie Raitt and Sippy Wallace

Spring Mozart, Yellow House Salon #13

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Mozart Sonata K. 545, Andante, photo taken by Laura in the Ravenna neighborhood of Seattle.

An overcast spring Seattle day calls for a break from the Cuban pieces I’ve been working on. Time for some classic Mozart.  A Mozart sonata with its clear sonata form, lyric melody, and clean accompaniment, is always fresh and elegant.  It’s something like a trusty little black dress, a Timex watch, a pair of faded Levi’s, or a cup of good brewed coffee. This andante movement of the 545 sonata reminds me of the cat in this photo- unsentimental, refined, classic, and cool.

Lágrimas Negras, Yellow House Salon #12

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Still dreaming of adventures in Cuba.  Today, a post featuring Lágrimas Negras (black tears), a traditional Cuban Bolero written by Miguel Matamoros. My group learned this piece under the instruction of a wonderful voice teacher at the havana music school.

The bolero, in two parts, opens with a slow lament. The singer has been abandoned and suffers immense pain. She sobs black tears over her lover’s  transgressions. The second half picks up as she decides to suffer no more.  Above, my recording, a piano arrangement of Lágrimas Negras.

 

Don’t miss these three different takes on Lágrima Negras:

Cuban Singer/Guitarist with Cuban footage

American Cuban Songstress, Celia Cruz

Cuban piano master Bebo Valdés and  flamenco cantador, Dieguito El Cigala

Please visit Weeks 9, 10, and 11  for more on my Cuban adventures.

Yellow House Salon #7, Rubato

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Ruby with the Eckstein Senior Orchestra at Icicle Creek Retreat

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Statue on grounds of Sleeping Lady near Leavenworth Washington

 

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This week’s recording is a Gershwin Prelude, Rubato. Rubato means to play with expressive freedom,  a give and take of the tempo without altering the overall structure. (recorded on my Roland hand held digital recorder)

The first thing about middle schoolers, they eat a lot!  As a chaperone on a recent Icicle Creek trip, most of the duties consisted of food shopping,  feeding the kids, tucking them into their cabins at night, and  letting them out of their cabins in the morning. Just over a week ago,  I accompanied my daughter, Ruby, a member of the senior orchestra of Eckstein Middle School, to the snowy wonderland retreat at Icicle Creek/Sleeping Lady resort near Leavenworth, Washington. We were a group of 50 including the orchestra, coaches, the director, and chaperones.

Aside from a few Faulty Towers moments where we had to shuffle people in an out of rooms to make sure everyone had a place to sleep, the retreat was a huge success.  The kids worked their tails off, rehearsing as much as 11 hours a day in the full orchestra, sectionals, and chamber groups.

I am in awe of the commitment of the director, Brad Smith,  the students, the high school coaches, the professional instructors and the parents of all of these kids to make this all come together. It’s not just the support to pull of this  weekend retreat, but the long-term commitment to music education.  I listen and watch the students and I think of the weekly lessons, the daily practice, the extra rehearsals, the shlepping of instruments back and forth, the patience of the instructors, the juggling of schedules, the endless repetition in the practice room, and finally, the  glorious music  that is the end result of this team effort. Ultimately, the pursuit of music is an act of love on all parts, and it definitely takes a village.

 

 

What the World Needs Now is Love Yellow House Salon Week #6

I’m off on an adventure later this week with my daughter and her middle school orchestra, that’s why this week’s recording is a little early.  The trip is a labor of love, as I am the trip leader for 37 kids and 12 adults to the beautiful Icicle Creek/Sleeping Lady resort in Leavenworth, Washington. That’s a story for next week, perhaps.

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I love walking to cafés, almond milk cappuccinos,  and making lists.

I have pages in my filofax planner (one of my favorite things), listing people, experiences, and things I love. I’m up to #42.

If we all do a little more of what we love and focus on loving those we love, I think the world will be a little better place.

As Mother Teresa said, We can do no great things, just small things with great love .  Now with all this talk about love, here’s  What the world Needs Now is Love. 

Music by Burt Bacharach, Lyric by Hal David, arranged by Phillip Keveren, played by Laura Dean

What the world needs now is love, sweet love
It’s the only thing that there’s just too little of
What the world needs now is love, sweet love
No, not just for some but for everyone

MP4 Format What the world needs now is love, sweet love

MP3 Format here!