Yellow House Salon, Week#5 Cod Liver Ile

cod-liver-catsCod Liver Ile, the fifth and last piece in a series of American Ballads by Roy Harris, is a take on the traditional, Cod Liver Ile.

This piece in very early stages, is by no means ready for a public performance. Cod Liver Ile  needs to stew and simmer in the studio.  However,  as I’ve mentioned before, I’m dedicated to showing my work on this blog, inspired by Show Your Work by Austin Kleon.

I’ve challenged my students to show up and do the work every day! I Love Practice February

In the early stages of a piece or a program, the music  is not always pretty and polished, pieces often sound jagged and unsettled. In the early stages, I may feel like the cat on the left. However, I know  the rewards of showing up and doing the work every day are great and when I finally have a piece, I feel like the cat on the right. I think I’d rather practice than take Cod Liver Oil!

Here is this week’s recording, Cod Liver Ile by Roy Harris played by me.

Here is a wonderful take on the folk song sung by the Dubliners


Yellow House Salon #4 Black is the Color of My True Love’s Hair


Ruby, my love!



Blink and you’ll miss it!  Black is the Color of My True Love’s Hair is the penultimate piece in the set of 5 American Ballads by Roy Harris.

While working on this piece,  my daughter Ruby, comes to mind. She’s one of my greatest loves and happens to have black hair. Life with a teenager provides moments of awe, delight, surprise, discord, and challenge. In fact, life with Ruby is much like this lovely folk tune mixed with dissonant harmonies, multiple time signatures, and pedal markings, requiring the performer to juggle many tasks in an artistic manner.


Score for Black is the Color of My True Love’s Hair with pedal markings.

For more about the Yellow House Salon, please visit Week #1



Yellow House Salon #3, The Bird


Western Tanager by Joe Sweeney

Birds are big in my house.  My partner in life,  Joe Sweeney, is a master birder and hosts a  blog, Short and Tweet Bird Reports, featuring a short story and a wonderful photo each week. He spends a great deal of time birding, photographing birds, reading about birds, and sometimes leading bird walks for the Seattle Audubon.

A hummingbird feeder hangs on a window near my piano in the studio, the resident hummingbird’s name is Presto.  Presto visits multiple times daily. My students and I  enjoy watching her comings and goings.

This brings me to this week’s recording, The Bird from American Ballads by Roy Harris.  The Bird is in the early stages of practice (Remember the intention of this blog is to show my work.). While working this piece,  I imagine a colorful, elusive bird flitting from one tree to another, never landing in one place long enough to get a good look.

Here is The Bird by Roy Harris, recorded today.

Yellow House Salon #2 Wayfaring Stranger

photo 1

Fueled by a sunny Seattle day, an invigorating yoga class, a stop for coffee, and a bouquet of fresh flowers,  I  headed home to record episode #2 of Yellow House Salon.  Two and 1/2 hours later here it is.

Today’s episode is two recordings based on the traditional folk song, Wayfaring Stranger. This song has a beautiful, longing melody with words that speak of our journey through life. Walking through my wonderful Wedgwood neighborhood, I don’t feel like a stranger, on the contrary, I feel a great sense of belonging and contentment.  That aside,  here are  my two takes on Wayfaring Stranger.

Laura singing/playing guitar Wayfaring Stranger, Traditional

Laura playing Wayfaring Stranger from American Ballads by Roy Harris.


Yellow House Salon #1

Thanks for stopping by my weekly blog to read and listen to what’s going on in my studio.

I’m currently working on new programs to add to my concert and residency offerings. Inspired by the engaging little book, Show Your Work, by Austin Kleon. I’m experimenting with a weekly post that does just that: shows my work.

Campfire to Concert Hall, a program  in progress,  celebrates piano music inspired by the American West. I’m a Montana girl from Choteau,  a  magical small town on the edge of the Rocky Mountain front.  I’ve always been interested in wide open spaces, cowboys, pioneers, frontier towns, saloons, old time music, and folk songs. I love the simple, lyric, and sometimes heartbreaking melodies found in cowboy songs from the old West.

I’m learning  a collection of pieces by American composer, Roy Harris (1898-1979),  American Ballads. This wonderful collection contains five pieces, each inspired by an American folk songs, the first is Streets of Laredo. 

Here is my take on the piece in its early stages, and here is where I recorded it.

#1 Yellow House Recordings

Streets of Laredo by Roy Harris


Yellow House Recordings