Sunday, October 5, 2014

New student artwork: Drawings

In August and September we continued to study the human hand, this time using drawing rather than clay sculptures.  The students used their own hands as models, and created imaginary compositions with the hand as a major feature of that composition.  The two examples above are by elementary-school-aged students.  They successfully used shading to create a three-dimensional image of the hands against the image of a two-dimensional drawing or page in a book.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Privia PX 850 digital Piano review

Some of my students and their families have been asking me about my new digital piano and how I like it.

I recently bought a Privia PX850 digital piano, which I use for my own playing, and for teaching my piano students. It is made by Casio, and it is the top of the range digital piano in the Privia line.

I had another Privia digital piano (the Privia PX110) before buying the PX850, and was very happy with that model.

I, nevertheless, decided to upgrade the PX110 to the PX850 for a number of reasons:

Firstly, although the PX110 had a really rich sound, and was a real pleasure to play, the notes did not keep their sound for very long (if you wanted to play long, sustained notes), and the PX110 had a limited memory and, thus, a limited ability to create accurate sound layering when playing more complex pieces.

With the new PX850, there is a 256-note polyphony piano sound memory technology, which means that a pianist can create a much more complex layering of notes, and sustain the sounds for a much greater amount of time than with the earlier PX110 model.

Secondly, the keys of the PX110 were physically slightly too large and too high, compared to an actual acoustic piano, as well as being slippery, which impaired the quality of the playing to some degree. It would take an adjustment to perform on the smaller keys of a real piano after practicing on the PX110. The keys also were quite noisy, and made a clacking sound when playing, which could be heard over the notes when playing quietly.

The PX850 has keys of very similar size to a real acoustic piano, making playing or performing on a real piano after practicing on the PX850 an easy switch. The resistance of the keys to finger pressure is also very similar to that of a real piano, and the new ebony and ivory texture to the keys makes them much less slippery than the PX110.

There is no clacking sound with the PX850 when pressing the keys either.

The sound of the PX850 is rich and full and very grand-piano-like, and with the open-lid speaker projection (i.e you can lift the lid on the top of the piano, as you can on a real piano, to make the sound louder) the PX850 is capable of producing a very resonant and realistic sound.

The PX850 comes in a compact furniture-style lightweight cabinet in satin black, medium brown or satin white, with sliding key cover and full sheet music rack. It has three pedals (the una corda or soft pedal on the left, the sostenuto pedal in the middle, and the sustain or loud pedal on the right).

Here is a link to the PX850 on Amazon, as well as links to other Privia models:

Casio PX850 BK 88-Key Touch Sensitive Privia Digital Piano with 4 Layer Stereo Grand Piano Samples

Casio Px850 Digital Piano Bundle with Casio Cb7bk Furniture Style Bench, Standard Headphones, Hal Leonard Instructional Book, Polishing Cloth & Mighty Bright Music Stand Light

Casio PX750 BK 88-Key Touch Sensitive Privia Digital Piano with USB Connectivity

Casio Privia PX-350 88-Key Digital Piano Bundle with Casio SP-67 Furniture-Style Stand, Casio SP-33 3-Pedal System, Gearlux Padded Flip-Top Piano Bench, Hal Leonard Instructional Book, and Austin Bazaar Polishing Cloth - Black

Casio PX150 BK 88-Key Touch Sensitive Privia Digital Piano with Tri-Sensor Scaled Hammer Action

Friday, August 8, 2014

Students of artist and art instructor, Thomasin Dewhurst, win top awards in this year's Alameda County Fair

Three students of Thomasin Dewhurst, a Livermore artist and art instructor, won top awards this year at the Alameda County Fair's Youth Art Contest and exhibition.

Tatyahna Munoz, 8, won a very impressive 1st Place, Best of class, and Best of show for her acrylic on canvas landscape painting, “Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee”. 

Tatyahna also won an additional 1st Place for her large landscape oil painting on canvas, “Heart of Livermore Valley”. Tatyahna has been taking private art lessons with Thomasin Dewhurst since she was 6.

Anahi Morales, 10, won 1st Place in the Open Youth Category for her oil on canvas painting, “Portrait of a Dog”.
Audree Johnson, 10, won 1st Place for her Acrylic painting on canvas, “Portrait of an Owl”. Anahi has been taking private art lessons with Thomasin for about 3 years and Audree has been taking art with Thomasin for 1 year.

Thomasin Dewhurst owns Thomasin Dewhurst Fine Art, a Livermore-based organization for art and piano instruction. With around 100 private art and piano students, from preschoolers to adults, Thomasin teaches after-school classes, adult classes, homeschool classes, art history, piano and music theory, and, in addition, classes at local schools. More information and examples of students' artwork can be found at

                                  Anahi Morales                                                           Audree Johnson                     
                                                    Portrait of a Dog”                                                  “Portrait of an Owl”

 Tatyahna Munoz
“Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee”

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Faber Piano Adventures - recommended piano education books

Here are some links to the Faber Piano Adventures series books for students learning the piano.  I have found these books to be thorough and very clearly presented, with many very enjoyable and varied pieces.  My students, from the very young beginning pianist to the intermediate level adult pianist, find these books stimulating and challenging without being frustrating.

Faber Piano Adventures books include the Lesson, Performance, Technique and Artistry, and Theory books plus the supplementary Gold Star Performance, Popular Repertoire, Christmas, and a new sight-reading book.

Faber also offers many other piano book for early and beginning students such as books on improvisation, duets, collections of rock 'n roll pieces, classics, favorite pieces, and many more.

Links to a selection of these books are listed below:

Piano Adventures Lesson Book, Primer Level

Level 2A - Lesson Book: Piano Adventures

My First Piano Adventure, Lesson Book A with CD

Level 1 - Performance Book: Piano Adventures

Accelerated Piano Adventures for the Older Beginner - Lesson Book 1, International Edition

Adult Piano Adventures All-in-One Lesson Book 1

ShowTime Popular: Level 2A (Showtime Piano)

Monday, June 23, 2014

Upcoming Movement, Rhythm and Art Camp for kids, July 14 - 18

Here is some more information about the Movement, Rhythm and Art Camp happening on the 14th to the 18th of July at the Bothwell Center, Livermore:

  • The time is from 2-5pm each day (Friday is one hour shorter).  The cost is $195.00 for the 5 day camp.
  • The camp is for both boys and girls aged 7 - 18 years.
  • Please contact me for further information, or to sign your child / children up for the camp.

The camp is made up of three components:

1. Movement or creative dance, where students will learn about using their bodies to express creative ideas

  • Students will think about various ways in which they can use their limbs, torso, head etc. (stretching, bending, moving through space, using props such as fabric, hoops etc.).  They will think about rhythm and repetition and also how a dance can tell a story just like an artwork can.
  • Students will go on to choreograph their own dance as a group, devising a beginning, middle and end (i.e. making a story), which will be developed and then rehearsed and finally performed on Friday, the 18th of July, for parents, family and friends.

2. Rhythm, where students make the music for the dance they will perform.

  • Students will use drums, rhythm sticks and other simple rhythm-making instruments to learn about making various beats.
  • Students will learn to perform together as a group using different beats.
  • Students will create their own beats and compose a piece of music that will accompany the dance during the performance on the 18th.
  • Some / all of the students can play during the performance, and we will record the drumming as well, to play during the performance.

3. Art, where students will learn about Rhythm in Art.

  • Students will learn about rhythm and how it is used in art.  We will look at various examples of artwork throughout the ages, and from various parts of the world, that use strong rhythmical images.
  • Students will explore rhythm in their own artwork on the first day, and then go on to make costumes and sets / props for the dance performance on the 18th of July.
  • Students will use their own ideas in making their costumes.  We will use fabric sheets, card, paper, rope or string and other recycled or found objects, which the students can paint on and make into costumes and props.

Students will be encouraged to use their own ideas in their creations during the camp.  The dance component is very exploratory, with the aim of helping the students aware of the space around themselves, and how their bodies interact with it, as well as how their bodies can be tools in artistic expression.  There is no need for students to be elaborate in their movements unless they want to be; students can be as vigorously expressive or minimally expressive as they like.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Sculptured hands by my younger students ( 7 to 12 years old)

Here are the results (and examples of the works in progress) of the sculptures of hands my younger students have been working on.  

After drawing their own hands for the first half of the month, the students began working on clay sculptures of their hands.  

The aim of the sculpture project was to continue the intense observation (proportion, size, shape and relationships between shapes, and details such as wrinkles, nails, bones, soft areas, muscular areas, rounded areas etc. of the hands).  The students also worked on a concept of their own choice that they could incorporate into their sculptures.  The students explored Halloween themes (they enjoyed the idea of disembodied hands ... !), hands holding objects, and hands as an expression of mood or gesture (hands stretching, fingers bending, clenching etc.).

We used armature in the form of wire and sticks to work the joints in the fingers and to attach the fingers to the palm of the hand.

The most commented-on observation was how far down the thumb is located from the rest of the fingers.

The students worked very hard on this month-long project, and were very pleased with the results they achieved after pushing themselves those (many!) extra miles.

The work shows such energy and some really excellent observation!