Jealous (Chromeo) and Sia

In a lighter note for this week, Victor is obsessed with Jealous (I Ain’t With It) from Chromeo. Every single time that I play it out loud, he jumps up, stops whatever he is doing, and starts dancing. I would post a video of him doing this, if it wasn’t because of my fear of tarnishing his Internet reputation. Here is the song, in case you feel like dancing.

I, on the other hand, have been obsessed with Sia. She has produced big hits for Rihanna, Beyonce, Katy Perry, and others. She also has her own repertoire, like her song Chandelier, that I love (see below). The reasons why I like her are: she creates great music; she is smart (genius, really); she doesn’t pursue celebrity status (she hides her face for interviews); she is a feminist; she has overcome huge difficulties in her life; and she is 39. How nice to have “older” women setting the tone for popular music.

Here is a great interview with her by Howard Stern:

And here is her song ,Chandelier:

Have a great weekend!


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LA Opera Season 2015/2016 Picks For Adults And Children

I would not be a good daughter to my dad if I didn’t give space to classical music and opera in my site. This is not everybody’s cup of tea, I understand, but I believe the reason for this is that we are hardly exposed to this kind of music and it seems foreign. In my opinion, opera can be lots of fun. I remember watching The Magic Flute on TV when I was 8 and loving it. No child dislikes the Papageno/ Papagena Duet or the Queen of the Night Aria, just take a look and see.

In the LA Opera 2015/2016 Season, they will be showing The Magic Flute and I would like to take my kids to watch it, but they are too little right now. What I will do, instead, is taking them to Saturday Mornings At The Opera, a couple of one hour shows special for children. They are interactive and are preceded by workshops for kids with music related activities. A wonderful way of introducing kids to opera.

There will be two shows:

The Prospector on January 16, 2016 and Figaro Opera Tales on April 30, 2016. The workshops start at 10am and the performances are at 11am. To buy tickets, go here.

Now, for the adults, here are the operas I would like to see this season. Let me know if you have any other favorites:

The Magic Flute by Wolfang Amadeus Mozart - LA Opera Season 2015/2016

Saturday, February 13, 2016 at 7:30pm / Saturday, February 20, 2016 at 7:30pm / Wednesday, February 24, 2016 at 7:30pm / Sunday, February 28, 2016 at 2pm / Wednesday, March 02, 2016 at 7:30pm / Sunday, March 06, 2016 at 2pm

Madame Butterfly by Giacomo Puccini LA Opera Season 2015/2016

Saturday, March 12, 2016 at 7:30pm / Sunday, March 20, 2016 at 2 pm / Wednesday, March 23, 2016 at 7:30pm / Saturday, March 26, 2016 at 7:30pm/ Thursday, March 31, 2016 at 7:30pm /Sunday, April 03, 2016 at 2pm

Domingo/Fleming in Concert Opera 2015/2016

Friday, March 18, 2016 at 7:30pm

La Boheme by Giacomo Puccini LA Opera Season 2015/2016Saturday, May 14, 2016 at 7:30pm / Thursday, May 19, 2016 at 7:30pm / Monday, May 22, 2016 at 2pm / Wednesday, May 25, 2016 at 7:30pm / Saturday, May 28, 2016 at 7:30pm / Sunday, June 05, 2016 at 2pm / Friday, June 10, 2016 at 7:30pm / Sunday, June 12, 2016 at 2pm

Buy your tickets for the LA Opera Season 2015/1016 now. Give it a try!

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LA Phil – A Guide To The Best Concerts Of Season 2015/16

My dad is visiting from Chile, and we are going to watch the 9 symphonies of Beethoven this week, from Thursday to Sunday. I can’t wait, and my dad neither. He is a fan of classical music and he always made us listen to it while growing up, every single day. He used to help organizing concerts himself, and we always attended the shows. It wasn’t always fun or easy. Going to classical music concerts every weekend required bribery in the taste of ice cream, lots and lots of ice cream, but it was worth it.

This tormented past led me to the need of watching the LA Phil a couple of times a Season. When choosing concerts to watch, I am not very elaborate. I like easy melodies that usually come in the shape of Beethoven, Mozart, Vivaldi, or Verdi, very safe choices. The LA Phil has a discount when someone buys 4 or more tickets at a time, so it is good to choose all the concerts you want to go to at the beginning of the season.

If you haven’t been to the Walt Disney Concert Hall, I would really recommend going at least once in your lifetime. It is a gorgeous building by the architect Frank Gehry. The acoustics inside the music chamber were done by Yasuhisa Toyota, and have been praised as one of the best ones in the world. Even if you don’t like classical music, you MUST visit this building.

Early in the season, some of the concerts do not have their repertoire finalized. Most of the Colburn Celebrity Series concerts, for example, do not have an official program yet. This series showcases famous musicians, so, if you like one of them, buy the tickets now and hope they will play something you like the day of.

About the seating chart, I like buying Orchestra View and Terrace View tickets, located behind the Orchestra. They are cheaper and you get a great view of the players, even if some of them have their back towards you. Also, you can feel Dudamel’s (the conductor) passion first hand.

Here is the list of the LA Phil concerts I would like to watch this season (aside from the Immortal Beethoven Series that we are going to this week): - bolivar-950_1

  • Tuesday, October 13, 8pm.

Chamber Music: All Beethoven

BEETHOVEN: Septet in E-flat Major, Op. 20 (c. 41 minutes)

BEETHOVEN: Grosse Fuge, Op. 133 (c. 16 minutes)

BEETHOVEN: String Quartet No. 10 in E-flat major, Op. 74, (“Harp”) (c. 30 minutes) - hahnhilary-950

  • Thursday, December 10, 8pm; Friday, December 11, 8pm; and, Saturday, December 12, 8pm.

Hilary Hahn

WEINBERG: Suite from The Golden Key (c. 16 minutes)

VIEUXTEMPS: Violin Concerto No. 4 in D minor (c. 23 minutes)

TCHAIKOVSKY: Symphony No. 4 (c. 44 minutes) -holidaysingalong-950

  • Saturday, December 19, 11:30 am; Saturday, December 19, 2:30pm

Holiday Sing-Along

jestcafe .com -chamber-950_3

  • Tuesday, January 26, 8 pm.

Chamber Music: All Brahms

BRAHMS: Horn Trio, Op. 40

BRAHMS: String Quintet No. 1, Op. 88

BRAHMS: Piano Quartet No. 3 in C minor, Op. 60 -bronfman-950

  • Friday, January 29, 8pm; Saturday, January 30, 8pm; Sunday, January 31, 2:00 pm

Beethoven and Mahler

BEETHOVEN: Piano Concerto No. 1 (c. 36 minutes)

MAHLER: Symphony No. 1 (c. 53 minutes) -perlman-950

  • Thursday, January 14, 8pm; Friday, January 15, 11am; Saturday, January 16, 8pm; Sunday, January 17, 2pm.

Itzhak Perlman

MOZART: Adagio for violin and orchestra, K. 261 (c. 5 minutes)

MOZART: Rondo for violin and orchestra, K. 373 (c. 8 minutes)

MOZART: Symphony No. 27 (c. 15 minutes)

TCHAIKOVSKY: Symphony No. 5 (c. 50 minutes) -mcgregan-950

  • Thursday, March 31, 8pm; Saturday, April 02, 2pm

From Back to Schubert

BACH: Orchestral Suite No. 3 (c. 20 minutes)

BACH: Concerto for Two Violins (c. 17 minutes)

BACH: Sinfonia in D major, BWV 1045

HAYDN: Sinfonia concertante in B-flat (c. 22 minutes)

SCHUBERT: Symphony No. 3 (c. 26 minutes)

  • Sunday, May 15, 7:30 pm

 YO-YO MA AND KATHRYN STOTT – Repertoire not finalized. Colburn Series. -lucycrowe-950

  • Thursday, May 19, 8pm; Friday, May 20, 8pm; Saturday, May 21, 8pm; Sunday, May 22, 2pm.


PÄRT: Miserere (c. 35 minutes)

MOZART: Requiem (c. 50 minutes)


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I Never Learn – Lykke Li

Lykke Li’s album, I Never Learn, was released in 2014, but I still listen to it regularly. I love how edgy it is. How much beauty and pain some of the songs can hold. It is an amazing album from beginning to end and I can’t wait until she releases the next one. I also love the esthetics of the music videos. They are so earthy and dreamy. The feelings are real, but they seem to take place in a different world.

Music is amazing nowadays. I like how technology has allowed us to access a huge variety of genres from all over the world in a matter of seconds. Internet is a beautiful thing, indeed, if used wisely.

Here are my favorite songs from  Lykke Li’s album. My personal favorite is “I Follow Rivers”, followed closely by “I Never Learn.” These songs are the opposite of a typical, commercial, boring, and, uncreative pop song. Listen to them with an open mind.

Do you have any album recommendations from 2015? I have a couple of favorites that I will be sharing here soon, but I would love to hear more.

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How To Choose A Piano (Music) Teacher For Your Child – Some Practical Tips

I haven’t met a child yet that is not interested in music. If you place an instrument in front of a kid, he or she is probably going to experiment with it and create sounds, so, I believe it is important to exploit this natural creativity in a manner that encourages children to be musical. Víctor loves music. Since he was little, he had very specific requests for the songs that I played in the car; and he’s loved sitting down in front of the piano for 20 minutes or more singing (or screaming) indecipherable tunes since he was 2. He also loves drumming as hard as he can, every morning, at 7am, and I am sure our neighbors love that!

Anyway, this kiddo turned 4 years old last July, and, after years of toddler music lessons he was ready for something more “professional,” so I started looking. I went to a couple of classes in different types of music centers and talked to a few teachers, but my intuition (yes, I use my intuition, as everybody should) told me none of them would be right. A lot of teachers focus on technicalities and I know Víctor wouldn’t care for that. I can’t imagine him being engaged with a class that emphasizes teaching where the C or D notes are in the piano.

In the middle of this search my brother Ricardo, a very, very smart and wise man, who happens to play piano like a professional, came to visit LA, and told me about a free book on the Internet that not only helps pianists to improve at a faster pace, but also helps parents choose the right piano teacher for their children. The book is called “Fundamentals of Piano Practice” and you can find it here. The specific chapter about teachers is here (you can read extracts of the book at the bottom of this post).

Víctor is younger, so some of the advice on the book doesn’t apply, but at least it gave me the knowledge to start looking for the right teacher. I knew, after reading the book, that I wanted Víctor to have a teacher that specializes in beginners and small children, and that focuses on memorization (even though reading should not be dismissed). Also, right now, Víctor learns better in group settings, so I wanted him to be learning with other children and I wanted to be involved.

After searching for a while, I found the answer in a special teaching method called Play a Story. This method is based on improvisation and letting students explore the piano and play as they please, while teaching music concepts as they go. In the first lesson, Víctor learned the difference between high and low notes on the piano, and had to imagine how to play some notes in the way an animal would sound. How does the elephant sound? How does an ant sound? … You get the idea, don’t you? You can imagine how easy it was to get Victor to practice the 5 minutes a day he is required to. Actually, with that homework, he could have played hours if I had a long enough list of animals. Also, we had to listen to some music on the web, and paint a picture based on it. Lovely! If you are interested in finding teachers around your area, you can go here. To learn more about this method, go here.

For now, at this age, this method is working. Víctor seems to be engaged and ready to go to his class. Also, he is learning basic concepts. I will keep you updated as the year goes by, but, in the meantime, I have to say that I am really excited about his teacher and this method.


Here are some of the extracts I found most interesting from the book “Fundamentals of Piano Practice.”


“Musical training is most rewarding for the very young. Most babies exposed frequently to perfectly tuned pianos will automatically develop perfect pitch — this is nothing extra-ordinary.”


“… total music education (scales, time signatures, ear training [including perfect pitch], dictation, theory, etc.) should be an integral part of learning to play the piano because each different thing you learn helps all the others. In the final analysis, a total music education is the only way to learn piano.”


“Children should be tested for their readiness to take piano lessons at ages between 3 and 5. The first lessons for beginners, especially young children under 7 years old, should be brief, 10 to 15 minutes at most.”


“Do not feed them music just because it is classical or it was written by Bach. Play what you and the youngsters enjoy.”


“Youngsters develop in spurts, both physically and mentally, and they can only learn what they are mature enough to learn.”


“For at least the first 2 years of lessons (longer for youngsters) teachers must insist that the parents participate in the teaching/learning process.”


“Most importantly, it is the parents’ job to evaluate the teacher and to make proper decisions on switching teachers at the appropriate time.”


“Teaching babies and adults is different. Adults must be taught; in young children, you only have to awaken the concept in their brains, and then provide a supportive environment as their brains take off in that direction.”


“The Suzuki violin method emphasizes playing from memory at the expense of reading, especially for youngsters, and this is the best approach for piano also.”


“It is easier to practice reading after you can play reasonably well, just as we learn to speak before we learn to read.”

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