Monday, October 19, 2015

Sightreading, Recitals and Chamber Music, Oh My!!

Hello Piano People!

Fall is really here! There is a light drizzle outside. I just got back from a lovely walk on the Springwater Corridor Trail near my home. Leaves are changing color and dropping. This is my
favorite time of year!

This term I have been focusing on sight reading. Sight reading is seriously one of my favorite past times! I know I don't share this with much of the world's musical population. But I would like to share my knowledge with my students.

I have heard plenty of groans and moans from my students when I told them we are going to be working on sight reading. But now that I have been consistently working with most of them for the past month, I am seeing some remarkable progress!

If you are a parent, ask you child about "SBLAR"! That is my very own creation and method.

Any piece of music is acceptable for sight reading. I like to challenge myself with really difficult music. But at first, it is best to start at reading music slightly BELOW your level.

The most important element is RHYTHM. You can miss notes, but you may not stop and correct them. Try not to miss a beat.

Get hold of a metronome. If you don't have one, there are many apps online.  Set it to a nice slow steady beat (60 bpm is usually good).

I really like Bartok's Mikrokosmos for my students.  Starting with book one is appropriate for all levels.

I've included a photo of the book above and a link to But you can also try to find it in a local music store, i.e. Portand Music.

We will also be talking about performance pieces for our upcoming recital on December 20th. Mark your calendars.

And finally, I have joined a wonderful new chamber music group: Portland Chamber Music.

It is led by my friend, Anya an opera trained soprano from Russia. We are also joined by Lluis, a french horn player from Spain, Alaine, a lovely young clarinetist, and my friend Jon on cello.

Our events are free. I love seeing my students and friends in the audience!

Here is a link to our website and upcoming events:

Happy Fall! 

Teacher Zita

Friday, August 28, 2015

Fall Term and Recital Dates!

I found this photo on:

NOTE:  The blog I found this picture on has a fascinating segment on why leaves change colors !  I loved this: "Have to have consistent rain also because if there’s not enough rain the colors aren’t as vibrant & vivid".  Yes! Rain! Please!

 Hi Piano People!

Wow! Fall!  My favorite time of the year, just around the corner!

I hope this means the end of the hot weather! Not to whine, but it was a bit too hot for me this summer.

But I do hope all of my students and their families had fun, relaxing times!

I will be taking next week off to rest and plan for fall term.

Fall term will begin Saturday, September 5th, 2015. Labor Day is September 7th.  So if you are doing family things, we can always start your lesson the following week.

I have scheduled my student piano recitals for the year. So save the dates!

End of Fall Term Piano Recital 
Sunday, December 20th:  4:30 p.m. and 6:00 p.m.

End of Spring Term Piano Recital 
Sunday, June 12th:  4:30 p.m. and 6:00 p.m.
As usual, I prefer to have the younger and beginning students perform at the earlier recitals.

As we get back into the swing of things, remember to make time in your busy schedules for piano practice.  I do not have a set time requirement. That depends on your family schedule, level and musical goals.  But I do recommend daily practice.  We can talk about a sample practice routine at your lessons.

I also find that people (including myself) put more effort into a musical piece that they really love. So as we start to think about recital, I would welcome suggestions for your performance pieces. Or I can just play a bunch of pieces and you can pick!

It is my desire to share with you the joy I experience in making music.  It has been my passion for over 50 years and I hope it will be yours too!  

Happy Back to School!
See you soon.

Teacher Zita :)

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Zita's Cool Piano Concert: Sunday, August 23, 2015. 7:00 p.m. Save the Date!

Hot Outside?  Kids Bored?  Escape the heat and relax!  Bring the family to:
 Sunday, August 23rd, 2015 7:00 p.m.

 There will be some Mozart, Gershwin, Scott Joplin, Satie and Clara Schumann.  Also a special premier of original piano music! All played by Zita on the piano. 
And of course, refreshments will be served. We will be serving strawberry shortcake and lemonade. Yum! :)

Suggested Donation: $10/person or $25/family.  
No one turned away for lack of funds. 

Community Music Center
3550 SE Francis Street
Portland, OR 97202

For more information, please email Zita at

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

On Performance

Teacher Zita and Emily, a proud performer. (Emily performed the Theme from Star Wars and the them from the Largo by Dvorak)
Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, hate leads to suffering.
--YODA, Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace*

I am reflecting on the wonderful performances of my students at the end of the year recital I held at the Community Music Center on Sunday.
I sit with my students on stage until they are ready to go it alone. Even as they get more advanced, they often need me to turn pages. It is a lovely, but surreal experience. I sit and bask in their music. And often, little snippets of our conversations from our lessons come to me. Because after all, I am sitting at their side, just as if we are in a piano lesson!
I was so proud of each and every one of my students. And as I congratulated them, I heard some remarks about "mistakes" and "mess ups".  

Were there wrong notes played? Yes! Of course! We are, after all, imperfect humans. Not robots.

Would I enjoy a concert of robots playing each note perfectly. NO!

Because with each performance, we offer ourself up to the audience. We make ourself vulnerable. We are not only sharing the music we learned from the page, that was written by a composer, often hundreds of years before us. We also share a little bit of ourselves.  

I have heard "Fur Elise" by Beethoven played hundreds of times. Maybe thousands. And it is never played exactly the same.

What I experienced at my recital was humanity.  Beautiful people who had spent time working hard on mastering a piece of music. And then sharing this through the vessel of their human flesh to a very appreciative audience.

Please do not regret mistakes. Instead, celebrate the beautiful music between the mistakes.  

You deserve applause just for putting yourself onstage.

And I, as your teacher, applaud you from deep in my heart.

Love to you all and a happy summer!

Teacher Zita :)

*

Friday, June 12, 2015

Summer Piano Lessons

Hello Piano People!

Summer has arrived!  I saw so many kids out today on my morning walk.  Birds are singing. And today is not too hot! :)

But it is supposed to be a hotter than usual summer. For those of you who are not fond of the heat (like me), maybe even you get the summer blues, fear not!

I still have room in Blues Piano Camp at the Community Music Center.  Numbers are rather low, so I've decided to lower the age requirement. Nine year-old to twelve year-old pianists with at least a year of lessons are welome. We learn the blues scale, the twelve bar blues, the history of blues and we jam! It's a lot of fun!

If you do not meet the age requirement, or the dates of the camp are not convenient, I can teach blues in our private lessons.

I still have some spots open in my schedule.

Happy Summer!

Teacher Zita :)

Monday, June 8, 2015

End of Year Piano Recital

The Frances Street Singers and Teacher Zita

Wow! This has been a busy year!  I realize I haven't updated this blog recently. I do have a new blog called I talk about my training for a 5K coming up in the fall. But I also talk about music, so check it out! :)

Yesterday was the 60th Anniversary Celebration of the Community Music Center. We held performances at Reed College.  A wonderful event! Several of my students performed and it was all lovely! A special shout out to Alvin Chan, Lukas Ward, Kyle Jones, Max Thompson and Karissa Thomas! Also, the Francis Street Singers, the adult choir led by the wonderful Tracey Edson and accompanied by yours truly 11 Gypsy Dances by Brahms, and How Lovely is Thy Dwelling Place from the Brahms Requiem, among other selections. It was pure magic!

I have moved back to Portland.  I am doing more performing! And now I have time for a few more students!

Speaking of which, it is nearly time for my end of year Piano Recital!

Very excited! Love recitals!

Date: June 14, 2015
Time: 4:30 and 6:00 p.m.
Place: Community Music Center

Please call, email or talk to me if you need more information.

Otherwise, enjoy the Portland heat wave and keep making music!

Teacher Zita

Tuesday, April 21, 2015


"Sight reading. The ability to read unfamiliar music with ease...All professional instrumentalists and vocalists must be able to read at sight as a matter of routine, but there are some extraordinary pianists (in particiular) who can play complicated works with great precision and fluency at sight."
(Pocket Manual of Musical Terms, Schirmer).

I am a good sightreader. Perhaps not extraordinary. But very good.
Not so good with playing by memory.  I'm working on that.

As a teacher, I would really like to encourage my students to work on becoming effective sightreaders.  Music has so many layers.  Listening with the ear. Playing smoothly and comfortably with the fingers.  Reading the visual cues with the eyes. And processing all of this in the brain!

No wonder a musical education is recommended to stimulate the whole body, brain and soul! :)

I suggest that my students, especially continuing beginning on up to advanced incorporate regular sight reading into their daily practice. The focus should be on continuing the pulse, even if a mistake is made (do not stop and correct it).  Try to keep the eyes on the musical page.

I have an acronym:


I would be happy to share this with you at your lesson!

I have been recommending "A Dozen a Day" by Edna Mae Burnham for most of my students.  I used this as a child. They are fun, short little pieces. They encourages focusing the eyes on the music page and they emphasize rhythm.

The first one in the series is a great place to start!

But really, any piece of music is good for sight reading. Even music that is beyond one's level. When I was young, I would go through stacks of my father's music when I was bored in the summer.  Always wanting to seek his praise, or the least get better than him! :)  But soon I learned to sight read just for the joy of it. Like getting lost in a good book.

Happy Sight Reading! :)

Teacher Zita

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

End of the Year Piano Recital!


Students of Zita Jefferson

Sunday, June 14, 2015


Community Music Center

Portland, OR


4:30 p.m. Beginning Students

6:00 p.m. Intermediate and Advanced Students

 Please bring refreshments to share at the receptions following the performance!

Community Music Center
3350 SE Francis Street
Portland, OR 97202
(CMC is located one block South of Powell Boulevard at 33rd Place in SE Portland.  There is a small parking lot with one disabled-reserved stall and ample on-street parking. 
 CMC is wheel-chair accessible except for the basement.)
(503) 823-3177 phone


All Aboard the Summer Piano Lesson Train! 

I can't believe I'm saying this, but I am working on my summer 2015 schedule! 

I am currently in the process of moving back up to Portland from Salem.

I will still be teaching in Salem, one day a week, but most of my life is in Portland.

This opens up a lot more time for lessons, since I won't be spending so much time looking at an Amtrak window, daydreaming, reading my Kindle, knitting and/or napping!  I feel like I am back from a retreat!

So I am now taking requests for summer term. Here is my proposed schedule.
    • Mondays - Private home lessons in Portland.
    • Tuesdays - Private home lessons in Portland
    • Wednesdays - Private home lessons in Salem.
    • Thursdays - Private home lessons in Portland before 2:00 p.m./Group lessons at the Community Music Center 2:30 to 7:00
    • Fridays -  Private home lessons in Portland before 2:00 p.m./Group lessons at the Community Music Center 2:30 to 7:00
    • Saturdays - Private lessons at St. Mark's Lutheran Church in Portland. 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
    • Sundays - Day of rest. :)
    In addition, I will be teaching a continuing piano blues camp at the Community Music Center June 22nd - June 26th.

    If you would like more information about lessons or would like to reserve a spot, email me at: or message me on FB (
    and I will give you a list of my openings.

    Teacher Zita