Early Spring Rain in D-flat

After a week of teaching lessons online, because “flatten the curve”, I was tired but inspired. This came out of it. Improvisation recorded with a gaming webcam – I think I got the last one in the store before everything like this was sold out.

“Early Spring Rain in D-flat”

My first studio class

Fifteen years in, I have a “first” this week:  studio classes.  Rather than get all/most of my piano students together at once for a traditional recital, I broke it up into four groups, rearranged the furniture in my studio, and invited everyone and their family and friends for a slightly cozier and less formal hour of music-making.



I have a talent for taking pictures of things instead of people.  This is what it looked like right before the first one.  I moved the “nice” lamp so it was right over the piano and turned off the fluorescent light.  I think I might leave it this way!

First class was a success.  Three out of the four students involved both arranging and transposing in their pieces.  This is a keeper!

I feel better than James Brown

To steal a phrase from Was (Not Was), I feel better than James Brown.  Several reasons.

  1. Having a lazy summer.  Practicing, riding the two-wheeler, getting some sun, reading, teaching a very light lesson schedule.
  2. Getting in some travel later this month, notably a visit to Colorado to see my friend and former bandmate Scott Yoho and his family.
  3. Planning on attending Music @ 10,000 Lakes again in August.  This is a retreat for piano teachers who don’t get enough time to explore their own music.  It’s the second year of the retreat, and once again will feature a teacher of mine, the wonderful Liz Wolff.  It’s at St. John’s University in Collegeville, August 12-14.
  4. I voted.  Turns out the Minnesota primaries are taking place during the piano retreat, so I sent for an absentee ballot.  I highly recommend this for everyone!
  5. Had a musically pleasing spring:

Music directed, arranged, and played piano for Dance ‘Til You Drop with Collide Theatrical Dance Company at  MN History Theatre in March-April 2018.  Well-attended and well-reviewed (especially Collide artistic director Regina Peluso’s “innovative” choreography).

Music directed and arranged “Monday Music Madness II” at the annual convention of the Minnesota Music Teachers Association (MMTA).  This was a student-led cabaret, backed by a professional rhythm section, that began with state-wide auditions submitted by students of MMTA teachers.  Above:  Emmett Mathson sings “Great Balls of Fire” and tears up the keyboard, and Grace Cline sings and scats on “Is You Is or Is You Ain’t My Baby”.  Here are a couple video links:

Jonas Rasmusson – Good Vibrations
Sam Eaton – Waving Through a Window


Dracula in Dance

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Collide Theatrical Dance Company is doing a dance-theater production of Dracula at the Ritz this fall, for a two-week run. (Rumor has it the show might be extended a week but I’m not allowed to give dates for that yet : )

Facebook event

WCCO interview with Renee and Rush

We are pretty proud of this show – some of you may have seen it in spring 2016 – MinnPost put us in their “top 5 artistic experiences of the year”. I will be serving as music director, and playing keyboards in the band. This my 3rd season with Collide.

It’s all dance and music, no dialogue. It’s set in modern day NYC and features mostly alt and classic rock and pop (Sufjan Stevens, Robert Plant, Nirvana, Queen, The Police, Icona Pop, Radiohead, The Yeah Yeah Yeahs, M. I. A., Foo Fighters, Jamie Cullum, Depeche Mode, James Blake… and a little Richard Rodgers and Tchaikovsky for good measure : )

Our lead dancers are veterans of shows like West Side Story and Jesus Christ Superstar at the Ordway. Our singers are Michael Hanna, who works regularly as an actor at the Guthrie but is an outstanding rock singer; and Katie Gearty, a first-call jazz, r&b and rock singer who works regularly with Adam Levy’s band Hooker$ n Blow, Mick Sterling’s many projects, and has her own jazz CDs to her credit. And the band is … well, I’m biased, but it’s a really good group of musicians!

Fri Oct 27 7:30
Sat Oct 28 2:00 and 7:30
Sun Oct 29 2:00

Tues Oct 31 8:00*
Wed Nov 1 7:30
Th Nov 2 7:30
Fri Nov 3 7:30
Sat Nov 4 7:30
Sun Nov 5 2:00

*parental discretion advised for Halloween night!

Hope to see you there! If you come, please wait in the lobby afterward so I can say hi and brag to the company about how my friends support us – ha!


Music @ 10,000 Lakes

A shout-out here to my friend and teacher Liz Wolff.


She’s holding a music retreat at St. John’s this August.  I’ll be attending!  From the website:

Announcing: 2017 Music @ 10,000 Lakes

Music @ 10,000 Lakes is a two-day retreat for professional pianists who wish to practice and perform, new, old, unfinished or polished repertoire for and with their colleagues. Located on the exquisite lakeside campus of St. John’s University in Collegeville, Minnesota, the retreat will additionally afford time and opportunity to meditate, walk the nature trails, read, relax and revitalize.

The retreat will take place Sunday afternoon, August 13 through Wednesday morning August 16, 2017. Practice and performing facilities are on the campus of Saint John’s University. Lodging and meals are available at the St. John’s Abbey Guesthouse.

Looking forward to seeing you in August! In the meantime, enjoy exploring this website and feel free to contact us with any questions.