Violin and Cello

A picture of my violin and cello teacher, Christine Hartley.

Christine Hartley

About Christine:  Born in South Africa, she began studying music at the age of six. By the time she was 15 years old, she was performing major piano concertos in South Africa. She received scholarships to study cello and piano at the Guildhall School of Music in London with Kenneth Heath and William Pleeth (cello) and Claudio Arrau and Bridget Wild for piano. Shortly thereafter, she became a Cello Professor at the Albert Conservatoire in France and continued a chamber music career playing in baroque and modern ensembles for twenty years. As a solo pianist, she has performed major concertos with major orchestras in England, France, Hungary, Switzerland, Namibia, Poland, and the United States. She has settled in Saint Petersburg, Florida where she became the Principal Cellist for the Tampa Bay Symphony and continues to teach, piano, cello, and violin.

Music Pictures_Page_1_Page_1

Me performing a violin solo and getting ready for a chamber recital.

Lily playing the cello

My daughter Lily in strings class.

Lily and the meltdown at the piano

A piano practice meltdown with Lily.


Various Recital Pictures

Here are a couple of pictures that I could easily find.

Me performing at an annual recital.

Me at the piano_Page_5

Lily and I performing at an outdoor venue.

Lily and I

Yea! Recital time!

Recital time_Page_4

The year Eileen Mattioli (my teacher and mentor) awarded me “Teacher of the Year.”

Teacher of the Year award


Many trophies for students

My daughters, Lauren and Lily with their trophies from a piano recital.

Trophies from a piano recital

My son Christian when he took guitar lessons. He is 25 years old today and in college (still).

Christian and the guitar_Page_3

Collage of Music Pictures from the Past

(1975) The year I started taking Piano Lessons. I was 5 years old.

Don’t laugh at the hair! That was my mom’s doing.

Piano at age 5_Page_2

A group picture from Mattioli School of Music and Arts

Flashback photo from the past

Sean Koos (Student in the front row-far right) Became a member of “The Blackhearts.” Joan Jetts band.

Childhood music pictures_Page_1

A collage from the past. Up to age 10.

The Psychology of Music

I love this article that the University of Florida (UF) posted. When I scrolled down and saw the diagram about students receiving the most academic awards and going into medical school, I would have to say this is very accurate! As a piano performance major that engulfed my early to mid 20’s I would have to say that everyone I knew were straight “A” students. As a matter of fact, one of my friends cried over receiving a 98% on a test where later she argued with the professor in order to gain her 2 points back. There were also a couple of my friends in piano performance class that were also pre-med and engineering majors.  I was OK with just majoring in piano performance/pedagogy. I could not imagine doubling the workload as it was. I believe one of the reasons for these high standards is that as a musician (especially a classical musician), there is no room for error once you are on the stage in front of the audience. It takes a lot of discipline to practice your instrument 4-8 hours a day along with juggling classes such as music theory, 18th-20th century counterpoint, and ensembles (to name a few). The bottom line is……if you want your child to become cultured, spiritual, intuitive, and disciplined, etc…..encourage them to play an instrument. If they show a passion for it, let them take it as serious as they want to. Encourage recitals, festivals, small local competitions, and even exam testing through ABRSM, Trinity, or RCM. If you are an adult, it is never to late to learn. My husband Dr. Cory Hall and I discuss how pleased we are with our adult students whom we teach worldwide via Skype. We are so thankful and grateful for our students and are so pleased when our students “light up” after learning a new piece or mastering that hard passage. There is nothing to lose but all to gain from learning music.



Stuffed Grape Leaves with Meat

Stuffed grape leaves is a dish that my grandmother “Lulu” and her sister “Aunt Mary” would spend lovingly preparing all day in the kitchen. When accompanying them on shopping trips, the grape leaves would come from one store and the lamb or ground chuck would come from another store. They would “store hop” just to find the “best meat.” In the 70’s and early 80’s, Saint Petersburg, Florida had the best little food shops to buy these ingredients.  I have fond memories of going into “Fonte’s Finer Foods” with my grandmother scouring for the best looking (less stringy) grape leaves. Another store that Aunt Mary and Lulu loved was Fridelli’s (not sure of the spelling). Mazzaro’s Italian Market replaced Fridelli’s years ago but today, offers wonderful gourmet foods, wine, and coffees.

Here is what you’ll need for the recipe:  As always, double up on all ingredients when cooking for lots of people!

Grape leaves

1/3 cup olive oil

1/2 cup onion

1 pound lean ground lamb or 1 pound ground chuck.  (We usually used 1/2 lamb and 1/2 ground chuck).

1/2 cup raw white rice

2 Tbls. pine nuts (optional)

1/2 tsp. salt

1/8 tsp. pepper

1 – 16 ounce jar grape leaves (in which you will drain).

3 Tbls. lemon juice

2 Tbls. olive oil


  1. Heat 1/3 cup olive oil in a skillet, sauté onion stirring until golden – 5 minutes. Add lamb/beef; cook, stirring until meat is no longer pink – 10 minutes. Add rice, pine nuts, salt, pepper and 3/4 cup water. Simmer, covered, 10 minutes, until water is absorbed.
  2. Remove from heat. Turn into bowl to cool for 30 minutes before stuffing the grape leaves. Meanwhile, separate grape leaves. Rinse each leaf well in cold water to wash away any brine. Dry well on paper towels. Cut off any straggler strings on the leaves. Use imperfect leaves for layering evenly in the bottom of the skillet. (This is the most time consuming aspect of this recipe. Please take time cutting the strings and finding the best leaves to work with).      
  3. Lay leaves with the shiny side down on a flat surface. Put 1 tablespoon or more (depending on the size of the leaf) of the meat mixture in the center of each leaf; fold sides over filling; roll up, starting from narrow end. Do not roll too tightly; rice needs room to expand. Fill skillet with closely fitted layers of stuffed leaves.
  4. Pour lemon juice, 2 tablespoons olive oil and 1 cup cold water over them. Put heavy plat, upside down, on top to prevent leaves from unrolling. Bring to boiling; simmer, covered, until liquid is absorbed – 30 minutes.
  5. With slotted utensil, lift out of liquid onto serving plate.

We would eat the grape leaves topped with extra salt, lemon juice, or extra olive oil. Aunt Mary and Lulu would order Syrian bread (basically pita bread but better!) from Fattal’s located in Paterson, NJ.

The only store that I have found that sells the closest thing to the Syrian bread from Fattal’s is called the Cedar Market in Saint Petersburg, FL. It’s not pre-packaged bread but the bread in the plain bags on the shelves right when you walk in the door. Call beforehand to see when their shipments are. They run out of this bread quickly!

You can also eat with calamari olives, hummus tahini, labneh, or tabouleh.

Here are two pictures I found without digging through all of my pictures packed away in the basement. Not the best quality but never the less, it is Lulu and Aunt Mary. (Lulu has black hair, Aunt Mary has brown hair).

Aunt Mary and MeLulu and Aunt Mary

The BachScholar™ Home

This is our home in Plattsburg, Missouri where Dr. Cory Hall and I teach piano to local students and to students all over the world by Skype.
The home is late-Victorian, built in the second French Empire style in 1892. It is a nationally registered historic home. If you would like to view
more details about the home, here is the link.

Snow photo_house