A Magical Year!

“Walking in the Air” by Howard Blake-played by Laura

It’s warm and cozy in my studio as the rain drums on the roof on this penultimate day of 2022. I’m reflecting on this past year, a magical year. My personal highlight was the publication of my book, Music in the Westward Expansion: Songs of Heart and Place on the American Frontier. Over the past few months, I have thoroughly enjoyed giving concert presentations to audiences in Tecate, Mexico (at Rancho La Puerta), Seattle, and in Eastern Washington. I am just getting warmed up, as there are several more Heart and Place concerts in the works for 2023. I will also be releasing a recorded collection of songs/pieces (on a CD and digital recording) entitled Songs of Heart and Place.

In addition, the year provided special moments all along the way- teaching my students (ages 5-adult), working as a visiting artist in Olympia and Edmonds, early morning swims with my dear swimming pals, traveling to Sedona, hiking along the south rim of the Grand Canyon, cooking dinner for friends, and the daily interactions with people in my neighborhood. There’s magic afoot everywhere.

Over the past two weeks, I’ve been taking a staycation filled with music practice, organizing my studio, planning for the year ahead, taking long walks, reading, and spending time with family and friends. Holiday events have included a couple of special music concerts. The first, a Harry Connick Jr. concert at Seattle’s Benaroya Hall- which felt like a trip to new Orleans with fabulous jazz musicians, funny stories, and Harry’s voice and piano prowess- oh my! On another night, Ruby and I attended the Northwest Boy Choir’s “Lessons in Carols” proceeded by dinner at the Wild Ginger-our annual tradition. (picture of me and Ruby taken at the Wild Ginger-which is across the street from Benaroya Hall)

Music remains a plentiful source of joy, levity, comfort, and connection in our daily lives! May you have a multitude of musical and magical experiences in 2023. Wishing you a warm, cozy, prosperous, healthy, and memorable new year!

Walla Walla and Prosser, Washington

I’ve recently returned from a mini book tour to south eastern Washington. Along the way I gave two Music in the Westward Expansion presentations and took in some of the rich history and natural beauty of the area. The first program was an after hours program at the Fort Walla Walla Museum, located at the edge of town. The second program took place in Prosser at the Prosser Historical Museum.

Joe, my partner in life and roadie, drove (about 600 miles total) the tour vehicle (his Subaru Forester), and helped me haul my very heavy digital piano, guitar, music stand, Northern Cheyenne courtship flute, and other miscellaneous music paraphernalia in and out of the venues. Joe, who is also a master birder, managed to enjoy two exciting mornings of birding at Fort Walla Walla and at the Whitman Mission. For his eastern WA report, visit Short and Tweet Bird Reports.

Joe- birding in a natural area adjacent to the Fort Walla Walla Museum

In between events we enjoyed the vibrant downtown scene in Walla Walla where we strolled along picturesque sidewalks by welcoming shops and restaurants and ate some delicious meals. The Walla Walla Valley is known for its wine industry and the area around Walla Walla is surrounded by gently rolling hills lush with grape vines, and home to some 120 wineries.

At Fort Walla Walla, my presentation was in the main lobby which houses a historical covered wagon, a beautiful stage coach (pictured below), and display cases full of relics from the mid 1800s which made for a perfect setting for Music in the Westward Expansion. My program was part of a series called “After Hours” where authors and historians present programs on their field of expertise. The presentation was recorded and will eventually be added to the Fort Walla Walla website in the past programs link. Thank you to Ella Meyers and the Fort Walla Walla Museum for hosting this event.

Music in the Westward Expansion program at Fort Walla Walla

The day after the Fort Walla Walla event, we spent anafternoon at the Whitman Mission where missionaries Marcus and Narcissa Whitman established a mission near the Cayuse Nation at Waiilatpo on the Columbia Plateau in 1836. At the mission, we walked the grounds, marveled in the open space, and learned more about the complicated and difficult story of the Whitmans and the Cayuse people which is an important and pivotal story within the story of the American Westward Expansion.

Wagon at Waiilatpu, the Whitman Mission Historical Site, located west of Walla Walla.

In Prosser, the county seat of Benton County, located along the Yakima River, I played on an 1860s Chickering square grand piano. The piano was originally shipped from the East Coast around Cape Horn to Astoria where is was then shipped up the Columbia River and hauled overland to Prosser! Playing the piano in the parlor setting truly felt like stepping back in time. Thank you to Alys Means and the Prosser Historical Museum for hosting this event.

1860s Chickering Square Grand at the Prosser Historical Museum

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Author Events beginning next week!

A quick note to remind everyone that I have a couple of author events coming up for my new book, Music in the Westward Expansion. I’d love to see you there! Both events will include narrative interspersed with live music played on the Northern Cheyenne Courtship flute, the piano, and the guitar!

Saturday, August 6, 2022, 7:00 -8:30 pm

Music Center of the Northwest
901 N 96th St, Seattle, WA 98103
Free Admission- no registration required

*Audience members at the Music Center are required to wear a mask.
*I will have a limited number of books on hand for sale for the Music Center event. If you’d like a book signed, I encourage you to purchase a copy ahead of time at your favorite book seller

Tuesday, August 9, 2022, 7:00 -8:00 pm

Third Place Books at Ravenna: 6504 20th Ave NE, Seattle WA 98115. Registration is required-click on the above link. Third Place Books is stocked with copies of the book for purchase.

The Girl I Left Behind Me!

Happy Summer

Meadowbrook Pond in North Seattle

Summertime! I hope you are enjoying activities, places, and people that bring you joy. The studio is buzzing with summer lessons, and preparations are underway for upcoming August author events. I’ve have launched a series of short music videos that go hand in hand with my book, Music in the Westward Expansion: Songs of Heart and Place on the American Frontier, and I’ve created dedicated page on my website just for the book. I encourage you to visit the book page for new updates-including music clips and videos! I hope to connect with you soon either online, at an author event, or around the neighborhood!

Love and music
Love and Music!

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Music in the Westward Expansion Upcoming Author Events

I’m delighted to announce some current and upcoming author events for my new book, Music in the Westward Expansion: Songs of Heart and Place on the American Frontier (McFarland, May 23, 2022).

I invite you to peruse the book at your local bookstore such as Third Place Books-Ravenna, Amazon, McFarland, or wherever you buy books.

Listen to a lively conversation about my book on the podcast, Enhance Life with Music, Ep. 134 hosted by Mindy Peterson. While you’re there, subscribe to this wonderful podcast that “explores the holistic power of music in our everyday lives through the lens of science & health, sports & entertainment, business, and education.”

Read my guest article on the blog, No Dead Guys, hosted by Rhonda Rizzo, pianist, and author. While you’re there, check out Rhonda’s compelling page turner, The Waco Variations, a beautiful coming-of-age novel steeped in music and drama.

Upcoming Author Events

Saturday, August 6, 2022, 7:00 -8:30 PM
Piano concert featuring stories and music from the book; audience Q. and A.; and book signing
Music Center of the Northwest
901 N 96th St, Seattle, WA 98103
Free Admission
Audience members are required to wear a mask
*I will have a limited number of books on hand for sale. If you’d like a book signed, I encourage you to purchase a copy ahead of time at your favorite book seller.

Tuesday, August 9, 2022, 7:00 PM
I’ll be giving an author talk peppered with songs and guitar accompaniment; audience Q. and A; book signing
Third Place Books at Ravenna: 6504 20th Ave NE, Seattle WA 98115
Store Phone (206) 525-2347
Free Admission by registration: call or connect online

I hope to see you at one of the events!

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Enhance Life With Music

I invite you to listen to the podcast, “Enhance your Life with Music” for a conversation about my new book, Music of the Westward Expansion: Songs of Heart and Place on the American Frontier. The episode goes live tomorrow, June 13, 2022! While you’re there, be sure to subscribe to this uplifting and educational podcast! https://mpetersonmusic.com/podcast

Enhance Life with Music podcast - MINDY PETERSON, NCTM

MPETERSONMUSIC.COM

Enhance Life with Music podcast – MINDY PETERSON, NCTM

“A holistic look at the power of music in our everyday lives.”

Call of the Canyon

Call of the Canyon trail, near Sedona, Arizona

Joe and I recently traveled to Sedona, Arizona for a rejuvenating spring break filled with stunning desert hikes. West Fork Trail, a.k.a “The Call of the Canyon,” just a few miles north of Sedona, is a popular hike that meanders back and forth across a rippling creek and through a canyon maze of spectacular striated rock ledges, peaks, and walls. We also took in the Grand Canyon-the South Rim. I was delighted with the hiking trail that runs parallel to the canyon for several miles! The day was glorious, the canyon, well, grand!

I learned that among the many early Westerns filmed in Sedona, was a 1923 movie called The Call of the Canyon. In 1924, The Pullman Herald urged, “Better answer The Call of the Canyon and come along to the Western thrill-land. Where a son of toil teaches a daughter of jazz the a-b-c of living and loving.” Sign me up, I need to watch this old movie ASAP!  

Another movie, Rhythm on the Range, made in 1940, features the theme song, “The Call of the Canyon.” Here is Frank Sinatra’s recording: New York a https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XSR5U5R7Ci4

The Monday after I arrived home, McFarland Publishers emailed with my page proofs for Music in the Westward Expansion: Songs of Heart and Place on the American Frontier, which means that I am currently working on the final task- creating the index! Hurray! Seeing the pdf of the book as it will print, complete with the images and sheet music (10 lead sheets in the back), is thrilling! The book will be published very soon-within the next couple of months! You can pre-order your copy on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, McFarland, or wherever you buy books.

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Musical March Madness

March is a frenzied month for Washington music teachers! Many teachers and students across the state participate in the WSMTA (Washington State Music Teachers Association) Music Artistry Program, or MAP for short. This event takes place at multiple venues across the state and entails teachers registering their students to play for visiting artists who travel to chapters all over the state to hear performances from hundreds of students. The visiting artists provide written and verbal comments and also work at the piano for a few minutes with each student. I am a WSMTA visiting artist and recently spent six days adjudicating students from the Edmonds and Olympia chapters of WSMTA. In those six days, I put some miles on my Leaf, stayed in hotels, and worked with 15 teachers and over 125 students- around eight hours each day.

The days zoomed by with outstanding performances from piano students of all ages! Students performed music by the likes of Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Schumann, Schubert, Amy Beach, Scott Joplin, and Chopin. Upon reflection, I am inspired by the dedication and high level of professionalism of the organizers and teachers, the hard work and polished performances of the students, and of course, the never ending parental support. It truly takes a village- a musically minded village. These types of events are not easy to pull off as there are many moving parts.

I barely caught my breath after the whirlwind of MAP events and headed back into my studio for my own practice and to resume lessons with my 23 private students. I also jumped right back in at the Academy for Precision Learning in the University District where I teach several weekly general music classes to grades K-12.

I eagerly await the page proofs of my forthcoming book (Music in the Westward Expansion: Songs of Heart and Place on the American Frontier), but am told that McFarland (the publisher) is working steadily behind the scenes and the book should be ready in the next few months. (Sigh….patience has never been one of my virtues). In the meantime, there are classes to teach, lessons to plan, and music to practice.

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The Heart List

This post is part of an ongoing series featuring recorded music, stories, and narrative from my forthcoming book:

Music in the Westward Expansion: Songs of Heart and Place on the American Frontier.

Red Boots (a gift from artist, Julie Andrews of California).
“What Wondrous Love Is This,” American Folk Hymn from the early 1800s, played by Laura Dean.

Indigenous people, explorers, pioneers on the Oregon Trail, missionaries, miners, cowboys, preachers, teachers, and frontier settlers all left behind a rich musical history. Each group that traveled west brought heart to the experience as they wove their unique threads into the musical tapestry that was as diverse as the people and experiences of the nineteenth century American West. Below you will find the “Heart List” which highlights the many roles that music played as people established a new sense of place.

Indeed, the “Heart List” applies to our modern world. For a contemporary story that illustrates the healing power of music in the face of Alzheimer’s disease, I encourage you to watch the 60 Minutes episode that aired last week,”The Final Act,” which features musical legends Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga.

The Heart List: In the 19th Century American West, music provided…
• Celebration
• Comfort for people (and restless cattle)
• Community connection
• Creative outlet
• Diplomacy
• Diversion
• Entertainment
• Expression of cultural identity
• Expression of friendship
• Expression of joy
• Expression of love
• Expression of sorrow
• Historical records of events
• Memories of home
• Sense of place
• Solace
• Worship

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