Piano Practice for the Elephants Contest: Become a Matching Donor Today!

The Practice for the Elephants Contest is in the final stretch as my piano students begin Week 4 of practicing piano to raise money to foster baby elephants, who have been orphaned due to the illegal poaching of elephants for their ivory tusks.
Keep reading to find out how you can become a matching donor!

Last year’s sign the kids made at the recital.


About the contest:

Students earn two cents for every minute practiced over the course of 4 weeks. At the end, we total up the minutes to figure out how much each student has raised. Students’ sponsors can be parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, close friends of the family.

But new this year, students have matching donors: one (or more) paired with a student, who will match what each student earns.

So far we have matching donors for all students—we need 3 more then every student will have one! Each student generally earns between $10-$20 for practicing. Can you match what they earn? The kids are so excited that their contribution will be doubled! Our goal is to raise enough to continue to foster our 6 baby elephants, and, if there are extra funds we will foster another baby elephant. (It’s $50 a year per orphaned elephant.)

If you’d like to be a matching donor for a great cause, please contact me and I will pair you up with a student! 

Last year's recital!
Last year’s recital!

Why Pianos and Elephants?

As pianists we are very aware of the history of using ivory for piano keys and that the manufacture of pianos once contributed to the trade in ivory. But today, piano technicians use polymers and mixtures of plastics to create the look and feel of ivory for our piano keys, bypassing entirely the illegal trade in ivory elephant tusks

Where Our Donations Go

The donations collected go to sponsor abandoned baby elephant cubs whose mother or father was killed from illegal poaching of ivory in Africa. The orphaned baby elephants are raised and kept safe for later release by the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust Foundation in Nairobi, Kenya where it operates the Tsavo East National Park.

Click here for more details on the contest and on the Foundation.
Please also visit the The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust website.
Here’s another website, iworry.org, where you can take action toward ending the ivory trade.

Our Elephants

Barsilinga (boy)
Barsilinga (boy)
Jasiri (boy)
Lima Lima (girl)
Lima Lima (girl)
Rorogoi (girl)
Rorogoi (girl)


Chemi Chemi (boy)
Chemi Chemi (boy)
Sonje (girl, left)
Sonje (girl, left)

This wonderful and amazing contest was created by fellow piano instructor, Penny Lazarus.

Everything you ever wanted to know about metronomes but were afraid to ask…

What! A post about metronomes? Ho Hum.
I gotta be honest, I’m not crazy about iPhone/iPad metronome apps only for ONE reason, they’re not loud enough unless you’re running them through speakers. That said, an 11-year-old student introduced me to a great metronome app she uses (when I make her!) on her iPad, best one I’ve seen:

Pro Metronome:

And here’s a list of non-app, some perhaps are somewhat “antiquated” metronomes.

The Korg MA-30, the one I have in my studio. Still cool to kids cos it runs on batteries and has buttons to push.


The bad boy Franz (yes, you plug it in), mine lasted for years (I went through two of them I think) … in fact … sentimental packrat that I am, I still have the second one. It finally died, and I don’t have time to run around finding a clockmaker to fix and calibrate it.



The Wittner mini, had one of these in college, another great metronome, of the wind-up variety:


Call me old-fashioned but I still love these the best, the Seth Thomas wooden metronome, a throwback to the early 1800s (yup, patented by Johann Maelzel in 1815 (Hence, “M.M.” stands for “Maelzel Metronome” so when I write “m.m.” on your music you’ll know where the heck it comes from.) According to Wiki, Beethoven first used m.m. markings in his scores in 1817.

It’s nice and loud, the one I grew up with as a kid (actually, I think we had two, I broke the first one when I threw it across the room in frustration).


Feel free to share your thrilling metronome memories here too! 🙂

(Seriously, always want info, esp. on apps, or other “physical” metronomes.)


PBS Airs Episode of “Wild Affair” Featuring Founder of Our Elephant Rescue Organization!

Not to be missed!

Wild Affair: The Elephant Who Found a Mom airs tomorrow night, Wednesday, July 16, on PBS, at 8 pm.

Wild Affair is a new series about the bonds between humans and their animal companions, and the premiere episode is about Daphne Sheldrick, the founder of The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, with whom we help foster orphaned elephants because of illegal poaching. I can’t wait to watch it! 🙂

About The Elephant Who Found a Mom

The story of Aisha, the baby elephant orphan, and Daphne Sheldrick, the woman who became her human foster parent. Their intense bond reaches a crisis point when Daphne leaves Aisha with a babysitter for a few days to attend her daughter’s wedding. Aisha believes she has lost Daphne for good and refuses to eat, leading to her death. Heartbroken, Daphne uses the lessons learned from Aisha’s short life to help her save more than 150 orphans over the next 40 years.

Here’s the link to the PBS info online:


Daphne Sheldrick and Aisha.



I’ll be playing at the Rockport Town Reunion this Saturday

Hey there!

I’ll be playing at the Rockport Town Reunion this Saturday, @ 12:30 pm. The event runs from noon to 9 pm, rain or shine, details are at their website. If you’re an ole Rockporter (like me), it’s at Evans Field, and I know for sure the beverage du jour will be Twin Lights. 😉

They’re also on Facebook, and there’s a very informative blog post on event over at GoodMorningGloucester.

Hope to see some of you there!

That's me playing the Rockport Acoustic Festival, back in 1991!
That’s me playing at the Rockport Acoustic Festival, back in 1991!

Miss Julie’s Students Raise $270 for the Elephants!

My young piano students perform today in their Annual Spring Recital at 3 pm at the First Universalist Church of Essex. Click here for directions (it’s handicapped accessible).

The recital is free and open to the public, all are welcome to attend! My students will play pieces by Stravinsky and Bartók (natch!), and also Tchaikovsky, Saint-Saëns, Mozart, Bach, Haydn, Mussorgsky, and of course Beethoven!, as well as current popular and traditional music.

My piano kids practiced minutes to earn money from sponsors to foster baby elephants orphaned by the illegal poaching trade for ivory in Kenya. Visit the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust on Facebook for more info.

Piano practice for the elephants contest of piano instructor Penny Lazarus.

spring recital image002

Miss Julie’s Piano Students Raise Over $250 for the Elephants!

My young piano students will be performing in their Annual Spring Recital on Saturday, June 14, at 3 pm at the First Universalist Church of Essex. Click here for directions to the church (it’s fully handicapped accessible).

The recital is free and open to the public, all are welcome to attend! My students will play original pieces by Stravinsky and Bartók (natch!), and arrangements of Tchaikovsky, Saint-Saëns, Mozart, Bach, Haydn, Mussorgsky, and of course Beethoven!, as well as popular and traditional music.

And just like these young school girls (read their story on the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust page on Facebook) in New York City, my piano kids worked hard for the elephants, earning over $250, just by practicing the piano! 🙂


Fourth grade students of the Nightgale Bamford School in NYC earn over $900 for the elephants!
Fourth grade students of the Nightgale Bamford School in NYC earn over $900 for the elephants!

Great Music Apps for Learning on iPad/Android

Here’s just a few of  the apps I’ve found and downloaded so far on my own iPad – as I find more, I’ll let you know. (I’ve put these over on my Resources page, too.) These apps are for iPad, but I’ve also added ones I’ve found for Android, which have been recommended by fellow piano instructors; I just haven’t tested them myself. If anyone with Android in my studio would like to test them out and share with me so I can share them here, that would be great!

All of these apps aid in music learning at the piano, and are good for both young and old (I’ve broken it down below). The categories include:

  • note reading/identification
  • rhythm training
  • ear training
  • sightreading

Virtuoso Piano Free 3 – Not a learning app necessarily, but a piano at hand, great for doing theory assignments away from the piano (in the olden days, we had cardboard cutouts and had to imagine the sounds in our heads!)

iPad – Young Learners

Music for Little Mozarts – This app is great for very young learners, plus it has Mozart Mouse and Beethoven Bear!

Note Reading/Identification

Note Squish – Whack-a-mole for note reading/identification!

NoteWorks – Note reading, great game for kids.

Rhythm Training

Seuss Band – Great for learning to play on the beat, and the songs are great. Check it out! (I LOVE this one, addictive!)

Rhythm Cat – Excellent app for rhythm training (playing on the beat)

Ear Training

Blog Chorus – Ear training, a totally silly game for kids, but fun!

Everything Training

Tenuto – Comprehensive, covers all drills in music, better for older kids (8 and up) and adults

iPad – Older Learners/Adults

Tenuto – These same drills in app are also at their website.

Scales & Modes – Comprehensive app for all scales and modes, including quizzes of scales, and beautiful GUI! (parchment paper rocks). Only downfall: melodic minor scales are for some reason not included (thinking cos maybe there are different notes going up and down).

Nota for iPad – Comprehensive library for the lookup of all scales/chords, and more.

ForScore – This sight-reading app looks excellent, it’s for more advanced pianists, created by music professors at Peabody Conservatory of Music. If anyone would like to beta-test it for me, I’d appreciate it (I’m an iOS 6 stalwart on my iPad, not ready to go to iOS 7…)


  • Red the Music Reader
  • Rhythm Sheep
  • Music Tutor Sight Read
  • Treble Cat / Bass Cat