Location of LSMS in Relation to Great Chicago Fire

This map shows the current location of The Lake Shore Music Studio at Sandburg Village in relation to The Great Chicago Fire of October 8, 1871.

The pink area on this edited map indicates the area that was burned north of the river.

You can click on this link to see more of the map and read more about the Great Chicago Fire.

It’s fun to put yourself in history. Look around and imagine how much has changed.

The people escaping the flames on that early fall day could hardly imagine what the city would ultimately become.

Study the map and note that Clark Street north of North Avenue was called Green Bay Road. Where it intersects with Lincoln was called Little Fort Road.

Much of the “Gold Coast” area to the east including the Cardinal’s Residence was part of the Catholic Cemetery.

Did you know that Mary Todd Lincoln, widow of the slain President Abraham Lincoln was living in Chicago and escaped the fire with her son Robert by going to the lake?

Photo of destruction after the Chicago Fire

Madison and Wells Street after the Great Chicago Fire

Take a minute to listen to these two songs written shortly afterwards “Passing Through the Fire” and “Pity the Homeless.”

The song that might be the most popular is “There’ll Be a Hot Time in the old Town Tonight.”

This song was already well known but was adapted to commemorate the disaster.

Unfortunately its popularity was helpful in continuing the myth that the fire was caused by Mrs. O’Leary and her cow.  Mrs O’Leary was ultimately exonerated by the City Council in 1997.

Here are the lyrics from the popular Chicago version of the song.

“Late one night,
When we were all in bed,
Old Mother Leary
Left a lantern in the shed;
And when the cow kicked it over,
She winked her eye and said,
‘There’ll be a hot time
In the old town, tonight.’”

For you sports fans you might recognize this as one of the favorite songs used to rally on the soccer team.

Here’s a very funky honky tonk piano version on an out of tune piano.

Finally check out this cartoon from the 1940’s and see how the music is used to augment the action of the animation.

Listen closely to hear the “Carnival of Venice” theme.

It ends with a sing-along version of “The Hot Time..”  song.

Sing-A-Longs before and after the main movie feature were very popular in the movie theaters at the time.



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Piano Tuner Plays Important Role in “Five Guys Named Moe.”

It takes more than actors, musicians and dancers to put on a great theatrical musical performance. There are also a number of technicians handling audio, lights and more.

I was delighted to see, that when crediting all of those who contributed to the production of “Five Guys Named Moe” at the Court Theatre in Hyde Park, the producers included the production’s piano tuner Kent Busse in the program.

I am sure the appreciation extends to the outstanding six piece jazz band that accompanied the “Moes.” J.P Floyd (trombone), Sam Hankins (trumpet), Jarrard Harris (reeds), Ben Johnson (drums), Chuck Webb (bass), led by Abdul Hamid Royal (music director/pianist).

When you sit down to play it’s nice to have the confidence of knowing that your instrument is in tune. In a combo of this size the musicians usually tune-up to the piano, so it all starts there.

It is a similar experience for the singers. They have a certain pitch in mind that they expect to hear as the first note is sung.  Singing in tune starts with an in-tune piano. In this production the Five Moes sing five part harmony. Typically each singer’s harmonic interval is derived from the first note. If that note is “off” everyone is off.

The harmonies of this doo-wop quintet comprised of Big Moe (Lorenzo Rush, Jr.), Little Moe (Darrin Ford), Eat Moe (James Earl Jones II), Four Eyed-Moe (Kelvin Rosten, Jr.) and No Moe (Eric A. Lewis) are spot on.

I think I’ll make Kent Busse the sixth Moe, “Hear Moe,” because what he hears will determine what the audience will hear.

3 pianos at Lakes Shore Music Studio

Kent has been the “official” piano tuner for The Lake Shore Music Studio for several years and recently tuned our piano at home. That is why I was particularly pleased to see him get some of the recognition he deserves and also give him a bit of recognition here as well.

According to Julie, Kent does a great job of keeping the LSMS pianos in shape as well as in tune. As you can imagine they get quite a workout from 50+ students per week aged 4 through 74+.

You can enjoy the fruits of Mr. Busse’s work by playing one of the many LSMS acoustic pianos or coming in to hear your kids play during their lesson.

Additionally you might check out “Five Guys Named Moe” which is a tribute to band leader and saxophonist Louis Jordan, one of the fathers of rock & roll, who popularized several blues/jazz standards like Caldonia and Choo Choo Ch’boogie.

Listen for the boogie piano accompaniment in the beginning of this video.

To read my entire review of “Five Guys Named Moe”.

Guest Blogger : Reno Lovison is Julie’s husband and reviewer for Chicago Theater and Arts.

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World Premiere of Suite for Heroes – J. Golembiowski

Jaroslaw Golembiowski and Julie Lovison

Julie Lovison with friend and piano colleague Jaroslaw Golembiowski on the occasion of the premier performance of his composition “Suite for Heroes” honoring the 200th Anniversary of the Death of Thadeusz Kosciuszko. Performed by the Lincolnwood Chamber Orchestra with David Maller on trumpet at the Copernicus Center in Chicago September 2, 2017. The piece was commissioned by Drs. Barbara and Waldemar Niklinski.

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Group Piano Teacher Training – Level 1- Chicago 2017

Robert Pace Curriculum Piano Teacher Training

Sun.-Tues.  July 30, 31, August 1, 2017

9:30 a.m. -3:30 p.m.

Group Piano Level 1

This course focuses on the concepts presented in the Robert Pace Level I books. Learn how to integrate theory right from the beginning, as well as how to develop all music skills simultaneously (ear training, sight reading, technique, improvisation, transposition, and theory) through the repertoire studies. Learn how to create a buoyant, creative atmosphere in each lesson. Learn how to facilitate good peer teaching and cooperative learning. Discover what it means to teach music concepts and how doing so will create an upward pattern of spiral learning, and develop independent learners who will become lifelong music participants. Level I curriculum concepts include: steps and skips, up, down, same, patterns, repetitions, sequences, parallel and contrasting question and answer phrases, 5 finger patterns, I and V7 chords, waltz style, alberti bass, broken chords, march, dorian, pentatonic, roving triads, passing tones, upper and lower neighbors, tetrachord scales, major and minor key signatures, parallel and contrary motion, down up phrasing, staccato vs. legato, and many more.

We will address good business guidelines including how to market and expand your student clientele, establish studio policies, and the importance of maintaining personal professional growth.

Presenter:  Julie Lovison

The Lake Shore Music Studio

1460 N. Sandburg Terrace

Chicago, IL  60610



Tuition: $295

Plus cost of materials:

Robert Pace Music For Piano, Creative Music, Theory Papers and Finger Builders

Teachers completing the course receive IPTF certificate and listing on LeeRobertsMusic website.

Registration Form

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Reflections on MTNA Music Conference 2017 Baltimore

by Julie Lovison
An action packed three day conference included two special concerts.
Igudesman and Joo  are two young musical friends who have chosen to make a career out of poking fun at classical music while delivering thoughtful, real musical performances interspersed with the humor.   Here is an example of their mashing up classical music with a “Russian accented version of I Will Survive”


Master Class and Concert by Leon Fleischer

Leon Fleischer is 88 years old and going strong as performer, conductor, master class teacher, and collaborator.  In 1964, Leon developed focal dystonia, a curling in of fingers, which put an end to his concert piano career.  Instead of giving up music, he transitioned into conducting, and returned to performing left handed literature only.   After 40 years, through physical therapy and the use of Botox on his arm, he was able to regain much, but not all, of his right hand use.
His exquisite concert  included the beautiful solos performances of  Sleep May Safely Graze, Claire de Lune, Chopin Mazurka and Nocturne in D Flat, and duets with his wife, Katherine Jacobson-Fleischer.   Leon  also takes time to perform collaboratively with his son, a jazz singer in New York.
These two examples show that there are many avenues to making music beyond the traditional concept of solo artist, indeed a creative and musically open mind can experience many new and fulfilling areas of music making.
Here you can see how Mr. Fleischer despite the handicap of  curled fifth finger, creates the sublime and intimate rendition of Bach’s Sheep May Safely Graze.
As usual Reno and I were on hand in the exhibit hall to represent Lee Roberts Music Publications and speak about the Robert Pace Approach.
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Adult Piano Lessons Chicago

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Piano Recital | Lake Shore Music Studio | Chicago

2016-01-24 14.02.20Lake Shore Music Studio | Student Piano Recital | January 2016

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Creative Summer Piano Groupings

Sandburg PagodaCreative Summer Piano Groupings
Summer scheduling at The Lake Shore Music Studio is a patchwork. The schedule changes week by week, with students weaving in and out according to their family’s vacations, camps and other special projects. Summer brings a different tone to lessons. First, it seems that the students who stick around for summer are more motivated and interested generally in music than those who take the summer off. Secondly, new students arrive for whom summer is the time they have chosen to begin something new and exciting (music!) in their life. Third, students are much more relaxed and free in their minds away from the hectic pace of the school year activities. Fourth, just coming in shorts and sandals makes everything seem more relaxed (for teacher and student!)

As a group teacher, I have to be a little more general in my groupings. Students from several classes may join together, or I may do more groupings across ages or levels. For example I grouped two sisters together with their respective classmates. They were about a year apart in levels.  The older sister delighted in being the teacher and the younger ones couldn’t wait to see what was on the horizon for them.  By “teaching” it crystalized the material for the older one and made her proud of her accomplishments.
I did a similar grouping for another brother and sister combo. It made it easier for the parents to only come once a week. Let’s face it – they all need reinforcement in the same general things – note name recognition, rhythm and counting, and keeping their finger technique up to speed. For note names, games like Crazy 8ths, Spoons, Around the World or Bean Bag Grand Staff toss, or Bingo are the most often begged for games.
Sight reading for animals is another activity students enjoy. Each student finds an appropriate sight reading book, and collects a stuffed animal (for the day, they go back in the bin when the lesson is over!) for each song completed.
Duets are another great way to work across levels. Besides a wealth of fun easy duet collections to choose from, like Margaret Goldston’s Duets for Bear Lovers (Steps in the Forest is the favorite and easiest piece) most easy piano books have a teacher duet below. Some are a little more difficult, but some are simple I and V chords that an older sibling can master.
In July we typically focus on jazz, and the 12 bar blues gets a big workout. This is so easy to teach level one students, and you can expand in complexity from there. This gives a good jump on learning songs to be ready for our CAMTA jazz festival which seems to come up so quickly in November. Betsy Hannah’s Real Blues book presents the blues simply and offers a cool combo CD to play along with. Students like it when I play a walking bass and chords but they LOVE playing with the combo – (to their ears, that is the real deal.)
In another grouping situation, I had an adorable brand new 8 year old student so motivated to learn, she is coming 4 times a week. Her good friend came to the studio with a year or so of previous experience elsewhere. Although I began them individually, after a few lessons, I found common ground for them to work together, tic tac toe for reading small step and skip patterns, drawing a grand staff, improvising in various styles on the pentatonic scale (black keys) and the 12 bar blues, and transposing. These were concepts that the second student had not encountered in her previous study. Being good friends, they were thrilled to be able to work together.
In some cases an individual lesson format for students who have been faltering on a steady practice helps zoom in on and firm up basic skills that have been keeping them from making optimal progress during the year. I suggested twice a week lessons to a student whose total concept of “practice” is picking out songs by ear and now we get at least two solid days of reinforcement.
Adult students are another category of exciting summer students. For some this is their time to start something they always wanted to do. Summer shorter terms gives them that option to try it out.Others are snowbirds who will live in Florida or Arizona in the winter. This is a great opportunity to coordinate with colleagues in other states for reciprocal referrals (if you don’t want to do skype lessons with them directly.)
Some have a particular mission. For example, I have been delighting in helping a student become aware of the circle of fifths chord structure, and how she can apply it consciously to work out chords for songs she has been doing by ear for years. She is amazed, and absolutely thrilled that she can consciously put the chords she already knows into the songs according to the circle. Georgia and Autumn in New York are two of her favorites. I find the Hal Leonard Easy Thirties Fake Book a great place to find great standard songs that exemplify the ii V I or vi ii V I progressions.
For me, summertime is a golden time for lessons. What are your favorite summer projects?

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Lang Lang at MTNA Conference Las Vegas 2015 | Julie Lovison The Lake Shore Music Studio

One musician who participated at the 2015 MTNA Conference in Las Vegas who has been doing a lot to introduce young people to the piano and hold their interest is Lang Lang.  His boyish charm and somewhat flamboyant style makes him appear more accessible to a younger audience. Maybe in your day it was Liberace, or Van Cliburn but charisma has always played a part in musical performance though of course it must always begin with real skill or that elusive something described as “talent” to become a superstar.

In fact, speaking of superstars, a number of MTNA attendees took the opportunity to see Elton John, another consummate piano performer of the popular genre, who was appearing at Caesar’s which was the next venue over from The Rio where the conference was being held.

Though Lang Lang did not give a piano performance he did conduct a master class and a showcase session (both of which I attended) introducing his new piano teaching materials distributed by Alfred Publishing.  I was lucky enough to pick up a copy of each of the Level 1-5 books and get a couple of them autographed.


Julie Lovison gets Lang Lang autograph at MTNA Conference in Las Vegas 2015


Lang Lang Autographed music book.


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Visit with Sir James Galway at MTNA Las Vegas 2015

One of the fun aspects of attending a national conference is the opportunity to spend a few minutes with the musical celebrities who are participating. We enjoyed a wonderful concert by renowned flutist Sir James Galway who incidentally was exhibiting his new “First Flute” instruction video series in the booth next to Lee Roberts Music Publications where I was assisting teachers to better understand the benefits of the Robert Pace Piano Approach.

Sir James Galway with Julie Lovison, Director of The Lake Shore Music Studio.

Sir James Galway with Julie Lovison, Director of The Lake Shore Music Studio.

It seemed appropriate to have Sir James autograph a copy of “Shepherd’s Flute” composed for piano by Earl Ricker from the Robert Pace Piano Recital Series.  Since it is written in a minor key popular in Jewish tunes he quipped, “This is a Jewish Shepherd” and went on to share the fact that “Jewish shepherds lead their flock” while shepherds from other cultures drive their flock from behind.

At his master class Sir James made a point of stressing the importance of practicing his scales which he still does devotedly every day. I guess that proves no matter how accomplished you are you need to pay attention to the fundamentals.

Two on Tour Duet Book | Robert Pace SeriesWe observed how personable he was with each visitor taking time time to have a short chat while simultaneously playing chess via his cell phone with a friend online between visitors.

Sir James was also kind enough to autograph a page from the “Two On Tour” duet book volume 2 which was the promotional handout in the Lee Roberts’ booth. The piece is called “Parade for the Irish”.



Julie Lovison, Director of The Lake Shore Music Studio in Chicago speaks with piano teachers about the Robert Pace Approach to Piano Instruction at the Music Teachers National Conference MTNA  2015 conference held at The Rio in Las Vegas.

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