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I have to take a break from this Christmas program to show off this clip I found today!  Thanks to my friend David, who mentioned the famous Youtube “piano playing cat” to me, right after his daughter drew a picture of a cat playing the piano (which now lives on top of my piano!).  As if it wasn’t crazy enough that this cat named Nora–from Cherry Hill, NJ, no less!–truly plays the piano, and is an internet star for it, then this Lithuanian composer comes along and features Nora as his soloist in a concerto written around her music.  You people have got to be thinking I’m just crazy obsessed with cats by now, but seriously, this is really special!  I applaud the composer, Mindaugas Piecaitis, for recognizing the potential of those homemade video clips, and hats off to Nora’s family for appreciating her music as they do.  And ladies and gentlemen, let’s give a big hand to the internet for putting all of these pieces of the puzzle into a common pot, from which we can all find inspiration!  This composition is like the product of a worldwide Art X-Tractor, just like the one we had on Main Street during MainX24.

12 Days of Christmas, Day 2.

Ok, it’s not Carol of the Bells, and it’s not Wexford Carol… It’s just something I’ve been playing with and wanted to record before I forgot the interesting chordy things I was doing at the beginning.  I know the vocals aren’t the greatest, and the piano needs a visit from the tuner.  Not much has changed in either of those departments since this blog began two Christmases ago.  As it was when I started blogging, I’m still uploading raw, only maybe slightly practiced bits of ideas and arrangements.  Most importantly, not second-guessing myself (too much), and just letting it be a record of my days.  It’s been really great to look back on all the posts and marvel at the diversity of tracks and videos presented here.  I wish I’d started doing this long ago!  And a note to myself… I need to do some research and looking to find an affordable recording device to recommend to all my students.  It’s a big missing piece in all my teaching and musical meandering.  Not enough people out there documenting their musical worlds!


I’ve been having such amazing visits with a baby grand in North Chattanooga lately… Such a different experience from playing a 100-year-old upright, and it brings out totally different music from me.  Most people around here don’t even associate me with a piano–Heck!  I certainly don’t talk about myself as a pianist.  Never totally developed that identity, I suppose.  But still, it’s one of my happiest places, to be sitting at a piano with unlimited time to explore all the sounds and patterns of chords and notes.  Although the dulcimer is my true love, the piano is the thread of continuity that ties me back to my 4-year-old self.  How mysterious the keyboard must’ve seemed to me at that time, and how wonderful that I still find mystery in it today.  But most of all, as always, I find joy.

Here’s a video of the Esbjorn Svensson Trio, who make me feel like there could (or should!) someday be a jazz trio in my future.  File this one under “inspiration.”

Working Hands

Here’s a little gospely number I wrote in the shower the other day.  Seems like something that could’ve come out of the Unitarian hymn book, and no surprise there.  This song has some of my favorite things in it– playing the piano, lots of fifth intervals, and invented words (“feelya”, “walkya”, “growya”, and “giveya”).  I’m not that crazy about the quality of the recording… Still on a search for a good digital recorder, I suppose.  This one makes the piano sound muffled, my voice sound unreasonably clear, and is overall too quiet or something.  It could just be that I need a good microphone.

Anyway, all technological critiques aside, I’m pretty happy with the song… It sounds to me like a conversation between a person (ok, me) and the universe.  Just some happy thoughts passed back and forth, you know, a little small talk, me and the universe.

“Working Hands” recorded at 524 East 18th St., Chattanooga, June 8, 2009:

Working Hands, by Christie Burns

Mountain Music Folk School

This is an exciting day!  I am announcing the opening of the Mountain Music Folk School, co-founded by myself, Matt Evans, and Steve Daugherty.  And in the spirit of all things nifty and new, I’ve changed the look of my own blog–And yes, I will continue to post clips from my musical adventures on this blog, but keep an eye on the Mountain Music Folk School blog as well, because there’s going to be a lot of activity there!  All of the teachers are blog contributors, so there will be a variety of stories, videos, and photos coming soon.

There’s a great video there now of Casey, Matt, and myself playing “Cockeyed Hen”, an original by Casey Phillips.

Blue Skies

I was too busy making mojitos to fuss with the camera (or a fiddle, or a dulcimer) while the big part of the party went on. But when it all died down, I found myself in a fairly odd–but totally fun–jam session with Ken Doyle on Irish flute and Ken Harrison on saw. This is our rendition of Irving Berlin’s “Blue Skies”. A rather soulful ensemble, don’t you think?

18th Street “surprise” party for Rick Davis, July 5th, 2008:


My dulcimer student, Ranae, is on a great path with her music (even if she doesn’t realize it). She has taken lessons from Dan, lessons from me, she’s been collecting a variety of tunes to play on the hammered dulcimer, and now she has finally discovered that she can play the music she actually knows. I had her bring her hymnal from church and show me her favorite hymn. It was “Redeemed”– the new version, not the old version. And of course it was written in the dulcimer-un-friendly key of Eflat major. So I transposed it to D, and we worked out a nice little arrangement of it for dulcimer. Meanwhile, I had a photocopy of the page from the hymnal, with “Redeemed” written in its original key. This page has been sitting in the center of my piano ledge, and I’ve played it several times a week since she first brought it into the house. I’m so turned on by the chord voicings and the harmonies in this! Are all hymns this cool? Can’t possibly be. But I love the thought that the South is full of church-going people because the music in the churches around here just sounds so good, and Southern people have a keen appreciation for harmony. I know that theory won’t stand very well, but still, it’s a nice thought. Butch picked up on the grooviness of this tune too; he said it sounded like Tom Waits.