April 27, 1791: Birthday of Samuel Morse

Today is the birthday of Samuel Finley Breese Morse (1791-1872). Known as Finley to his family, he was born in Charlestown Massachusetts, the oldest child of Rev. Jedediah and Elizabeth (Finley) Morse. Of course he is remembered as the inventor of the American electro-magnetic telegraph and his famous Morse Code. His achievements and contributions to…

Scott Joplin and the Square Piano

Have you ever had piano lessons? Maybe you are taking piano lessons now. What kind of piano keyboard do you have? A few people have a lovely grand piano. These wonderful instruments are also found in concert halls, churches and schools…that have the SPACE for them. An upright, or vertical, piano is more common in…

Recital Comment Cards

Preparing for a recital is a lot of hard work. Performing can be downright scary. Hearing an audience respond to a performance with smiles and applause is incredibly important and reassuring…and fleeting. For many students (and sometimes professionals, too!) the moments following a performance, no matter how successful, are not about basking in the glory…

His Eye Is On the Sparrow

How are you doing? I’m better now, thank you. I was having a really rotten day following a really rough weekend within a really horrible month during a year I never want to repeat…you get the idea. While I was waiting for my first second <sigh> third cup of coffee to brew, I looked out…

Lombard Pianos

Before the Civil War, most of the pianos in America were imported. In the years after the Civil War until the Great Depression, the American piano industry grew to manufacture about half of the pianos in the world. A piano in the home suggested that this was a refined, educated household. [Related: September 18, 1899:…

September 18, 1899: Copyright of Maple Leaf Rag by Scott Joplin

Setting the Scene: 1899 The Spanish-American war ended. Aspirin was patented. Carnation made its first can of evaporated milk. The first motor-driven vacuum cleaner (gasoline powered!) was invented by J.S. Thurman. A United States patent is issued to Ferdinand von Zeppelin for his “Navigable Balloon.” The first known use of the word “automobile” appeared in…

Scott Joplin

You may not recognize his name but I bet you will recognize his music! Some years ago, I lived in northeast Texas in a small community called Hughes Springs. I absolutely love that part of Texas and if life had unfolded differently for me, I would have been totally content to finish out my days…

How Do Organ Pipes Work?

Discover how simple air is tranformed into music as it travels through the pipes of the organ. Learn how the materials used to construct the pipes, as well as the size of the pipes, all contribute to the sound they make. These videos are intersting on their own, but are used to illustrate and demonstrate…

The Story of the Pipe Organ

This is the story of one of the oldest instruments and, until relatively recently, the mankind’s most complex machine. These videos are intersting on their own, but are used to illustrate and demonstrate topics found in the printable, The Story of the Pipe Organ. It is available for purchase here and in the Maestro Heights…

Mary Allen West

First, the backstory. For five years, I was the Director of Music/Organist for Central Congregational Church in Galesburg, Illinois. This magnificent building is on the National Register of Historic Places and tours of church are frequent. I hosted many of those tours and learned much about the people who are memorialized by the stained glass…

Walk with Me

I am glad our paths have crossed. Let’s reminisce. How did we meet?  School? Band? Church, youth group, handbells or choir?  Did we meet at a conference? Were you a subscriber to a publication or did you come to one of my concerts? Maybe you have one of my books.  Are you (were you) one…