Julie Cleveland’s Students Perform at Shalin Liu Piano Recitals

This past Sunday, 5 of my students performed as part of the North Shore Piano Teachers’ Guild Piano Recitals at the Shalin Liu Performance Center in Rockport.
Congratulations to all of you, I’m so proud of all of your hard work exemplified in the outstanding performances you gave!! —Miss Julie 🙂

Here are two of my students’ performances, I’ll be posting the rest shortly, enjoy!





How to Practice Anything (especially the piano)

This blog post by a fellow piano teacher is wonderful, I can say that her advice here is invaluable. (Beta-tested it this summer.) 😉

This is wonderful reading for not only parents, but for older students, too. And piano teachers!

Here is the link. You can also download it here as a PDF to print it out to read it again and again.

How to Practice Anything
by Regina Ngo

How to Practice Anything

Regina Ngo
Regina’s Music Studio, S. Pasadena, CA
Website: http://rmslearning.me

Free Jazz Concerts and Classes This Week at Shalin Liu

Check it out! Rockport Jazz Camp for kids ages 11 to 18 (two of my students are there!) is taking place all this week at the Rockport schools, a collaboration with Rockport Music Shalin Liu Performance Center.

There are several free performances this week:

Wednesday, 7 pm: Alexa Tarantino Jazz Quintet

Thursday and Friday at 2 pm: Jazz Improvisation Master Classes (I’ll be at one or both of those for sure)

Saturday, 10 am: FIVE PLAY jazz quintet performs a free, family concert.Jazz-Camp-160-alt

Click HERE for info on all the events



And, upcoming on the 27th, and I’m sorry I’ll miss this one, but students will be performing with members of the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra!

Saturday, August 27, 3 PM

MASTERCLASS: Members of the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra

Location: Shalin Liu Performance Center
Members of the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra will work with Rockport Jazz Camp students on such topics as improvisation, large ensemble performance, and instrument-specific techniques. Later that evening, student musicians from the Jazz Camp will participate in the Rockport Music Gala later that evening by providing musical entertainment as patrons stroll to Millbrook Meadow from the Shalin Liu Performance Center. Free, no tickets required.
Runtime: 1 hour

And…this concert costs money but this band is the quintessential Cajun band, Buckwheat Zydeco, I’ve seen them play and they are awesome:

This Friday, 8 pm: http://rockportmusic.org/buckwheat-zydeco/

Watch them on YouTube here:





Acoustic versus Digital Pianos

Just updated this article I wrote for my website a million years ago (well, maybe not THAT long ago) and thought I’d publish for anyone who cares to read, but especially for people considering taking piano lessons and wondering if a digital is “ok for now.” 🙂


Acoustic versus Digital Piano FAQs (or the Plight of the Poor Piano)

by Julie Cleveland

Do we need an acoustic piano for lessons?

Technically, no. You can use a digital piano. A digital piano has 88 weighted keys and pedals. Many teachers don’t care if you have a digital or a piano. I am not one of those teachers. I teach piano, not digital keyboard. So you need a “real” or acoustic piano. Why? Because when you sign up to learn to play the piano, or sign up your child, you’re not studying digital keyboard, or taking digital keyboard lessons, you are signing up for piano lessons. If you are going to invest hundreds—thousands—of dollars over the long haul for your child to become a pianist (if he or she practices!), then make the investment sound and invest in the piano from the get go (as there is “relearning” for students who have been on digitals, or less, for years).

Is an acoustic piano better?

Yes. There is no comparison. Nothing replaces the feel and sound and, of course, the emotional experience of playing a real piano. The wood and strings and metal of the piano create vibrations that go up into your body as you play. You cannot get this experience on an electronic instrument. (A violinist doesn’t learn to play on an electronic violin.) When learning on a digital piano, the emotional reaction with the instrument is not the same. Sometimes it’s lacking. Oftentimes students on digitals too long lose interest. That’s because they are not having an emotional, musical experience with their instrument. Professionals use digital pianos because they have to, for recording, for gigs, etc. I don’t know too many pianists who go into a room and choose the digital over the piano to play on.

A wonderful video to watch is Seymour Bernstein’s You and the Piano, in which he, a concert pianist, describes the piano beautifully.

We live an apartment/condo/house and don’t have room for a real piano.

The truth is that the difference in size (cubic space) between an acoustic upright piano and a digital keyboard is only in inches. The measurements below include depth and width. (Height is moot, unless you have wainscoting or shelving all the way around your house that comes way, way out from the wall, or live in an apartment or condo with 6-foot ceilings.)

An upright acoustic piano measures about 60 inches long.

A digital piano measures about 54 inches long.

An upright acoustic piano measures about 46 inches deep, which includes the space of the bench from the piano when seated to play.

A digital piano measures about 43 inches deep, which includes the space of the bench from the piano when seated to play.

We can’t afford a real piano.

If your child takes to lessons and is excited and learning you have to be able to afford it. Why? Because if you’re laying out hundreds—thousands—of dollars for the piano education of your child over years, then you must also invest in a piano. It would be foolhardy not to.

Sometimes, actually, real pianos are less than higher-end digital pianos (which are the only ones you would want to purchase anyway). Craigslist always has acoustic pianos for sale, no matter where you live on Planet Earth (as does eBay). Some are great, some are ok, some are horrible. It’s exactly like buying a used car. Bring a piano technician with you to assess the piano. I’ve italicized this sentence because it is so important and so often folks skip this step; just like buying a used car, you need a pro to look under the lid and tell you whether it’s worth the money. (I can recommend two excellent techs that I work with).

Buy Larry Fine’s The Piano Book, or visit his website, to help you learn about new and used pianos. Visit piano stores and play different brands (I can recommend shops). Often stores will let you rent a piano by the month, for a low cost (Williams Piano Shop in Brookline). And recruit me to help you. Why? I will always help someone in need of a real piano. Plus I love to shop! Hunter-gatherer instinct.

Pros and cons – acoustic versus digital pianos:

Acoustic Piano        Digital Piano

Needs to be tuned.       Never needs tuning.
Is a real piano.              Is not a real piano.

Why are you so against digital pianos?

It’s not that I am against them, it’s that I am for acoustic pianos. Having played a real piano since the late 1960s, and many various keyboards and digital pianos since the 1980s, I am in a position to have an opinion about it. I speak from experience. I don’t own any stock in a piano company, get kickbacks from piano dealers or shops, and I am not anti-technology. I have been accused of being old-fashioned on the subject. But if I, a pianist for over 45 years, and a piano teacher for nearly 30, don’t stick up for real pianos, who will?

All electronic keyboards are just toys.—Keith Jarrett

Tokyo ’84 concert: Over the Rainbow. (He moves around a lot, but, well, he’s Keith Jarrett.)
Click this link, close your eyes, breathe, and listen. You won’t regret it.

The piano.

Click here for a PDF version of this article.


Cape Ann Piano Studio Annual Spring Recital Tomorrow!

My young piano students will be performing in their annual spring recital on Saturday, June 11, from 4–5 pm at the First Universalist Church of Essex.

It’s free and open to the public, all are welcome to attend! The church is also handicapped accessible. We have a reception afterward downstairs, all are welcome there, too.
Students will be playing almost all contemporary composers’ pieces and songs, as well as arrangements of Mozart and C.P.E. Bach.

Come take and break, and put a smile on your face watching kids share their joy playing piano for all of us! 🙂

Performance from last year:

Cape Ann Piano Studio Annual Spring Recital
June 11, 2016, 4–5 pm
First Universalist Church of Essex
57 Main Street
Essex, MA 01929

Performance from last year’s recital:

For more info, click here, or call 978-491-1658.


I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas…

Well, substitute “warm” for white and your dream’s comin’ true, at least if you live in the Eastern US. My all-time favorite Christmas video (and one of my fav tunes.)

Happy Holidays to my students and parents! And to my students who are, of course, young at heart. 😉

—Miss Julie

North Shore Piano Teachers’ Guild November Recital for Students

The first of the Guild concerts for the 2015–16 school year is:

Day: Sun. Nov. 15, 2015
Place: Second Congregational Church, 35 Conant St., Beverly 01915 (off Exit 20, headed toward Wenham)
Times: Two afternoon concerts start times TBD (to accommodate all of the teachers’ students, usually a 1:30 and a 2:30 program, each about 45 minutes long)

I encourage my students – of all ages and levels – to participate! Mostly families and friends attend and all the teachers and students are very supportive of one another. Recital is slightly more formal than the one I hold in June; it’s a good opportunity for those students who like the challenge of performing in front of a friendly and enthusiastic audience. 🙂
Students should be well prepared and are encouraged to play pieces from memory but use of music is allowed.
Any students interested in performing will be playing pieces they have already learned well; we will perfect them between now and the concert.

There is an $8 recital fee. Email or call or ask about the concert in the lesson!