New website: Anne Ku

Follow Anne Ku’s new blog at AnneKu.com

After over 4 years of blogging about our piano guitar duo, cultural economics, travel, I feel the urge to remove the boundaries of what I can and want to write about.

In search of peace, I came to Maui. But peace requires inner reflection and contemplation.

I will not stop writing — but it’s getting hard to stay constrained in only that which relates to music, travel, and economics.

There are many topics I wish to explore, learn, write, and share. These topics do not belong to the Concertblog:

  • sustainability: composting, conservation, energy efficiency, process optimization
  • change management, community building, bottom-up approach to effect change
  • social media and the new paradigm
  • cross-promotional fundraising
  • sightreading, just-in-time, crisis management

Thank you all for following Concertblog.

Join me on a new adventure.

Follow me on my new website.

the only way is up
the only way is up

Fourth anniversary of Concertblog

Four years ago, I started the concertblog to document what it’s like to give concerts, plan, record, review, and travel.

It’s been a long and very interesting journey, cumulating in 96,000 visitors. In time to come, I’ll round it up to 100,000.

While our intentions were pure, we certainly had no idea of the outcome. Where would we be 5 years from now? 10 years?

One thing for sure, we didn’t expect to end up on opposite ends of the earth: one in full-time education & working part-time, the other working overtime. And being apart, it’s impossible to give concerts as a duo.

Thanks to skype and Facetime, it’s still possible to review our different lives and pursuits.

The endorphin-kicking rush of giving a concert is still there. A live performance still beats a recorded one.

As I type this blog on my iPad in a hotel in Honolulu, I am thinking about our last trip to Taiwan — we managed to perform a few extracts of our duo programme at a Rotary Club in Taiwan. We sightread music with a string quartet in Taipei.

Tomorrow I fly to Taipei to experience a taste explosion. That will be my celebration of this four year journey of experimenting and experiencing all that’s possible as traveling musicians. It’s also a time to reflect —- where next?

In Maui, what next?

A week after Anne Ku arrived in Maui, for the fourth time in her life, she is taking stock and taking it easy. There is much to do.

My fellow blogger Susan introduced the idea of placeholder blog posts to manage her readers’ expectations. Here’s a to-do list for myself and a preview of what is to come.

The last 2.5 months in Holland have been spent on house concerts, duo performances, video and audio recordings, piano sightreading sessions in Utrecht and Den Haag, yoga, hosting & entertaining visitors, dinner invitations, and getting the Monument House rented out so that I can be free of worry in Maui while Robert pursues his graduate diploma with full force and focus in Boston. There is still some outstanding to follow up, such as uploading pianist Nathanael May‘s programme to the Monument House Concert Series website and blogging / uploading of the home recordings of piano duets and piano solos.

On Saturday 13th August 2011, I left the Netherlands by way of a 5-hour layover in Chicago where I met the conductor and composer Kim Diehnelt. We had corresponded briefly via Facebook. I performed her Impromptu for solo piano and liked it. I will write something about my recording of it in an upcoming blog.

Next stop was overnight in San Francisco Airport where I met two composers who had submitted duets to my Call for Scores. I had earlier blogged about Loren Jones’ The Secret Door but had not yet met him in person. I will also write about Phil Freihofner and two other composers whose duets I’ve recorded with Utrecht-based Spanish pianist Carol Ruiz Gandia.

It has been a week since I arrived on Maui. The tropical climate agrees with me: no hayfever, no long sleeves, no jackets or gloves or socks. This Pacific island reminds me of my childhood in Asia. Without the need to prepare and anticipate for uncertain weather, I have more time at my disposal. I am free to go indoors and out without having to consider what to wear. And definitely I prefer papaya, pineapple, mango, and guava to apples and bananas.

I have much to write (blogs, abstracts for upcoming conferences, courses, etc) and read (Julia Cameron’s “The Vein of Gold” and Angela Beeching’s “Beyond Talent,” to name a few). Most importantly, I want to quickly get settled and equipped so that my life can continue as smoothly as before.

I am literally on the other side of the world from where I was a week ago. Whether I turn east or west, Holland is on the other side. So are my friends.

Ladies Night in Utrecht: seafood dinner with rose wine. Photo: Susan Raddatz
Ladies Night in Utrecht, 4 August 2011: seafood dinner with rose wine. Photo: Susan Raddatz

Two year anniversary of Concert Blog today!

Bekkers Piano Guitar Duo’s concertblog on wordpress.com began 2 years ago. Time to categorise the topics.

Hard to believe that it has been exactly 2 years since we launched the Concert Blog on WordPress.com to document our adventures and discoveries in music. Since our first blog on 24th March 2009, we have evolved from writing about our duo to reviewing concerts and sharing insights into cultural economics of concertizing.

The two-year journey has taken us from the Netherlands to England, Crete, Belgium, Spain, Finland, Denmark, Italy, France, Taiwan, and the USA. In addition to the musicians and composers who have actively contributed to our concertizing and exploration in the world of live and recorded music, we have worked with artists, photographers, film makers, and other interesting people from all walks of life to make concerts happen. What we learned, we shared. We are grateful to all the feedback from readers and audiences everywhere.

It is now time to categorise the different topics and make it easier for readers to access from our Blog Page.

Bekkers Piano Guitar Duo in Wailea, March 2011. Photo: Dennis O'Keefe
Bekkers Piano Guitar Duo in Wailea, 16 March 2011. Photo: Dennis O'Keefe

Time to celebrate! But Robert flies to Phoenix tonight and Anne to San Francisco in mid-May.

How to blog and get found

There is a certain art to writing a blog to get it found. It’s not your everyday writing. You have to pay attention to the words you use and the hyperlinks you make. If you’d ask me to give a course on “blogging to be found,” I’d propose the following outline.

Many people have asked me why I blog. Why did I start blogging in 1999? Why did I continue?

There are many reasons why I started and continued. I will save that for another blog post. The important thing I want to get across is to get your blog found by others. You can do active promoting by telling people “Hey! I just wrote something. Here it is. Please read it” or you can just wait to be discovered by the way you write your blog.

There is a certain art to writing a blog to get it found. It’s not your everyday writing. You have to pay attention to the words you use and the hyperlinks you make.

Anne Ku, editor, Le Bon Journal
Anne Ku, editor, Le Bon Journal

A blog is almost exactly the opposite of an e-mail campaign that can be interpreted as spam. You readers come to you rather than the other way around.

One of the reasons for blogging on the CONCERTBLOG is to find those readers that are interested in the things I’m interested in: music, economics, concertizing or concertising, chamber music, classical music, concert touring, attending concerts, producing concerts, collaborating, writing programme notes, researching composers, performance excellence, and so on.

If you’d ask me to give a course on “blogging to be found,” I’d propose the following outline.

NEW COURSE: Blogging to be found on the Internet

  • Your objective, motive, goals: why you want and need to blog
  • Choice of blog platform: own website, free blog engines, other
  • The topics you want to write about: can we summarise in a single theme
  • The routine and practice of blogging: inspiration, negativity, demotivation, feedback
  • Basic writing rules: against plagiarism, respect reciprocation
  • Building your readership and expanding your community
  • Writing for online reading is different from print; organising your content
  • Choosing your words, tags, categories, and “alt”
  • Social networking tools to promote your blog
  • Optimal image size for fast download

Pre-requisites

  • Access to your own computer
  • Already have a blog or intend to start one
  • The will to learn and the stamina to continue

To subscribe or express interest in this course, LEAVE A REPLY below with your location and time of availability (date or period). It will not be published if you indicate so.

Being online is a full-time job

I think twice about switching on my Mac powerbook and going online. There are several reasons for this hesitation. The biggest one is that it’s hard to switch off. Before long, I am online the entire day.

I think twice about switching on my Mac powerbook and going online. There are several reasons for this hesitation. The biggest one is that it’s hard to switch off. Before long, I am online the entire day.

Take today, for instance.

Just after 3 pm, I turned on the computer to get the addresses of the two enthusiastic fans who wanted to order signed copies of our new duo CD. I logged into Naxos CD Online so I could listen to Albeniz’ Tango which I played yesterday. I wanted to hear someone else’s interpretation.

While online, I decided to check my Concertblog statistics to see if it would hit 13,000 visitors today. Seeing that it was getting very close, I thought of writing a blog about yesterday’s meeting with an American singer/songwriter and his wife. When I tweeted the resultant blog, I saw a few things on Twitter that lured me to click and read on.

I went into Facebook to see if my tweets propagated. I thanked the friend who introduced me to the singer/songwriter. I thanked her friend and told the short story of how one thing led to another. This is about the Netherlands, Utah, Seattle, and 28 years ago in Okinawa.

I learned a thing or two about social media strategies for musicians and planning recitals, thanks to the clarinettist and blogger that I follow on Twitter. His blog links led me to new websites about how to succeed in the music business, a subject I find wondrously fascinating and remarkably mesmerising.

Many e-mails and several blogs later, it’s 11:28 pm.

There was just a short cycle ride to post one package of CDs to Virginia, a break for noodles and ice cream, and no time to practise the piano.

Following twitter followers

I finally found a pocket of time today to check out the followers of my twitter account BLOGMAIDEN. I am discovering interesting people with interesting ideas and music to share.

I finally found a pocket of time today to check out the followers of my twitter account BLOGMAIDEN. While Robert is working with our sound engineer on the final mastering of our first CD downstairs, I am discovering interesting people with interesting ideas and music to share.

Follow blogmaiden on Twitter

When I opened Joseph Akins’ website, I was greeted with the most lovely piano music I’ve not heard in a long time. It’s new and refreshing and original. I surfed through his well-organised website to find a video clip I could put in this blog. I am sure it exists somewhere. His audio samples relaxed me as I browsed other twitterers’ profiles and links.

Joseph Akins is a composer, pianist, keyboardist, and producer. I’m not surprised. Musicians are multi-faceted. No one is just a pianist. I’m sure that my fellow musicians have portfolio careers as I have. We perform. We compose. We organise concerts. We write reviews. We teach.

Another pianist who followed me on twitter is Paul Kenyon. The samples of his performances of music of Haydn, Schumann, and Debussy are crisp and clear. Having had Joseph’s music continuously streaming in the first hour, I wished that Paul’s music could accompany me in the next hour. But it wasn’t set up that way.

The above are just two examples of two very different kinds of pianists. I discovered that this blog of our piano guitar duo also attracts guitarists.

The website of Simon Powis welcomes me to a world of classical guitar. He had contacted me back in September 2009 about my sight reading thesis (which I wrote for my piano teaching diploma) for he was working on his doctoral thesis on the very subject, but for guitar. I see from his calendar that he is finishing soon and will pass through the UK before returning to Australia. Maybe I will finally get to meet him, if our trip to London in the first half of August pans out.

Once upon a time, I had to know what I was looking for. Use a search engine with the right keywords, cross my fingers, and hope to find what I was looking for. Now, interesting people find me, giving me new ideas and new insight into the world of music. I don’t know how they find me on twitter. Their websites are professional. Their music mesmerising. Their blogs, well-written and food for thought.

Before I go down stairs to reclaim my space for practising the piano, I must mention the blogs of clarinetist David Thomas. His is the kind I want to read and leave my comments. Dare I also reveal that I long to play Schumann’s Fantasiestücke Op. 73 with a clarinet player. My Romanian bassoonist friend had introduced it to me. I loved it so much that I transcribed it to play with French horn. Later I tried it with cello, but never clarinet. At least not yet.

Twitter
Twitter

Future topics

There is plenty to write about, if I have infinite time and energy, on subjects related to music and why it’s important to continue to ask such questions and engage science to find the answers. Or interview people with insight and foresight,…

When I got online tonight (Friday 10th April 2009 at 10:30 pm) I had intended to reflect upon our recent concert in Amsterdam. Then I got sidetracked by interesting articles on benefits of music on children, adults, and the elderly; the importance of programme notes; and various summaries of medical reports and other indepth reportage as discovered and collated by the Unlikely Entrepreneur Cynthia Wunsch.

Her blogs led me to Science Daily, where I quickly searched on the topic of music. There I found “When musicians play along together it isn’t just their instruments that are in time – their brain waves are too” in the article titled “Guitarists’ Brains Swing Together.” Being closely synchronised is a main challenge and requirement in our piano and guitar duo playing. I wonder if our brains are in tune with each other.

A few months ago, just before Christmas 2008, I had bookmarked an article in the Economist, called “Why Music?” Shakespeare’s “if music be the food of love, play on…” sums up the themes of my life: music, food, and love, albeit not necessarily in that order. The article is worth reading again and again. I noticed it because I had simultaneously found another article on music and the mind in the Gramophone magazine (Dec 2008).

There is plenty to write about, if I have infinite time and energy, on subjects related to music and why it’s important to continue to ask such questions and engage science to find the answers. Or interview people with insight and foresight, such as human resource professionals who see skill deficiencies in today’s labour force. They say that “Workers benefit more from art than math and science.Now that’s a welcoming thought — that my return to full-time education to study music, after a left-brained education & employment, was not in vain. Is the Master of Fine Arts (MFA) the new MBA (Master of Business Administration)?

I shall add to this blog entry when I see more topics to write about. Earlier today, I had an idea to arrange music for piano and guitar, compose something that would be interesting for us to play, and …. I need a depository to store my ideas before they vanish or get replaced!