Thought Bubble: Susan Reed's Blog

Where Love is Deep

April 1st, 2014

That’s the title of my new song for the SAA National Conference this May in Minneapolis, MN. It’s beautiful. I love it. Kids often ask me, “What’s your favorite song that you’ve written?” I always say, “My newest one…” Sigh.

The commission request was for a song in celebration of community and in reverence to Dr. Suzuki and the philosophy he created. I think I nailed it. The song looks back, it looks forward, it celebrates the old while welcoming the new. Everyone joins together in song. I can’t wait to share it with you and hope I see you at the conference this year. We’ll be working on the song all weekend and our final performance will be at the closing ceremony. Looking forward!

The day I finish a song- it’s always a great day.


New song on its way…

February 28th, 2014

I’m writing a theme song for the Suzuki Association of the Americas 16th Conference this coming May in Minneapolis, MN. It’s an exciting project and I’m honored to be asked to contribute. I’ll be popping up throughout the conference to teach the song to everyone, and also doing some of my own shows of songs and stories there.

On the final day of the conference we’ll perform the song together, as a community, just before we all head back to our homes, our studios, and our busy lives. Songs bond us to each other. Songs stay inside us, sometimes for years and years, and provide an instant connection to those far away.

Here are my parameters- all inclusive, togetherness, community, hints of the Suzuki philosophy. Hmmm, my musings have begun. Stay tuned. I’m on it!



Teach Smart 2014

January 23rd, 2014

Howdy, Boston-ites! Teach Smart is headed your way again. New teachers, experienced teachers, please join us for an in-depth look at the art of teaching. I hope you can attend.

Teach Smart with Susan Reed: Part One
Wednesday, February 19, 2014 at 4:00PM
Williams Hall, New England Conservatory, Boston, MA
Teach Smart is a workshop designed for new teachers and those curious about teaching. The first in a two-part series, this workshop will offer an in-depth look at how to set-up your teaching business, both in private studio and community music school settings. Get a healthy start in the world of teaching! All instruments welcome. No experience required. This workshop is the second in a year-long series on Pedagogy for Performers.


Teach Smart with Susan Reed: Part Two
Tuesday, February 25, 2014 at 6:00PM
Keller Hall, New England Conservatory, Boston, MA
Teach Smart is a workshop designed for new teachers and those curious about teaching. The second in a two-part series, this workshop will offer tools and resources for planning individual and group lessons as well as strategies for effective communication with students and parents. Get a healthy start in the world of teaching! All instruments welcome. No experience required. This workshop is the second in a year-long series on Pedagogy for Performers.


Hey, I Recognize That Picture!

December 31st, 2013

Check it out- this is the artwork from one of the pages in UP, UP, UP! Where is it hanging? Children’s Hospital, in Boston, MA. I’m happy to hear UP,UP,UP! is in all the waiting rooms.  I performed there last month for their Art of Story Festival- a great event.

“But if I had my way, just one chance for a day
I’d trade places with a bird so I could fly.”

Happy New Year to one and all!



Gifts- an update

December 23rd, 2013

Do you know the Zen story of the caterpillar crossing the road? A man sees a caterpillar crossing the road. Fearing it will be run over he helps the caterpillar to the other side. Then, feeling satisfied with his good deed, the man walks on. Little does he know, he returned the caterpillar back the side of the road it had already crossed and thus made the caterpillar’s journey longer and more dangerous.

An update on our Tatu arrangement of Some Enchanted Evening. We brought it to our friends at the retirement home and specially recognized the man who had requested it. He had a confused look on his face as we announced it and said, “Oh, well, that’s a nice song, but I can’t believe I asked for it?  Strange, I usually ask for Love is a many Splendored Thing…?” then he turned his head down and looked troubled for a few minutes, questioning himself. As soon as he said that, Allie and I both looked at each other and realized our mistake. Yes, in fact, he had requested Love is a Many Splendored Thing. Oops!

The concert went really well, everyone loved our selections and sang along to Some Enchanted Evening, including our special friend. We also promised to bring Love is a Many Splendored Thing for next time. But as soon as we got to the car Allie said, “Geez Mom! I think you made him think his Alzheimers is getting worse!”

Oh well, the best made plans…. I just finished an arrangement of Love is a Many Splendored Thing for next time. We’ve got this now… it’s going to be great.

Happy Holidays, and good luck with the gifts.




The Gift of Music

December 11th, 2013

As many of you know, my girls and I play together in our family trio, Tatu Mianzi. Two or three times of year we play at a local retirement home. Over the years we’ve come to know the residents quite well. They look forward to our visits and greet us at the door each time when we arrive. We bring a variety of repertoire and often take our newest works for a spin there as they are a forgiving audience.

“Play us some show tunes!” they always ask, then they launch into a sing-along after our concert. We always promise to add some to our repertoire, but life gets moving so fast it’s hard to find the time, then we forget until the next time when we arrive…  We’re headed to Fuller Village tomorrow night, and I just arranged Some Enchanted Evening for our friends there. I’m so excited and can’t wait to play it for them. No kidding! I don’t care what else we play, I’m excited to play Some Enchanted Evening. I told my teenaged girls I was working on an arrangement and they got excited too, just like me. With eyes alight and hushed voices we feel like we’re throwing a surprise party at the end of the show!

Performing is all about communicating. Taking that extra step to reach out to your audience takes an ordinary gig and turns it into a special event- a special event we get to call work. Musicians. We are filled with gifts. The more we give, the better we feel.



World Music

November 16th, 2013

As I continually explore music and stories from cultures around the world, I am humbled to receive my recent digital sales spreadsheet for the month of October. Here are the countries represented this last month with Susan Reed downloads:

USA, UK, United Arab Emirates, Italy, Australia, South Africa, Ukraine, Taiwan, Slovakia, Singapore, Saudi Arabia, Russia, Romania, Poland, Philippines, Poland, Peru, New Zealand, Netherlands, Malaysia, Mexico, South Korea, Kenya, Japan, India, Israel, Ireland, Indonesia, Hungary, Hong Kong, Greece, France, Spain, Egypt, Czech Republic, Colombia, Chile, Canada, Brazil, Belgium, Argentina, and Sweden.


I love my job. (I say that often, but some things cannot be said often enough.)





November 7th, 2013

I am grateful for amazing friends. Some friends I see all the time, others not very often at all. Some I talk to, others I email. Some I plan tea with, others I bump into. Either way, I’m one lucky lady to have so many special people in my life.

I wrote a silly friends song for my kids years ago. Now I find myself singing the chorus:

Friends make the world go round
They pick you up when you are down
They share in your wildest dreams
Through the laughter and tears
Friends last for years and years
Friends make the world go round

I’m resurfacing after a mighty 5-month stretch of writing, performing, teaching, and MOVING… of all things…

Life is grand.

I hope you’re well.

Orchestration Bug

September 9th, 2013

It’s been a whirlwind of a summer, and now it has officially come to a close. This is the first day all three kids are back in school, so it’s no surprise that it’s also my first opportunity to blog…

June and July brought the thrill of performing, and lots of it- over 30 performances mixed in with plenty of coaching and teaching. August shifted my focus back to writing. I composed my first piece for chorus and orchestra, a commission for a school in Cleveland where I’ll be doing a residency next month. The piece came out great! I enjoyed it so much that I bet it won’t be my last. I think I just caught the orchestration bug.

The song came first, melody and lyrics intertwined to convey my message as clearly and emotionally packed as I could. Next I composed the string pad, taking care to make it rhythmically interesting. My goal was to make the piece sound complete with just the strings leaving the wind, brass, and percussion parts to ornament further, taking it to that extra level of awesomeness…

… and it is awesome. I love this new work. It’s called Sisters, One and All. The school loved it too. Here’s their initial feedback:

“The score is outstanding.  Absolutely gorgeous and totally playable by all!  Thank you so incredibly much!  We also decided to feature it at our Thanksgiving all school assembly and our Winter Concert.  I have a feeling it will be performed at every HB gathering for the next 30 years!  This is exactly what we needed.  Thank you so very much!”

Ahh, new chapters… I love new chapters… and I love my job…  now, back to work!




June 26th, 2013

This past weekend I performed in a piece with 700 musicians- ISSI Gettin’ Down, composed by my dear friend and orchestrator, Michael McLean and commissioned by another dear friend, Ramona Stirling. It was written for the Intermountain Suzuki String Institute, in Sandy, Utah, in honor of their 35th anniversary. What a gas!

Rehearsals were wild- of those 700 musicians, I’d say half of them were under the age of 7. Musicians spilled from the stage into the auditorium and took up half the seats. There was no room for music stands so all music was memorized. Just getting the room quiet to start was a major accomplishment. Sugar rules the world and cupcakes were served after rehearsals. A frequent request through the microphone was, “Cupcake quiet, everyone! Cupcake quiet!”

The piece begins with a low cello drone under an unfolding melody and chimes- 35 strikes, one for each year of the institute. The piece develops into a hymn, followed by a dance section complete with a percussion rumba line, then back to the hymn again. There was something for everyone- from the most advanced player to Twinkle.

From the start of each run through, everyone was either crying, had goosebumps, or both. It was amazing. I was proud to be involved- that’s me in the green shirt and yellow pants leading the rumba line which was a combination of the parents from both Singapore and Argentina.

Michael and Ramona- what visionaries you are. I’m so glad you are in my life.

Check out footage on youtube: